Lack of firepower hurting Chivas
GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- Chivas' recent 10-day tour of the United States was an opportunity to smooth over cracks and stitch together a more cohesive side that had been reinforced with seven new faces in the offseason. Instead, Saturday's 3-0 loss at Pachuca in the team's third match of the Apertura seemed to point to the jaunt north of the Mexico border entrenching lingering problems.
On Wednesday, their 3-0 loss to AC Milan in Houston left doubts, but with the quality of the opposition, the shoddy pitch and the friendly nature of the game, it was possible to brush it off.
Chivas' performance was no better than those under coaches Ricardo La Volpe or even Jose Luis "Guero" Real, who have both had stints in charge this year.
Carlos Bustos -- as early as it is in his spell in charge as coach -- will already be feeling the pressure considering the frequency with which Chivas chop and change managers and the overshadowing presences of Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre and Victor Manuel Vucetich on the coaching sideline awaiting work.
It is easy to pick apart defensive errors against Pachuca.
The defending for the first goal in the 41st minute was comical. Jesus Sanchez and Jair Pereira got in each other's way on the right to allow Erick Gutierrez to cross. Inside the box, "Pato" Araujo and Carlos Salcido defended fresh air, leaving Ariel Nahuelpan free to head in.
Pachuca's second was also all too easy, as was the third, and it could've been more if not for a couple of top-class saves from Antonio Rodriguez.
The regular switches from the flat back four to the three-center-back line over the past 12 months -- under Juan Carlos Ortega, Real, La Volpe and Bustos -- can't be helping to forge understanding and cohesion between the defenders.
But despite the difficulties in defense on Saturday, it has been the other end of the field where Chivas' biggest problem lies as the club seeks to avoid relegation.
In the third minute against Los Tuzos, Israel Castro swung in a left-wing cross that was inch-perfect for Carlos Fierro, but the youngster headed straight at Oscar "Conejo" Perez when he should've scored.
Perhaps it would've been a different game if he would have scored, as it might if Omar Bravo had tucked away his golden opportunity with the score still at 0-0.
But with Aldo de Nigris booed off by the Chivas-majority crowd in the Estadio Hidalgo after another inept display, Bravo battling but not producing goals and Fierro at times lost, Guadalajara have forward players suffering from a crisis in confidence at a time when they can ill afford it.
Even incoming substitute striker Alberto "Guamerucito" Garcia managed to get himself sent off with a late tackle in the 76th.
The Rebano Sagrado have yet to score from open play this Apertura and has hit just 29 league goals in 34 games over the past 12 months. Over that same period, Chivas have netted more than once in only five games. In 2014, Chivas have just 15 goals in 20 Liga MX games.
Put simply, you won't win many football games scoring so few goals and it isn't so easy to get local Guadalajara fans excited by the team.
It's a problem Bustos has inherited, but he has to find the solution quickly. Time isn't on his side.
Tom Marshall has been based in Guadalajara since 2008 and has written about Mexican football ever since. Find him on Twitter @MexicoWorldCup.