Well well well, what a start we have had to the closing stage of the league here in Mexico! 5 wins on the spin sees us sit at the summit of the league. The most pleasing aspect for me is to see every player firing on all cylinders. Di Yorio is really starting to show why he’s considered a young prospect and Ibanez is certainly making me think we need to splash the cash and bring him in permanently. Mosquera has had a slight renaissance and is plying out of his skin in the shadow striker role. We’re playing some excellent football and scoring lovely goals along side it. There has been a clear improvement in team cohesion in the middle of the park and that is apparent with some of the goals we’re scoring. Balls through the middle to either Di Yorio or Ibanez are frequent and the forwards are for the most part finishing them off.
After 3 games it looked as if we’d wipe the floor with every team we faced. We were then 5 – 1 up against Pumas and somehow ended up conceding a further 3 goals for the game to finish 6 – 4. Not a great second half performance from us and at times it looked like our defenders had been on the beach for 6 months.
Away from results we have a very exciting youth intake preview, so fingers crossed our intake is as good as our preview suggests. A long term vision of this club is absolutely to develop youngsters who can generate cash for the club. The more cash in the bank, the more we can justify spending fairly big on youngsters from elsewhere to then generate more cash. And the cycle shall continue (we hope).
Cruz Azul made light work of us which is really, really disappointing considering how strong we’ve looked to now. Even at nil nil you could see this game was only going one way. Key left back Moreno missed the game through illness and I think that’s what completely threw us off our rhythm. Playing in the IWB role all season has fit like a glove, but with his replacement coming in who isn’t even a natural LB it was obvious he was going to struggle. a 6.2 rating saw him get hooked after 60 minutes and he’ll be disciplined for an abysmal performance. Sometimes after a winning run a loss can be a slight positive as it allows you to reset, give a different team talk and put your wrong doings right in the next game. You can’t win them all but at least turn up and show everyone why we are top of the league.
After 17 games in the closing stage we’ve finished top of league with 13 wins, 2 draws and 2 defeats. It’s a strange feeling finishing top of a league with no immediate reward. We’re now in the Quarter Final, our hurdle of the opening stage. But finishing 1st means we’re the highest seeded team of the play offs so we should have a straight forward run to the final. Our football all season has been wonderful to watch and there is a clear togetherness in this team. It’s imperative we stick to our guns and play the way we have been all season in these play offs.
The quarter final has drawn us against Queretaro who finished 12th in this closing stage. Games aren’t won on form but you would like to think we are clear favourites for this one. The main advantage we have from finishing first is the higher seed rule. If the game finishes as a draw on aggregate, we will go through as winners as the higher seed.
The first leg has gone as expected with us controlling the game and and not allowing a single shot on target. A 3 nil win going into the second leg should see us through to the semi final and exercise our demon of the opening stage.
A huge blow however is that key right back Navarro suffered a broken leg in the match and will be out for 4 – 6 months. At 33 his prime may well be over and we’ll now need to recruit a new right back in the summer window.
An uneventful 2nd leg sees us win 2 nil and cement our place in the final four of these play offs. The draw has been kind and has sent us away to Tigres who finished 7th. My prediction is we will face Club America in the final who we who we have a level head to head with.
Well the first leg has not gone to plan and we find ourselves having to overturn a 2 goal deficit in the return leg.
Wow, wow , wow !! What a madness of a game. with a 3 goal lead after 32 minutes we were well on our way to the semi final. We then threw away that 3 goal lead and Tigres lead 6 – 4 on aggregate. Changes were a must and we instructed the boys to be more expressive, play with a higher line of engagement and it worked! Ibanez popped up with a goal in the 82nd minute to give us much needed belief and then again in the 88th minute after a sublime cross from Jonathon on the right wing. With the game finishing 6 – 6 on aggregate we have gone through to the final on higher seed rule. Revenge for the opening stage!
My prediction was incorrect, we will face 2nd place finishing Deportivo Toluca in the Final. In our past 2 meetings we have drawn both games, so there really isn’t anything separating us as we go into this 2 legged Final.
We have stormed the first leg here 3 nil! We are taking huge advantage into the 2nd leg! Now as we have seen deficits can well be overturned but with us playing at home and being the higher seed, it’s hard to look beyond us as Champions of Mexico after this final! The first goals came from 2 Mosquerra penalties, the 2nd one very dubious I must say. The statistics show we created the much better quality chances throughout the game and were deserved winners, with an xG of 2.84 to their 0.81. Onto the 2nd leg!
Champions of mexico
Not much to report in the second leg of the final. It certainly seemed a foregone conclusion after our first leg romp and with this game finishing 1 – 1 after an absolute worldie by their forward at the end of the game, we have been crowned Closing Stage Champions! We will now play in the North American Champions League next season and that really gives us the chance to develop as a squad with more competitive games and more silverware to aim for. Having found success with this new system I firmly believe we can win both the opening stage and closing stage of the league next season. Some recruitment