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Hernandez: Five to watch in Liga MX

Liga MX Aug 28, 2014
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 By Tom Marshall
Jul 20, 2014

Five takes from Chivas versus Chiapas

GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- Chivas Guadalajara built up Sunday's Liga MX Apertura MX opener against Jaguares de Chiapas as the start of a new era at the club, after a summer in which owners Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes had pulled the checkbook out and spent big on six new signings to stave off relegation.

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ChiapasChiapas
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They had done as fans had demanded, and the average age of 30.8 years for the Chivas outfield players pointed to a more stable, authoritative Guadalajara this Apertura.

Yet the nervousness and indecisiveness that has hampered Chivas in recent seasons was again present, and Chivas were slightly fortunate to escape with a 1-1 draw in front of a crowd of 31,066 in the Estadio Omnilife.

Fernando Arce struck a free-kick that deceived and wrong-footed Cesar Lozano in the Chiapas goal in the 35th minute to put the Rebano Sagrado ahead, with former Chivas player Julio Nava equalizing for the visitors with a finish into the bottom corner of the net in the 67th.

Omar Bravo had a golden opportunity to steal the game in the 90th after a defensive error from Chiapas, but he couldn't connect with the ball with the goal gaping.

Here are five takes from the game:

Angel Reyna is best as the center of attention

Chivas' best moments came from debutant Reyna, who forced a good save from Lozano with a volley in the 64th minute and, in the dying seconds, almost took the points with a strike from the edge of the penalty area.

Reyna started the game on the right of a three-player forward line, but coach Carlos Bustos moved him inside midway through the first half into a No. 10 role playing off Aldo de Nigris (with the team switching from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 formation).

From the central position, Reyna roamed between the defense and midfield and could better control play when Chivas had the ball -- though Chiapas shaded possession. It looked to be the position in which not only can he do the most damage, but also from where he can get this side ticking.

Angel Reyna played well in his Chivas Guadalajara debut.

Antonio Rodriguez proves his worth

The 22-year-old goalkeeper came up with important interventions on a number of occasions and emitted a sense of confidence, following a preseason in which he has been battling for the spot with returning veteran Luis Michel.

Coach Bustos said in the postseason press conference that there are no guarantees moving forward, and it will depend on performances in training, but Rodriguez came up big with one top save in each half and is set to be Chivas' No. 1 for the Apertura and years to come, barring significant loss of form.

The defence is shaky

The centre-back pairing of Jair Pereira and Carlos Salcido is decent enough on paper, but the two looked very slow and vulnerable on Sunday, as Chiapas easily created chances that Rodriguez had to react to.

A lot of work is required to integrate the duo, and Salcido might have gotten a warm reception on his return to the club, but he'll have to prove that at 34 years old, he can fend off the likes of Patricio "Pato" Araujo for the starting position.

Off-the-field problems just won't go away

The news broke Sunday that Juan Manuel Herrero had resigned, and though there has been no official announcement from the club, Herrero is set to give a statement on Monday, according to ESPN Deportes.

Herrero leaves after just over six months on the job and at a time when the club requires stability. The relationship between Francisco Palencia, Herrero and Rafael Puente Jr. -- who govern the club day to day under Vergara -- never seemed ideal, and Herrero leaving is likely to be the first of a number of changes, including to the club's youth structure.

Manager Carlos Bustos has enough issues to deal with on the pitch without the distraction of Chivas' boardroom troubles.

Bizarre Chicharito appearance

The announcement came Saturday that Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and his grandfather, Tomas Balcazar -- another club legend -- would be appearing to give the "patada inicial" (first kick) of the Apertura.

The event, however, was low key, with Hernandez and Balcazar appearing approximately 10 minutes before kickoff at the side of the pitch with a scrum of people around them and the stadium only about 40 percent full.

Tom Marshall

Tom Marshall has been based in Guadalajara since 2008 and has specialized in writing about Mexican football ever since. As well as contributing to ESPN Insider's Mexico National Team blog (@ESPNtri), he co-hosts The Mexican Soccer Show podcast and can be found on twitter @MexicoWorldCup