Sorry Chivas scoreless again
GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- You can imagine Chivas Guadalajara fans everywhere screaming at the TV during the team's 0-0 away tie against relegation rivals Veracruz on Saturday.
"Just stick the ball in the back of the net!" would be the essence of the cries.
Once again, the team failed to do just that. It is now 274 minutes since Chivas scored in a Liga MX game and the team's only two goals this Apertura 2014 have come from direct free kicks by Fernando Arce.
Not putting chances away has become a serious problem for manager Carlos Bustos and the draw brings increased speculation over his job at a club not exactly well-known for giving coaches time to turn things around. It also leaves the pressure of possible relegation still hanging over the club.
"There were timely plays from [Angel] Reyna, [Omar] Bravo and [Carlos] Fierro," Bustos said in the news conference after the game. "We kept going forward; the team deserves more in the games."
The match against Veracruz was not particularly entertaining to watch, but that wasn't entirely Chivas' fault.
Veracruz set out with a mission to stifle Chivas, tackle hard, break up the flow of the game with tactical fouls -- there were 35 in the match -- and look to hit on the counter through powerful Colombian Christian Martinez and the rapid Argentine Daniel Villalva.
And the strategy almost paid off in the first half, with Chivas' increasingly impressive keeper Antonio Rodriguez making a good save in the 29th minute from an Edgar Andrade header that Martinez had set up.
Despite the chance, Chivas shaded the first 45 minutes, although the Rebano Sagrado again looked predictable going forward and the high number of crosses into the box seemed at odds with a physically small forward line of Reyna, Bravo and Fierro.
Reyna increasingly took hold of the game after the break, wielding his influence against his old club. He should've been given a penalty in the 58th minute and produced a sublime chipped ball over the top from which Bravo went clean through on goal, only for keeper Meliton Hernandez to save.
It was perhaps the key moment of the game and one that aptly sums up Chivas' predicament. Bravo, Aldo de Nigris and Fierro are struggling for form, Reyna's efforts to set them up are wasted, and the lack of invention aside from Reyna means the team isn't producing enough chances anyway.
Teams like Veracruz can and will play on it and while Bustos says the team deserves more, it is hard to agree when Chivas have such a major problem in the fundamental aspect of winning football matches: goals.
Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.