Signs of Chivas revival continue
The playoffs are still on for Chivas.
And with the optimism that has swept through the club since Ricardo La Volpe took over the club as coach on April 2, you wouldn't bet against them making the postseason.
Sunday's 1-1 draw against Morelia may have been a case of two points dropped for Guadalajara, but there was no doubt Chivas shaded the game and should've won.
The younger players, in particular, impressed.
Carlos Fierro looks to have gained bucket-loads of confidence since La Volpe took over, while David "Avion" Ramirez has been a revelation on the right wing. Both have injected the side with directness and the burden of pressure that La Volpe talked about last week that had weighed down players seems to have been lifted.
Fierro has his head up more, is taking responsibility on the ball and running with it, the same as Giovani Hernandez, who came on at halftime.
"What I liked is that the team grew 20 or 30 percent football-wise (from the previous game against Pachuca)," said La Volpe after Sunday's game. "But we still have much to do."
During the week in preparation for this Sunday's match in Mexico City against Pumas, the long training sessions will continue as the Argentine drills in his ideas about how the game should be played.
"We are in a process, in a change of ideas, a change of coach, looking for new things," was La Volpe's assessment after the Morelia match.
It is perhaps too late now to improve the overall fitness of the players, which has been a cause for concern over the last two matches. La Volpe's demanding high pressing system has highlighted that certain players don't have the stamina levels required. On Sunday, Omar Bravo lasted only 45 minutes on his return from injury, while Aldo de Nigris was exhausted after harrying the Morelia defense for much of the game.
These kinds of things will take time and even though the playoffs are still a distinct possibility, it is already tempting to speculate on what the next transfer window may bring for Chivas as La Volpe shapes his squad. The core of youngsters is likely to stay the same, with Hernandez, Fierro and Ramirez all set to feature heavily.
Upfront, De Nigris will keep his place, Erick "El Cubo" Torres could return from Chivas USA and Bravo and Fierro could also play more centrally. In the fullback positions, La Volpe will hope Jesus Sanchez recovers from injury and slots in at right wing back, although a new option may also be good, while Gerardo Rodriguez may need some competition on the left. Goalkeeper Antonio Rodriguez has a bright future, but a more experienced face would bring more solidity in the position for the present.
What would be ideal is another really big name somewhere to get fans excited about the direction of the club. Oribe Peralta, Luis Montes or Jesus Corona would fit the bill, give everyone a lift and bring a little star quality that seems to have been missing over recent seasons.
On top of that, getting the professionalism, experience and versatility that Carlos Salcido could inject would still be worth the outlay for the example he could set to the youngsters, even if he didn't play every week. The same goes for Jonny Magallon, who shouldn't have been allowed to leave for Leon and would bolster the depth chart in defense.
But the speculation won't begin in earnest until after the Clausura 2014 is over. For now, Chivas fans can at least garner some enjoyment from the feeling that La Volpe is the right person to mold a team capable of challenging for titles, if given time and financial backing.
Real is back:
Jose Luis "Guero" Real was relieved from his duties as Chivas' first team coach to make way for La Volpe, but will continue at the club as head of sporting development, with Juan Carlos Ortega vacating the job to assist La Volpe with the first team.