La Maquina, without a Liga MX title since 1997, hit the woodwork twice and held America to just two shots on goal in a stalemate which pit the 2018 Apertura's best defensive team, Cruz Azul (11 goals conceded), against its best attacking unit, America (27 goals scored).
It was a battle of attrition in front of over 62,000 in the Azteca, a tactical affair between two teams playing matching formations and for the top spot in Liga MX. It made for a fascinating 90 minutes and a game billed as one of the most important of the season so far ended with third-place Cruz Azul looking the more secure against current leaders America. There certainly wasn't much to be discouraged by from Caixinha's team, apart from perhaps a lack of chances created in the second half.
The Azteca draw was the warm-up for Cruz Azul for Wednesday's Copa MX final against Monterrey and a chance to earn a trophy that would provide some momentum as the Apertura reaches its business end.
But there's another reason why La Maquina fans can be hopeful, whatever happens in the Copa MX final. Liga MX is generally known for its parity relative to other leagues, but the 2018 Apertura is proving to be even more difficult to define than usual.
After 14 rounds of games and with nine points still on the table, only three points separate the top five teams. To go even further, 16 of the 18 clubs still have a mathematical chance of making the top eight and the postseason.
There just hasn't been one outstanding team so far this Apertura, with the overall quality sliding compared to previous seasons.
First-place America is likely the favorite on paper and Las Aguilas' central midfield duo of Guido Rodriguez and Mateus Uribe is the best in Liga MX, almost guaranteeing America will compete in games. The attack -- led by the inconsistent Roger Martinez -- is far less of a certainty and was blunted all too easily by Cruz Azul. Add in the fact that Herrera's teams have never really been great in the postseason and Liga MX is as wide open as it has been in years.
Second-place Santos Laguna is perhaps the team Cruz Azul should fear the most.
Los Guerreros won the 2018 Clausura, but the sales of Nestor Araujo (Celta Vigo), Carlos Izquierdoz (Boca Juniors), Djaniny (Al-Ahli Saudi) and Jorge
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