With a goal from Angel “Chelo” Zaldivar, Chivas and Chelo both ended their scoring drought giving Chivas their second win of the season. Although the team was able to pull off the victory, El Rebaño was far from convincing on Sunday night. Had it not been for some big interventions from Rodolfo Cota and the goalpost behind him, this game might have ended much differently. Almeyda’s team possessed the numerical man advantage for part of the second, but even though Almeyda was fielding a very offensive line up, they were not able to take advantage of their superiority. The victory Sunday night was a step in the right direction, but it still has a long road ahead of it if they are to reach the objectives that were set out in the off season.
Here are my three takeaways from the match:
1) Scoring Still An Issue
Dating back to last season, the inability to put balls in the back of the net has been this team’s Achilles heel under Matias Almeyda. After taking the lead early against Santos, Chivas had everything in their favor to score a few goals and give the team the confidence that they so badly need. Yet the team seemed to be complacent with a one goal lead. Even when Santos lost a man, more importantly a center back, it seemed like the floodgates would open, but instead Santos seemed like the more dangerous side. Almeyda needs to find a way to get the team’s confidence back up because it’s not only Gulit Peña lacking the confidence to score a goal—seems like it is everyone on the team. The one positive from last night’s game was that “Chelo” Zaldivar finally broke his drought and has matched his season total from last year. Let’s hope this helps jump start Zaldivar’s confidence because if this team is to make a deep run, they will need to start scoring again.
2) Crisis Averted….For Now
For the moment, the victory over Santos has cooled the talk about a crisis in Guadalajara. The victory could help stabilize a team that was trending down, but things aren’t as black and white as they seem. The team’s performance was poor versus an even poorer Santos team. In fact, it was the type of game you would expect from two teams in the bottom half of the table. These types of performances aren’t going to cut it versus the top teams in the league. It’s not just the lack of goal scoring ability. Last night, there was a lot of inconsistent play from players the likes of Carlos Salcedo Jr and Isaac Brizuela. The players on the field seemed unmotivated and, like I mentioned earlier, complacent with the 1-0 lead. Almeyda must find a way to use the victory over Santos as a catapult for long-term success and motivation to win again.
3) Big Signings, Little Play
The two biggest signings for Chivas in the last year have been ex-Leon players Carlos “Gulit” Peña and Jose Juan “Gallito” Vazquez. Both are enjoying quality time on the Chivas bench and deservedly so. Peña’s desire to play for the club has been questioned since his arrival, and he was able to dispel a lot of that talk when he scored eight goals last season. This season has been a different story. He’s lost all his confidence along with his starting position to “La Chofis” Lopez, and I do not see him winning it back—at least not the starting job. The team plays much more smoothly, and the attack seems more dynamic with Chofis than when Peña is on the field. Even when he does come on as a sub, he squanders the opportunity he does have. For his part, Gallito seemed destined to take over the holding midfielder role over the aging Carlos Salcido. While he was given the starting role for a few games, he was largely inconsistent. Last night, when Salcido went down with injury, Almeyda chose to go with Michael Perez over Gallito which says a lot about the confidence he has in Gallito. With Salcido out for an indefinite amount of time, Chivas needs both of these players to step up and provide the experience and leadership this otherwise youthful squad needs.