LIGA MX APERTURA

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Time running out for Chivas' Galindo

TORRID TIMES
Chivas coach Benjamin Galindo is under pressure after a poor start to the season.
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Kyle McCarthy

Kyle McCarthy writes about the beautiful game for FOX Soccer, the Boston Herald and several other publications. Follow him on Twitter.

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MEXICAN CROSSROADS

Disappointing Gold Cup run raises questions about El Tri's World Cup qualifying fate.

Mexico’s best-loved club is in crisis. Again. Guadalajara tried to shake off their woes this summer when they decided to keep manager Benjamin Galindo and signed Monterrey forward Aldo de Nigris when they could have scrimped and saved instead. Simple things which simply increased expectations ahead of the Apertura.

Once again, Chivas has fallen short of just about all of them. Performances are poor, circumstances are adverse and the march to the top of the table has gone well off the path. Chivas now face renewed questions about the direction of their project. More upheaval may be in the offing.

Tension increased in the wake of their dispiriting 3-1 defeat at Cruz Azul on Saturday. Galindo faced new questions about his future after Joao Rojas scored either side of halftime (including the opener from an offside position) to hand La Máquina their first home victory over Chivas in nine years. It proved no less than the home side deserved on the day, though Chivas cobbled together a couple of decent spells (particularly Rafael Márquez Lugo's equalizer from the spot six minutes after the interval) along the way.

The problem is, there have only been a few intermittent moments of competency this season in Guadalajara. It isn't entirely fair to expect three points from a trip to the defeated finalists from the Clausura, but a haul of four points from four games – including one victory, an unconvincing 1-0 home triumph over bottom side Atlante last weekend – represents an unacceptable return from a side capable of considerably more.

Benjamin Galindo continues to feel the heat as Guadalajara manager this season (Photo: Tomas Bravo/Reuters).

Galindo can point to a series of events outside of his control for the poor start. De Nigris (knee sprain) and Jorge Enríquez (hamstring) have missed all four matches due to injury, though de Nigris could return as soon as next weekend after playing with the under-20 side this weekend. Marco Fabián and Márquez Lugo linked up with the squad belatedly after their Gold Cup travails and received rather pointed admonishments from Galindo to improve their performances. Miguel Ponce, Héctor Reynoso and Miguel Sabah all settled for places on the bench against Cruz Azul after dropping out of the side recently due to poor displays.

Yet none of those remedial measures have addressed the underlying concerns or improved results. The spine of the side lacks the necessary strength in central defense and central midfield (at least without Enríquez). The reinforcements up front created a formidable outfit in the final third, but the consistency and the familiarity between the group remains uncertain in these nascent days. The team, on the whole, still looks far short of the standards established by Club América and Cruz Azul at the top of the division.

Throw it all together with recent reports of, let’s say “spotty” professionalism from members of the squad prior to their win against Atlante, and the situation looks untenable for Galindo in the long-term. The team’s decision to cancel practice on Sunday even prompted speculation about an imminent departure. He escaped the sack this time but he cannot -- and likely will not -- ward off the club's chaos if dire results persist.

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Galindo's recent struggles and Chivas' willingness to chop and change in the dugout should place him atop the sack race, but Pumas UNAM manager Antonio Torres Servín currently holds that honor by a fair distance. Pumas' dreadful start to the season continued with a 2-0 defeat at revamped (and still injury-tattered) Club Tijuana on Friday night. Another loss against revitalized Club León at Estadio Olímpico Universitario on Sunday could see Torres Servín exit shortly after the final whistle.

Tigres' 3-1 victory over Monterrey at Estadio Universitario included a pair of goals from Alan Pulido and a pair of Monterrey dismissals, including a touchline expulsion for manager Victor Manuel Vucetich. Just another bland, placid affair to celebrate the centennial of the Clásico Regio.

Veracruz maintained their surprising perch atop Liga MX with a 0-0 draw at Puebla on Sunday. Influential schemer Ángel Reyna reaped the rewards – such as they are at this stage of El Tri's delicate existence – for his scintillating opening period with a call-up for Wednesday's friendly against Côte d'Ivoire.

RESULTS: Querétaro 1 – Chiapas FC 1, Club Tijuana 2 – Pumas UNAM 0 (Friday); Cruz Azul 3 – Chivas 1, Atlante 2 – Club América 4, Tigres UANL 3 – Monterrey 1, Club León 0 – Morelia 0, Atlas 1 – Pachuca 1 (Saturday); Puebla 0 – Veracruz 0, Toluca 2 – Santos Laguna 2 (Sunday)

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