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Hernandez: Five to watch in Liga MX

Liga MX Aug 28, 2014
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Jul 27, 2014

Chivas show promise in win vs. Pumas

Fernando Arce bagged his second goal from a set piece in two games.

GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- Chivas defeated Pumas 1-0 on Sunday to take victory in Ciudad Universitaria for the first time in almost 10 years. Fernando Arce scored the winner from a free kick in the 87th minute, 10 minutes after Angel Reyna had been shown his second yellow card for throwing the ball at Pumas' David Cabrera.

The victory means Chivas will travel to the United States for friendly games against Bayern Munich and AC Milan with four points from their opening two games in the Apertura 2014.

More displays like those against Pumas, and Guadalajara will move away from relegation danger with some ease this season. Here are five takes from the win against Pumas:

Arce again comes up trumps

The 34-year-old midfielder is a dead-ball specialist, and his free kick from 30 yards exemplified the point and made it two goals from direct free kicks in two games this season.

Chivas looked dangerous from corners and free kicks with Arce standing over the ball. It's been a while since we've seen Guadalajara threaten from those positions. A neat technician on the ball and with a work rate that belies his years, Arce is looking like a very decent signing.

Three center-backs works

An injury to Nestor Vidrio -- who is being heavily linked with a move to Europe -- meant manager Carlos Bustos had to switch up his defense. He decided on changing the whole shape of the team and introduced a 5-2-3 formation, with Jesus Sanchez as the right wing-back, Gerardo Rodriguez on the left and Pato Araujo in central defense, alongside Jair Pereira and Carlos Salcido.

It seemed to catch Pumas coach Jose Luis Trejo off guard, and the team from Mexico City never really seemed to settle into the game, perhaps due to Chivas' pressing and intensity.

The indecisiveness and lack of pace at the back in the past weekend's game against Chiapas wasn't evident with the spare center-back there to cover. The system also allowed Omar Bravo and Reyna to cut inside more regularly and support lone striker Aldo de Nigris, with the wing-backs overlapping.

The inexperienced and relatively unknown Bustos came out of the game looking very good.

Vergara must now see the value in spending on new signings

Only two of Chivas' starting XI against Pumas -- Sanchez and Antonio Rodriguez -- weren't bought in the past 18 months. Spending big money to basically buy a new team surely wasn't pleasing for owner Jorge Vergara, who was previously reluctant to get out his checkbook and sign expensive players.

- Cuauhtemoc Blanco plays in Liga MX at 41

On Sunday, you could see the positive results of bringing established Liga MX players to the club. That shouldn't be lost on Vergara.

A look at the bench shows that Bustos now has the arsenal to change the game, bring on certain players in specific situations and have genuine competition for places within the squad. The second-half display against Pumas was Chivas' best for some time, and the spending looks like it will pay off.

Something still not clicking up front

Chivas haven't scored from open play so far this Apertura. Bravo is starting to look like a weak link on the left wing. The 34-year-old's work rate and commitment cannot be faulted, but he has missed golden opportunities to score in both games so far this Apertura and doesn't provide the same penetration he used to.

Striker de Nigris is also not in form. His control hasn't been up to scratch, and he isn't impacting games the way he was in preseason.

Introducing Carlos Fierro is the obvious option for replacing one of the duo, perhaps playing the talented youngster down the center.

The dark side of Reyna

Referee Cesar Ramos put in an unconvincing performance, and it was natural players were frustrated, but Reyna overstepped the line.

He picked up his first yellow before halftime for talking back to Ramos and the second for throwing the ball toward Pumas' Cabrera. Reyna was perhaps unlucky, but he shouldn't be putting himself in that position with his experience.

Reyna was again a bright spot before the red card, and Chivas need him on the pitch, not out suspended.