There’s bad, there’s ugly, and then there’s the Club Atlas scoring numbers from last season. Atlas fans may want to avert their eyes, but here’s a quick recap of some of the team’s offensive stats from the Clausura 2012 season:
7 – Total goals scored (in 17 games).
0.41 – Goals per game average.
10 – Games held scoreless.
0 – Games scoring multiple goals.
4 – Number of Atlas players to score.
Looking back at these numbers it’s actually amazing that Atlas finished as high as they did in the league standings. Despite scoring a paltry 7 goals (by far the worst in the league), Atlas finished in 11th place overall. The team ended the season with four wins, eight draws, and most impressively, only five losses.
The one saving grace was the strength of the defense. The play of the Atlas offense and defense last season were worlds, if not galaxies, apart. While Atlas held the unwanted distinction of sporting the league's single worst offense, their defense rated statistically as the league’s second-best, with only 13 goals conceded. To illustrate the incredible play of the Atlas backline in the face of an AWOL attack, look no further than the six-game stretch in the middle of the season where the team failed to score a single goal. It’s a testament to the defense that Atlas lost just two of those six matches. Even with absolutely zero support from the attacking third, the Rojinegros still managed to pull out results.
This season, new manager Juan Carlos Chavez has promised a switch to a more offensive style. Courtesy of a few offseason moves, Chavez may actually have the personnel to successfully pull it off. The biggest new signing is Hector Mancilla, who brings his veteran scoring touch over from Tigres. Additional support comes in the form of enigmatic striker Vicente Vuoso (last with Club America) and midfielder Luis Alonso Sandoval (last with Morelia). New to the Mexican league is Ecuadorian Luis Bolanos, who joins Atlas on a loan deal from Internacional. All experienced veterans, these four players bring enough talent to immediately improve the play of the Atlas attacking front.
On the backline, the team loses Rogelio Chavez back to Cruz Azul, but keeps the core of the defensive unit intact. Defenders Facundo Erpen, Leandro Cufre, and Hugo Isaac Rodriguez, along with goalkeeper Miguel Pinto, will look to duplicate their impressive play from last season.
With this roster, the team’s stated goal of a Liguilla spot is actually not a pipe dream. The most immediate danger, though, is the relegation battle. Before Atlas can begin dreaming of Liguilla success, they need to produce immediate results in order to move a few steps back from the relegation zone cliff.
Hector Mancilla and Vicente Vuoso -- Expect to see the two veteran strikers get a solid amount of time together up front for Atlas this season. It's also a safe bet that the two newcomers can surpass the team's total scoring output from last season on their own.
Mark Your Calendar
Week 15 vs. Chivas Guadalajara -- On October 28th, Atlas will travel across town to take on Chivas at the Estadio Omnilife. Atlas hopes to duplicate their Clasico Tapatio success from last season, when they earned a 1-0 victory over their popular rivals.
Mid-table -- If the defense can stay strong and the offense can find its footing, Atlas can easily improve on last season's 11th place finish. How much of an improvement, though, is the big question. Mid-table, on the fringes of the Liguilla zone, looks to be the most likely finish for the Rojinegros.
This is the second in our series of Liga MX team previews ahead of the Apertura 2012 season. See our earlier preview of San Luis.