Mexico City Derby Shaping Up Nicely

I caught the last few minutes of Cruz Azul and Necaxa on Friday night. The cementeros were desperately trying to find an equalizer in 2nd half stoppage time. Oscar Perez made an unbelievable reflex save to deny them on one corner kick, the ball harmlessly floating above the crossbar for another.

The Cruz Azul goalie, Jesus Corona was in the box. It makes for good TV, but does the goalie ever do anything in these situations.

And then Corona’s header went into the back of the net. Game tied 2-2. Wow. Can’t say I remember when was the last time I saw that.

And then the ref stepped in. Fabricio Morales called a phantom foul on the keeper and then gave him a second yellow for the inevitable dissent with which Corona peppered the ref.

Replays showed that the game the ref was watching in his mind was much more aggressive than the one on the pitch in Aguascalientes. Corona did nothing other than gain position on his defender. He didn’t push, pull, trip, kick, bite or choke his opponent. He just out-muscled him. The ref saw it different - yet another in an endless parade of games that are decided by the 23rd man on the pitch.

It won’t be the last.

Cruz Azul would lose the game 2-1, and now will not have their starting keeper for their upcoming derby vs. Club America.

Speaking of America, they made a huge statement by defeating one of the MFL’s most consistent teams in Santos, 3-2, in what surely was one of the more entertaining games of the season so far. After a slow start, the Mexico City giants are now only a point behind Toluca in Group 2. Are they “attacking like Barcelona and defending like Inter” like their coach, Manuel Lapuente promised they would? Not quite. They probably haven’t even lived up to the lofty expectations of their demanding fans.

There is no question, though, that America have gotten stronger as the season heads into its final stretch. They also have a very favorable remaining schedule, as they only face 3 teams in the top half of the table.

One of those is Cruz Azul, who have notched 7 wins so far this season to put them atop the league table with 21 points. But the Clasico Joven has been strictly a one-sided affair as of late. 2003 was the last time Cruz Azul got a win over their cross-town rivals.