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Liga MX Power Rankings: Leon take top spot as regular season ends

With Club Tijuana's dismantling of Puebla at the Estadio Caliente last weekend, the playoff field is officially set. Leon's record-setting season will be put to the test against the aforementioned Xolos, who will treat the matchup as a rivalry game. Tigres squares off against Pachuca in a redux of several memorable postseason confrontations. Monterrey will take on a Necaxa team who just sold off their biggest star in Brian Fernandez. Finally, another postseason Clasico Joven: Cruz Azul gets a chance to exact revenge after the Apertura 2018 final they lost to Club America.

Previous rankings: Week 16 Week 15 Week 14 Week 13Week 12 | Week 11 Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3

1. LEON 

End of season grade: A+

Who could've ever predicted this from Los Esmeraldas? The Clausura 2019 will be one to remember regardless of how they do in the playoffs. Their 2-1 victory over Pachuca on Saturday brought them to 41 points on the season, one in which they set the league record for 12 consecutive victories. A dream season they now look to crown with silverware in the playoffs.

2. SANTOS LAGUNA

End of season grade: C-

Though they closed out the season with an emphatic 5-2 win over Pumas, Santos dropped out of contention mid-season and fruitlessly switched managers in order to spearhead a final push. Though it's admirable that Santos can eschew big stars seemingly every six months and continue to remain a factor, they were bound to fade away at some point.

3. CLUB TIJUANA 

End of season grade: B+

The 4-0 win over Puebla at home gave Xolos the final playoff spot both teams craved, and now they'll have a chance to knock off rivals Leon in the quarterfinals in what should be a thrilling series. Spearheaded by Oscar Pareja, Gustavo Bou and Ariel Nahuelpan, Tijuana has made a quick return to respectability after a few seasons to forget.

4. TOLUCA 

End of season grade: C

After a dreadful start under Hernan Cristante, Toluca found their bearings under Ricardo La Volpe and made an interesting end-of-season push. Their 4-0 win over Lobos BUAP is a harbinger of good things to come in the Apertura 2019, provided they make a couple of key signings to bolster their defense.

5. TIGRES UANL

End of season grade: A

Despite their failings in the CONCACAF Champions League, Tigres has been lights out in the league thus far. The 2-1 win over Chivas gave them 37 points on the season, and FiveThirtyEight has them as the team with the biggest chance to win the Clausura 2019 going into the Liguilla.

6. CLUB AMERICA 

End of season grade: B

The defending champs had to deal with a cavalcade of injuries, but their roster depth was enough to grant them passage into the next round. Now that they've recouped star striker Nico Castillo in time for the playoffs, the 13-time league champions look threatening in their quest for back-to-back league titles.

7. NECAXA 

End of season grade: A-

Losing star forward Brian Fernandez might take the wind out of their sails for what lies ahead, but there's no denying Necaxa did a heck of a job in the regular season, coming out of nowhere to claim a playoff spot in the Clausura 2019. Their 1-0 win over Queretaro gave them 29 points on the season, good for sixth in the league table.

8. ATLAS 

End of season grade: D-

Rumors abound as to who will own the team come next season, but it's safe to say that despite the 2-0 win over a Monterrey still sporting their CONCACAF hangover, Atlas' season was a near-total bust. Winners of six, losers of 10 games on the season, Atlas will again miss out on the playoffs.

9. CRUZ AZUL

End of season grade: B+

Within the span of a few weeks, Cruz Azul lost the Apertura 2018 championship and star midfielder Ivan Marcone in the transfer market. Manager Pedro Caixinha made the necessary adjustments throughout the season and eventually turned his team around, finishing in the top four with 30 points.

10. MORELIA 

End of season grade: F

Disappointment abounded for Morelia fans, who suffered through some of the worst football this team has provided in a long time. On Saturday, the Monarcas went out on a bittersweet note, tying 1-1 with Cruz Azul at the Estadio Azteca.

11. MONTERREY

End of season grade: A+

The lackluster 2-0 loss against lowly Atlas ended the regular season on a bit of low note. But with continental glory is now in the rear-view mirror, Monterrey looks to double up on their success following their CCL win. With a vast roster of stars and a strong third-place finish, Rayados will be favored to move on from the quarterfinals and beyond.

12. CHIVAS 

End of season grade: F

A nightmare season is finally over for Chivas, who went through managers Jose Cardozo and Tomas Boy in a semester that saw them gain only 18 points. Perhaps even more troubling, Guadalajara will begin the Apertura 2019 with very real relegation issues.

13. PACHUCA 

End of season grade: A-

The switch between Pako Ayestaran and Martin Palermo proved fruitful, and Pachuca played fantastic ball at home to give them a playoff spot following a rough start. Though they'll be massive underdogs against Tigres, this team has surprised more than one opponent over the course of the semester.

14. PUMAS UNAM 

End of season grade: D-

Following a season in which they won only four games, a rebuild starts now for Pumas. Jesus Ramirez has been brought in as general manager, and discussions on possibly signing Antonio Mohamed or Hugo Sanchez as coach have begun. Unquestionably, Pumas will have to get better on the pitch -- and signings are more than necessary to facilitate a quick turnaround.

15. PUEBLA 

End of season grade: C

A mixed bag for Puebla this season, who were revived upon seeing Jose Luis Sanchez walk through the door as manager once more. Ultimately, they fell short in Tijuana, crumbling to an opponent motivated by Puebla's apparent certainty towards going through to the playoffs.

 16. LOBOS BUAP

End of season grade: C-

The ultimate goal for Francisco Palencia's team was to stay afloat -- and they did so. However, they did have multiple opportunities to get into playoff spots even late on in the season, but were unable to capitalize, losing three of their last four.

17. QUERETARO 

End of season grade: F

A historically bad start doomed them, eventually ending the season with 12 losses, just one less than Veracruz. There's plenty of players to build around next season, though manager Victor Manuel Vucetich will have his work cut out as Queretaro doesn't appear to spend as freely as they once did.

18. VERACRUZ

End of season grade: F-

By all rights, this team should play in the Ascenso MX next season. Owner Fidel Kuri has until Friday to pay the league a $120 million ransom to continue and bring the top division's count to 19 teams come next summer.

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