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Birmingham City
7:45 PM UTC
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 By Eric Gomez

Liga MX Power Rankings: Toluca stays top, Monterrey jumps into second

MEXICO CITY -- It's official. Toluca now has Liga MX's longest winning streak in the short season era.

The league leaders have been especially dominant of late, with their last three wins coming with clean sheets in defense. With just one week to go in the season, Hernan Cristante's team has gone from fringe candidate, to dark horse, to clear favorite in the Clausura 2018. The question now is whether Toluca can carry that momentum into the playoffs.

Here are the Power Rankings for Week 16:

1. TOLUCA (no change)
On Sunday, Veracruz was looking to sneak into the Liguilla after officially staving off relegation. Faced with a hungry opponent, Toluca dominated the entire match. They stretched an early 1-0 lead into a three-goal rout with two scores coming from Rodrigo Salinas.

A commanding 4-0 win over Lobos BUAP doomed the Puebla side to relegation and secured Monterrey a spot in the playoffs. Antonio Mohamed's team has won four out of their last five games and has outscored rivals by a combined score of 11-3.

The defending champions haven't won in their last three matches. A 1-1 draw against Necaxa last weekend did little to dissipate the lingering doubts around Ricardo Ferretti's team as it gets closer to the playoffs.

4. SANTOS LAGUNA (no change)
Santos Laguna has dropped three out of their last four matches, a rough time of the season to suffer dip in form. On Sunday, Pumas jumped out to a 2-0 lead in Torreon which proved to be insurmountable. A late goal from Carlos Izquierdoz, however, put some drama into the end of the game.

An opening salvo from Puebla's Alejandro Chumacero seemed to destroy the confidence Club America had enjoyed in defense all season long. In the second half, a red card to Mateus Uribe opened the gates for further damage from a determined rival.

6. PUMAS UNAM (+3)
UNAM got a huge win over Santos Laguna as they push for a playoff spot over the last weeks of the season. Nicolas Castillo has scored four goals in the last two games to push the team's offense into overdrive.

7. MORELIA (-1)
Three losses in the last four matches has seen Morelia go into the final week of the season with serious doubts. Once considered a lock for the playoffs, the 2-0 loss against Cruz Azul has them reeling. Next week's matchup against Necaxa will be a pure "win or go home" scenario.

8. CLUB TIJUANA (no change)
Miller Bolanos saved a point for Tijuana against bitter rivals Leon on Saturday after Elias Hernandez threatened to steal a late win for the struggling Esmeraldas. Next Friday, Tijuana will face off against league leaders Toluca in a final bid to secure a playoff spot.

9. NECAXA (+1)
Though Necaxa is undefeated in their last six league matches, the newly anointed Copa MX champions have just one win over that span. Another draw, a 1-1 tie against Tigres, leaves them on the outside looking in with just one game to play.

10. PACHUCA (-3)
Diego Alonso's team spoiled an excellent opportunity on Saturday, when they were only able to muster a 0-0 draw against lowly Queretaro. With 22 points after 16 weeks, Pachuca will need to win and hope any one of Pumas, Morelia or Tijuana don't gain three points in order to sneak into the postseason.

Toluca is looking to carry over their dominant play into the playoffs.

11. CRUZ AZUL (+3)
The Estadio Azul was given a proper send-off on Saturday when Cruz Azul bested Morelia 2-0. Though the score might suggest otherwise, there were a bevy of chances available for the winners as they displayed some fantastic offensive play through most of the match.

12. PUEBLA  (+1)
With their playoff chances on life support, Puebla delivered a huge result against Club America to keep them in the hunt. Though they'll need other teams to drop points, a win against local rivals Lobos BUAP seems like a given now that Lobos has been officially relegated.

13. LEON (-2)
Technically, Gustavo Diaz's team still harbors hope for the playoffs but a draw against Tijuana basically sentenced them to watching the postseason on television. With 19 points, they'll need to beat Chivas and hope for some help from the teams above.

14. QUERETARO  (+3)
Even facing elimination, Queretaro was unable to muster some offense against Pachuca, settling for a scoreless draw that sealed the team's fate this season. Queretaro has won just one game since March 11.

15. ATLAS (no change)
A win against their biggest rivals was more than an appropriate way to see off Rafa Marquez following a brilliant club career. The eternal captain got a standing ovation from the Estadio Jalisco crowd as he had his name called for the last time in the final minutes of the 1-0 win over Chivas.

16. VERACRUZ (-4)
The pressure is gone for Veracruz after Lobos was relegated, but so are the playoff hopes after a 3-0 loss against Toluca. Better yet, the woeful Tiburones have their place assured in Liga MX through 2020 with the new rules coming into effect.

17. CHIVAS (-1)
Even with city pride on the line, Chivas did not play their best lineup as they focused on the CONCACAF Champions League final. That being said, their Liga MX hopes have been gone for quite some time.

18. LOBOS BUAP (no change)
Pour one out for Lobos BUAP. The team delighted fans with some exciting play toward the end of 2017, but the final six months were hell for the first-time Liga MX entrants.

Eric Gomez is an editor for ESPN's One Nación. You can follow him on Twitter: @EricGomez86.


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