Not only did Monterrey put up a 0 at home against Chivas in last Saturday’s season opener, but they did so as well in their friendly on Tuesday night against Argentine club River Plate in Austin, Texas. Coincidentally, both matches ended in 1-0 losses for the blue and white. And it’s not that Rayados didn’t have opportunities to score, but more so that they flat out squandered all of them, including a PK sent over the crossbar at the end of the Chivas match by Berterame.
Now, it’s not just a matter of scoring. There’s more to be dealt with down the road for this club, especially in terms of intensity and finding a real tactical scheme, something that seems to be lacking in Vucetich’s squad through these initial two matches. But scoring would definitely be a start. Here’s Vuce’s take: “Having a team that generates and produces so many chances gives me peace. It’s the path we should be on. It’s tougher to create those opportunities. I know that with each player’s ability and confidence, the goals will come at any time.”
I agree with the first part. Let’s face it; they have generated a ton of chances. But as I mentioned earlier, there’s more to fix than just that. With that being said however, I will say that the first step for this club is to start scoring goals. Nothing gives a club more confidence than to see their strikers scoring and giving them leads. So, if you at least have that bit in order, you can move on to the next.
And could they be facing a better rival for their current need? Probably not. The reason for this is the fact they’re visiting a Cruz Azul squad who are fresh off a season where they were second to last in defense where thet allowed a whopping 34 goals, ahead of only Querétaro’s 35. Speaking of which, La Máquina brought in Jordan Silva from Gallos as their only defensive reinforcement. Odd that’s the path they’d take. And while it’s not confirmed as of yet, Mazatlán FC’s Carlos Vargas appears to be Cruz Azul’s latest addition to the roster on defense for the season.
In short, Monterrey have a great opportunity to finally crack the goal against one of the league’s worst defenses who didn’t really do much to improve during the winter break. And now’s the time, before they start leaving vital points on the trail, making it impossible to make up enough ground to get a top 4 spot in time for the playoffs.
Cruz Azul are coming off a 1-1 road draw against bottom dweller Tijuana, so not the best of starts, but considering they were down 1-0 with under 10 minutes to go, it could’ve been worse. That combined with Rayados’ home loss to Chivas makes for a couple desperate clubs to get their first win. That being said, the regios definitely have the most star quality out of the two, and with the return of Duvan Vergara (who looked in rhythm vs. Chivas) to this high-octane offense, I fully expect them to get back to winning ways and explode against a clearly weak defense. Not to mention, their dominance over La Máquina; including last season’s playoff matchup, in their last 6 meetings, Rayados have won 3 and they’ve drawn 3. If you go further back, Cruz Azul have only won once in their last 10 meetings, so a matchup that does favor Vuce’s club, and I expect that to continue tonight.
Cruz Azul 1-3 Monterrey