The Mexican Primera’s Apertura came to a close with the second leg of the championship series Sunday evening with host Monterrey and its fans celebrating a much-deserved title, rallying from a 3-2 deficit from the first leg on the road against Santos Laguna with a dominant 3-0 victory at home.
The club dropped three of its last four games of the season, but still finished second in the league courtesy of being unbeaten to that point. It was not that great of a letdown as they trailed Cruz Azul most of the way due to the high number of lost points from draws, but the club was clearly deserving of winning the championship considering at the same time as it went on its 13-game unbeaten start to the Apertura, it also went unbeaten in its six Group Phase matches in the CONCACAF Champions League in a difficult group that included the Seattle Sounders, who went on to win its second consecutive US Open Cup, and two proven Central American powers in Saprissa and Marathon. In fact, they won five of the six with a 2-2 result against Saprissa on the road, finishing with the highest point total across the entire CCL field as they were the only team not to suffer a loss.
Monterrey defeated Puchuca and Pumas to reach the championship series against Santos Laguna, a potential CCL semifinal opponent. The playoffs proved dramatic as Pachuca rallied from two down in Monterrey for a 3-3 draw in the second leg (first finished 1-1), but the tiebreaker was held by Monterrey as the higher seed from the regular season. A scoreless first leg gave way to a 2-0 home win in the second half of the semifinal series against Pumas.
Santos Laguna, meanwhile, knocked off Jaguares and America in the postseason after finishing just two points back of Monterrey for second in their group and third overall in the league. They face fellow CCL power Cruz Azul in the CCL Quarterfinals as Monterrey plays Toluca, who finished fourth in their Apertura group and missed the playoffs.
Look for an updated Pro Power Rankings soon. Costa Rica power Alajuelense plays Herediano, who finished second to them in their group, in the championship series over the next two weeks. Firpo is set to take on Isidro Metapan in the El Salvadoran Final series while Olimpia and Real Espana head into the second leg of the Honduran Final level at 1-1. Guatemala and Panama are both in the semifinal stages of the postseason.