ESPN FC's Liga MX Clausura Playoff Awards: MVP, unsung hero and more

The 2017 Clausura has come and gone, with Chivas crowned champions for the first time since 2006. We've laid out the good, the bad and the ugly of the season and named our best and most disappointing XIs. Now, our experts Tom Marshall, Nayib Moran, Cesar Hernandez and Eric Gomez make their picks for most valuable player, unsung hero and more. Have your say and vote below!

Most valuable player

Alan Pulido, FW, Chivas

This is a difficult one because Chivas' championship victory was all about the team ethic and squad unity. But if you have to pick one player, it'd have to be Pulido. The striker led the team from the front and scored the opening goal in each leg of the final against former team Tigres, almost exactly a year after he was kidnapped. Chivas' problem all season had been their constant squandering of chances. When the time came, Pulido stepped up and provided the solution. -- Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup)

Before Pulido scored two goals in the final against Tigres, his performances in the Liguilla saw him give results in areas of the pitch where his defensive skills stood out. In each playoff game, Pulido left his heart on the field, and the Chivas faithful will agree. -- Nayib Moran (@nayibmoran)

Andre-Pierre Gignac, FW, Tigres

Pulido was the clutch player for Chivas in the final series, but we can't ignore what Gignac did during the entire playoffs. Although the France striker emerged without a title, Gignac collected an impressive total of six goals and one assist in the Liguilla. -- Cesar Hernandez (@cesarhfutbol)

Rodolfo Cota, GK, Chivas

The goalkeeper was an afterthought for Pachuca, who loaned him out to Chivas. Cota was initially in competition with Tono Rodriguez and won the job by impressing Matias Almeyda thoroughly. Throughout the playoffs, Cota pulled off a gaggle of spectacular saves that kept his low-scoring team in the hunt amid tense moments. In the final, he stifled Gignac, Ismael Sosa and the rest of Tigres' high-powered offense just enough to guide his team toward La Doce. -- Eric Gomez (@EricGomez86)

Unsung hero

Carlos Salcido, DF, Chivas

The versatile 37-year-old left school at age 11, accidentally found Chivas at 19, played in the Netherlands and England and at three World Cups, and now finally has a title with the club he started with. Salcido was a rock for Chivas in the playoffs, the leader of the side and the experienced head that helped guide the team over the line. -- Marshall

Salcido was eager to get his first league title with Chivas and showed a level of play we had not enjoyed from the former PSV defender in the past four or five years. He was a shadow for Tigres strikers in the final, stepping up and filling in after injuries hurt the Goats in the playoffs. If this was Salcido's moment to ride off into the sunset, he does so with his head held firmly high after a fantastic career. -- Gomez

Jose Juan "Gallito" Vazquez, MF, Chivas

Even though there were other players in Chivas' XI who knew what it took to win a Liga MX championship, Vazquez was significant for his team's title aspirations. In an area of the field where the battle was going to be complicated, Chivas needed "Gallito" to give phenomenal performances against players like Guido Pizarro and Jesus Duenas. He stepped up his game and Chivas were able to upset Tigres. -- Moran

Orbelin Pineda, MF, Chivas

There's something to be said about the 21-year-old Chivas player. Pineda was the glue in the middle of the pitch and a vital source of movement forward with the ball. Despite a lack of goals, the hardworking midfielder was crucial for the Guadalajara club with his endless energy. -- Hernandez

Best moment

Vazquez's second-leg final goal

The nerves inside Estadio Chivas were instantly converted into sheer euphoria when Vazquez's shot hit the back of the net. It was the moment when the Chivas players and faithful really started to believe the title was theirs. -- Marshall

Guzman's first-leg howlers for Tigres

Nahuel Guzman's errors in goal allowed Chivas to have an unprecedented 2-0 lead at Tigres' El Volcan. The mistakes put Tigres' backs against the wall and even though they walked away from the first leg with a 2-2 tie, the complications suffered in that match were preventable. -- Moran

Pulido's second-leg opener

Before the second leg of the final, Tigres were still the favorites to win the championship. That all ended when Pulido scored his world-class golazo for Chivas during the 17th minute of Sunday's second leg. -- Hernandez

No call on late final penalty

Yes, Chivas dominated Tigres in the final. They are justified as this season's champions and they deserve all the credit. But, they did commit a crucial foul that went uncalled and could have changed everything. Sosa was clearly fouled in the dying embers of the final's second leg, and a penalty could have sent the game into extra time, assuming it was buried. We'll never know and that's a bitter pill to swallow for Tigres fans. -- Gomez


Atlas' second-leg performance against Chivas

Atlas went into the quarterfinal second leg against Chivas 1-0 up and in a very strong position with the away goal in place. But the Rojinegros -- without key striker Matias Alustiza -- were lackluster all over. -- Marshall

Santos' poor home showing vs. Toluca

Los Guerreros had all of the tools they needed to go far in the Liguilla, but their defensive errors in the first leg cost them the series against Toluca. That game in Torreon finished 4-1 in favor of Toluca, but it could have been a win by a bigger margin. -- Moran

Unsatisfying end for Herrera at Xolos

Sure, Tigres were the clear favorites to win this season's trophy, but it was fair to expect more from Miguel Herrera and his roster. After an excellent run in the Clausura, Xolos entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed for the second tournament in a row. Unfortunately for Tijuana fans, Herrera ended his time with the club with a quiet semifinal finish. -- Hernandez

Tijuana was Mexico's "European" champion this year, dominating both the Apertura and Clausura regular seasons. Xolos should have been in position to challenge for this season's title, but they got sidetracked by one off-the-pitch item the whole country was talking about. Herrera put his side in a position to fail by acquiescing to media members about his return to Club America. It was bizarre, distracting and ultimately sucked the life out of the squad. -- Gomez