Liga MX Woes

While some of Europe’s top leagues have just started or are preparing to start, Mexico’s top flight, Liga MX, is already in full swing. Five games into the season, teams are already positioning themselves for a spot in the playoffs with some teams starting to break away from the pack, such as Club Tijuana, while others, such as Leon, seem to be struggling for form. This late, or early on depending on your viewpoint, there is little room for error and in the ever changing coaching environment of Liga MX at least one manager is already out of a job.  Here are the league’s most disappointing sides:


Cruz Azul

It might be a tough pill to swallow for Cruz Azul fans but the club’s glory days of the 70’s are long gone. Sure Cruz Azul might have had a short stint of fame in 2013 and 2014, a period of time which saw La Maquina lift a Copa MX and a CONCACAF Champions League title, however the club is far from where it should be. Traditionally Cruz Azul is regarded as one of the big four in Liga MX, but their recent woes have put their status as one of the Grandes of Mexican football in danger.

While Cruz Azul will always remain one of the most supported teams in Mexico the team’s performances on the field have yet to match the level of expectations fans set upon their team. Currently Cruz Azul seem all but out of ideas upfront and the South Americans strikers which the club brought in over the summer all seem to be firing blanks.  As a result La Maquina have only managed to score two goals thus far in the league, something which, will have to be remedied if the club harbors any postseason aspirations.

Things are not all doom and gloom for the Mexico City based club, however, as the team’s defense has remained stalwart through the season claiming three clean sheets and only conceding three goals. With a solid backline there might be more room for optimism than fans of La Maquina might have previously thought. Sure there is room for improvement up front, but their strong backline will keep Cruz Azul competitive in most games.

With a solid defense and players packed with potential up front, all fans of Cruz Azul need to do is be patient. If the forwards could start bagging the goals on a regular basis and take their opportunities when they come La Maquina very well might return to their winning ways.

 

Chivas

It is often said that, under Almeyda, Chivas’ style of play merits a position higher up the league table than what their current position often suggests. However, Chivas have only managed two wins and two goals thus far in the league. And their current situation leaves Chivas fans wondering why a striker wasn’t brought in to replace Omar Bravo. It is true that there are attacking options for Chivas, however Angel Zaldivar, who only managed to score his first league goal of the season this past weekend against Santos Laguna, has shown that he is far from the in-and-out striker Chivas need.

Angel Zaldivar has big shoes to fill after the departure of Chivas legend Omar Bravo. (Photo from El universal.com.mx)

While Zaldivar is a player straight out of the Chivas academy who still has many years to give to the club, he simply isn’t the striker Chivas are desperate for. The lack of attacking prowess has so far been Chivas’ biggest concern and two goals in five games is enough to warrant genuine concern amongst Chivas fans. Moreover, the team’s midfield, with players such as “Gullit” Pena and Juan Vazquez, has the potential to be one of the best in the league. However, the midfield players have yet to click, leaving younger players to pick up some of the slack. The fact of the matter is that Chivas are far from a cohesive unit and it shows in their lack of real goal scoring opportunities.

When the opportunities are there, however, Chivas seem to squander them, putting unwanted pressure on some players and most notably “Gullit” Pena. As a consequence of “Gullit” not making the most of his goal scoring opportunities the midfield player has been benched and it is doubtful that he will be the last if results hold. Though to be completely fair seven points from a possible 15 isn’t the worst in the world and when taken as a whole, apart from a devastating loss to Club Tijuana, the season hasn’t been too bad.

The only real worry for Chivas fans should be the way the team is getting results. The team simply hasn’t played well and were it not for a few moments of individual brilliance from Nestor Calderon and Angel Zaldivar, Chivas’ position in the league table would look very different from what it is now.

 

Santos Laguna

Five games into the Liga MX apertura season and Luis Zubeldia has become the first manager to be out of a job, though eagle eyed observers might be quick to point out that Zubeldia officially stepped down from his position as manager. In his place comes in former Chivas and Mexico national team manager “Chepo” De la Torre. “Chepo” will have to find a way to get the most out of a Santos team which has yet to win a game in all competitions. With only two points from their first few games Santos look to be marooned at or near the bottom of the table for another season.

In the past, managers such as Pedro Caixinha have always managed to get the most out of their players. Caixinha managed to win three titles with Santos Laguna between 2014 and 2015 by using through balls and pace to bypass opposing defenses. By and large Caixinha masked his team’s own deficiencies by exposing those of their rivals. If “Chepo” De la Torre wants to succeed at Santos he might have to look back to Caixinha for ideas. Fortunately for “Chepo,” however, he won’t have to look too far back for inspiration.

 

Club Leon

There genuinely isn’t much good to say about Club Leon this season. The team thus far has been nothing short of a disaster. The club has only scored one goal and has already conceded 11 in their first five games of the league campaign. With an aging strike force, the team has an average age of 28, Leon seems to have a hard time finding the back of the net. While age works in the favor of clubs such as Tigres and Monterrey, working to provide much needed experience to the younger players of the squad, the age of many of Leon’s players seems to have an opposite effect.

Leon are currently undergoing one of their worst runs of form since returning to Liga MX in 2012. (Photo from Periódico El Nacional.mx)

At the moment the team is slow and lumbering. They have sold many of their younger players over the past few transfer windows which might explain the lack of youth in the squad. However, those gaps which have opened up as a result have, as of yet, not been adequately filled. As a result the current Leon squad is a far cry from the one which managed to win back to back Liga MX titles in 2013 and 2014. If results don’t change soon current Leon manager, Luis Fernando Tena, might be looking for a new job in the near future.