Thanks to a great one-touch volley shot from Nestor “El Avion” Calderon, Chivas won their first game of the season in front of their home crowd. The victory had tremendous implication for a team that entered the match with a lot of pressure. Not only did this win relieve Almeyda of the stress to acquire this season’s first victory, a feat he didn’t get until week 9 last season, but it also gave the team three points and got Chivas TV started on the right foot. The club’s online channel televised the first game of the season in Mexico, and for the most part, it went off without a hitch. If Chivas continues to win, it will surely help boost subscriptions for the ever-growing channel.
The game itself was a pretty even matchup with both sides pushing to impose their style of play, but Chivas held the edge in the possession category over Monterrey. Even with Chivas maintaining the majority of the possession, Monterrey was still very dangerous on the counter, and it wasn’t until Nestor Calderon’s one-touch rifle shot from out the box in the 67th minute that put Chivas ahead and gave the team the victory.
Here are my three takeaways from the match:
1) Matias Almeyda
The Argentine must be on FMFSOM reading our articles because a lot of the changes we asked for earlier in the week were made, and they worked. With Carlos Salcedo preparing for his participation with the U-23 Olympic team, he was left on the bench, and Carlos Salcido was put at center back to work alongside Jair Pereira. This made way for the debut of Jose Juan “Gallito” Vasquez in the starting lineup. His inclusion allowed for Orbelin Pineda to push up higher and not have to drop back and recover as much as he normally does when Salcido is at center defensive midfielder. Also with addition of Gallito to the lineup, the team’s recovery of balls and fluidity was quicker.
Another lineup change that was forced on Almeyda due to the U-23 Olympic team call-ups was Nestor Calderon’s debut. Carlos Cisneros was left on the bench, and although Calderon doesn’t have as much depth as Cisneros on the wing, his tendency to pinch in when playing left wing, allowed him to be at the right place at the right time and score the opportunity he had.
Also, the reason I definitely know Almeyda has been on FMFSOM reading articles is because when he brought on Eduardo “La Chofis” Lopez, he did not bring him for Isaac Brizuela. Instead, he brought him on for Carlos Alberto “Gullit” Peña. This was a change I wrote about in my Pumas post game observations article. Gullit continues to be imprecise with his touch. Isaac Brizuela and Chapo Sanchez make an excellent tandem on the right wing, so it was clear where the change had to come. The inclusion of Chofis to the lineup made for a much more dynamic and dangerous attacking front. Even though the goal came on a solo effort, the team was knocking on Monterrey’s door more dangerously when Chofis was in.
2) Starting 11
With the U-23 set to start their preparation for the Olympics on Monday, Almeyda went up against Monterrey with the lineup we will be seeing until the Olympics are over. If you are a Chivas fan, this should inspire some confidence in you. The team didn’t score many goals, but it was the first time this particular lineup played together. They were also playing against one of the better sides in Liga MX, who is supposed to be a contender for the title. The team didn’t lose much with the new additions to the lineup. In fact, the team’s attack seemed much quicker with more fluidity. Like I mentioned earlier, with Gallito in, it allows Almeyda more flexibility for the attacking half of the lineup, and it gives Orbelin more freedom to join in the attack next to Gullit. If there is any area where this lineup might have some issues, it is at center back. Salcido, at 36 years old, doesn’t have the burst he once had, and Jair Pereira isn’t exactly known for his speed. However, they do make up for that with smart positioning and intelligent tackling. Overall, this starting 11 is a solid bunch whose best soccer is still ahead of them.
3) Lack of Goal
Although Chivas won and played well, let’s not crown them the champions just yet. After all, it is only week 2. While I listed nothing but the positive from Saturday night’s game, Chivas is still lacking in the goal-scoring department. With Omar Bravo now gone and Marco Bueno joining the U-23 Olympic team, Zaldivar will be the only forward on the roster. Chivas needs him to take advantage of the opportunities he is given. Zaldivar is a great compliment to this offense, but he continues to lack the finishing touch a striker requires. Saturday night against Monterrey, he had at least two clear opportunities that he should have put in the back of the net, but he ended up squandering them. In a league where every game counts, taking advantage of goal scoring opportunities will be key if Chivas is to make a late run everyone expects. With the season still in its early stages, there is plenty of time for Zaldivar to right the ship and start the scoring streak we are all waiting for.