Liga MX Review: 11 goals Allowed in Three Matches. Are Chivas in Crisis?
Chivas just suffered a brutal week in which it lost three games in six days, none of them close. It's not great, but also not nearly as bad as it looks.
Ulises Ruiz Basurto, EPA
After the final whistle blew for Sunday night's friendly in Los Angeles between Chivas and Arsenal, Los Rojiblancos emerged with a 3-1 loss to the English Premier League club and a third straight defeat in less than seven days. With 11 goals allowed during the aforementioned three-game run and only two scored, heavy criticism began to pour in from those who watched the team stumble through the week.
Should fans be worried? Are Chivas now in a crisis? Let's first take a look back at those recent results.
On Tuesday night's Copa MX match against Chiapas, Los Rojiblancos' problems started with a poorly-timed tackle from Nestor Calderon, which earned him a direct red in the 28th minute. After the red was shown, Chivas' 10-man squad struggled to maintain control and eventually lost 4-1 at home.
Three days later, the Guadalajara side once again allowed four goals, this time at the hands of Tijuana during Friday night's Liga MX match at the Estadio Caliente. Los Xolos easily ripped through Chivas' helpless backline and were able to rack-up a 3-0 lead by halftime. With the game all but over by the start of the second half, Tijuana sat back and absorbed the opposition's pressure without ever seeming to be in danger.
A late penalty and subsequent goal for Los Xolos in the 70th minute secured the three points and a 4-0 win over the visiting club.
This leads us to Sunday night in Los Angeles. After two matches in four days, Chivas were scheduled to wrap-up their week with a friendly against Arsenal. The game looked like more of a cash-grab than anything else, considering all the $100 (and up) tickets being sold, was a success in that sense. But in every other way the third game wedged into Los Rojiblancos' busy week was not inspiring. Chivas manager Matias Almeyda utilized a young starting XI that was at first eager to impress with high-pressure soccer, but later faltered defensively against the superior Gunners roster. Regardless of whether the match mattered, the loss capped a week of underwhelming and disappointing performances.
So: is this bad news for Chivas and their supporters? Should fans buy into the pessimistic talk that is now surrounding the club? Not exactly.
First, we must consider the fact that four players from the Chivas roster recently left to train with Mexico's Olympic team. Michael Perez, Carlos Salcedo, Marco Bueno, and Carlos Cisneros, who are now all in Brazil, are key players for Chivas, and were unavailable during what was arguably the club's busiest week of the year. Also, let's not forget that the team's all-time leading goalscorer, Omar Bravo, shocked many with his departure and move to the NASL's Carolina Railhawks just a few weeks ago.
So in the recent losses, several youngsters and a couple of untested names were forced to handle crucial minutes. For example, during the defeat by Jaguares, Almeyda gave Copa MX debuts to starters Josue Lazaro and Edson Torres. Those two have still not yet made their professional debuts in the Liga MX, and were also on the bench for Chivas in the match against Tijuana. Just a few days after receiving their first minutes with Los Rojiblancos, Torres and Lazaro were given the start opposite Arsenal. Michelle Benitez, another untested youngster who has yet to gain his first minutes in the Copa MX or Liga MX, was also given the start against the North London club.
With a depleted roster and a busy schedule, a couple of losses were perhaps to be expected. He didn't have much choice, but Almeyda used Sunday's friendly as an opportunity to experiment and audition some young talent, and did his best to balance out his options in the Copa MX and Liga MX games.
Youngsters and new names aside, Chivas does deserve some criticism for last Friday's match in Tijuana. Several experienced and talented options like Jose Juan Vazquez, Isaac Brizuela, Carlos Peña. and Jair Pereira played poorly against Xolos. It was clear that Almeyda was saving his best for the Liga MX match, but he was left empty-handed after the embarrassing defeat by Miguel "Piojo" Herrera's roster.
Yet, as far as poor performances and runs go, Chivas' bad run is nothing to seriously worry about. News outlets and analysts will be constantly and incessantly discussing the 11 goals allowed, but the circumstances were the circumstances, and the negative scrutiny seems badly overblown and exaggerated.
Last season, during the 2016 Clausura, Los Rojiblancos weren't able to collect a single victory in the tournament until Week 9 of the competition. Even after the poor start, the team was still able to sneak into the playoffs in fifth place.
In a worst-case scenario for Chivas—that's one in which Mexico's Olympic squad goes all the way to the Gold medal game—the club will still have its full roster by Week 7 of the season. The team already has a win in hand, and that full roster, whenever it gets back, is still a strong one. Perhaps most importantly, they won't face another week of three games in six days.
Note from Week 3 of the 2016 Apertura
• Following a narrow 1-0 victory at home against Necaxa, Pachuca is now the only team in the Liga MX with three wins out of three matches. The 24-year-old Colombian Stefan Medina provided the game-winning opportunity in the 38th minute and has been vital to Los Tuzos with his three goals in the competition.
• In what could be a preview for the playoffs, Tigres dominated America at the Estadio Azteca with a 3-0 victory in Mexico City. Los Auriazules' Andre-Pierre Gignac and Javier Aquino stole the show with their eye-catching goals for the visiting Monterrey side.
• Thanks to heroics in net from goalkeeper Alejandro Palacios, Pumas scraped by with a 1-0 win against Leon on Sunday. The 35-year-old veteran appears ready to once again help carry his team to the playoffs.
• Morelia responded to comments regarding low-scoring games in the league with a 4-2 victory against Santos Laguna in Torreon. Peruvian striker Raul Ruidiaz was superb for Morelia after collecting a hat-trick for the visiting side.