Club Universidad de Guadalajara, known affectionately as Leones Negros [the Black Lions for those truly Spanish-impaired readers], won the fall season of Mexico’s second division. In addition to some nice silverware, the victory in Liga Ascenso MX’s Apertura 2013 earns U de G a place in the promotion playoff against the winner of the Clausura 2014.
Leones Negros were the fifth placed team in the regular season of the Apertura 2013 and thoroughly defeated fourth placed Merida FC in the quarterfinals. U de G whitewashed Merida in the quarterfinals by posting a massive 5-0 scoreline in the first leg at home. Despite being outplayed during the return match, Leones Negros advanced 5-2 on aggregate.
As the lowest seeded team remaining in the Liguilla, U de G had the task of taking on first placed Oaxaca in the semifinals. Leones Negros took a first half lead at home hosting the regular season winner Oaxaca and held on for the 1-0 win. U de G then kept Alebrijes to a 2-2 draw in Oaxaca to earn a place in the finals.
After beating the best team from the regular season, Leones Negros faced Necaxa in the two-legged final series. Necaxa mostly coasted through the playoffs, taking a two goal lead in the away fixture before capping the quarterfinals with another two goal victory at home. In the semifinals Necaxa stormed out to a big lead against Delfines in Campeche, ultimately flying to a 7-0 aggregate win.
Leones Negros completed the Cinderella its run by beating Necaxa 2-1 on aggregate. U de G took a 1-0 lead from the first leg at home (el partido de ida) in Guadalajara courtesy of veteran second division forward José Cruz Gutiérrez.
Neither team made a breakthrough in the first half of the second leg but the game in Aguascaliente opened up after halftime. A red card to Necaxa’s Gómez gave the impetus to U de G to finish off the tie and Gutiérrez capitalized on a header to beat goalkeeper Edmundo Iván Vázquez in the 56th minute for his second goal of the tie. A late goal from Brazilian Jonatas Goncalves was little more than consolation for Necaxa before the final whistle.
Thanks to the two goals from Gutiérrez and solid play from the whole team throughout the Liguilla, Leones Negros lifted its second ever league title and its first in the Liga de Ascenso. Now U de G must be licking its chops at the prospect of being one two-legged series away from a return to the top-flight Liga MX.