Chivas' offensive woes continue in draw vs. Cruz Azul
GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- The counter on how long Chivas have gone without scoring a Liga MX goal ticked up to 364 minutes on Sunday, following another insipid 0-0 tie, this time against Cruz Azul.
That Chivas center back Carlos Salcido was the team's best player says a lot and Chivas' misfiring forward line -- with Aldo de Nigris in place of Carlos Fierro -- looked as clumsy, short of confidence and out of tune with each other as they have all season.
The result leaves Chivas in 16th place as it heads into the relegation fight against Guadalajara rivals Leones Negros next Sunday, with the team yet to score a goal from open play in its six games this season.
The pressure is very much on coach Carlos Bustos and had the referee called a blatant penalty for a second-half challenge by Fernando Arce on Mauro Formica, his reign could already be over.
"It was Chivas that tried to force the game, be the protagonists and Cruz Azul -- with a good squad -- was well set up," reasoned Bustos after the game.
Bustos again lamented the lack of goals and said the relegation situation will sort itself out between now and the end of the season, but the excuses are wearing thin, even if it isn't entirely the manager's fault that the strikers are missing with such frequency.
A loss next weekend would surely seal Bustos' fate and -- as unimaginable as it may seem -- if Chivas keep up their current ratio of points per game from now until next May, the team will be relegated.
Rivals Puebla picked up three points on Saturday against Morelia and Leones Negros are showing signs that they are getting it together and getting used to life in the first division.
Just the fact Chivas are only one point above Puebla is staggering in itself, considering just how poor La Franja has been in recent years and the way the club shifts its squad seemingly every offseason.
If there is one redeeming aspect of Chivas' game at the minute, however, it is in defense, with the team not having conceded now in its past two matches.
Goalkeeper Antonio Rodriguez again saved the team on two occasions and is showing remarkable awareness, security and timing in coming out for the ball for a 22-year-old.
Rodriguez stopped Christian "Chaco" Gimenez from scoring in the 12th minute when he was bearing down on goal and made a late stop from Mariano Pavone to save the point for Chivas.
Salcido was a brick wall against La Maquina -- who was also poor -- while "Pato" Araujo and Nestor Vidrio are looking increasingly solid in their roles on either side of him.
Elsewhere, though, there are problems that aren't going away.
Arce had a poor showing on Sunday, right wing back Jesus Sanchez isn't currently looking like a first division player and Angel Reyna was marked out of the game.
Up front is the real disaster, with De Nigris bereft of confidence, Omar Bravo currently a shadow of the player that Chivas brought from Atlas and youngster Fierro also suffering from that same lack of confidence.
Next week's game against Leones Negros is now set to be the defining one for Chivas' season. The pressure if the team loses would be unthinkable, but even putting the words Chivas and relegation in the same sentence would've been crazy a few years ago.
Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.