Chivas are terrible, but they aren’t getting relegated

Guadalajara manager Matias Almeyda is struggling to steer the club out of its recent rut.

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Indignities continued to pile up for Guadalajara. Chivas are one of Mexico’s two largest clubs, but they can’t seem to get out of their own way. The past couple of years have transformed this proud institution into a punch line and turned the club into a relegation contender.

The latest setback arrived in typically galling fashion on Sunday. Club León entered Estadio Omnilife and sauntered out with a 1-0 victory. Matias Almeyda’s side stunk once again. Star signing Carlos Peña exited at halftime after a dreadful opening 45 minutes against his former club. Almeyda expressed his displeasure with the situation after the miserable experience concluded.

“Today, I realized this is the moment when we reached the bottom,” Almeyda told reporters in his post-match press conference. “Chivas has hit the bottom and should be a spring to jump up again. How do we achieve that? Changing [the lineup] and seeing who has the right mindset and who wants to take us forward.”

Staggeringly enough, Almeyda isn’t quite right. Chivas are no better under him than they were under José Manuel de la Torré or any of the other rotating cast of managers employed to pull the club out of trouble over the past few years. They sit on four points after six rounds, a meager total good enough for 16th in the 18-team league. They are poor by any reasonable measure. And yet their plight and their current station as the second-best club in Guadalajara isn’t nearly desperate enough to send them down to Ascenso MX.

Chivas’ salvation arrives through incompetence elsewhere. Not even the mess in Guadalajara is enough to keep Dorados de Sinaloa from spiraling out of Liga MX at the end of the Clausura.

In a sign of their miserable state of affairs, Dorados actually posted their best result of the Clausura at the weekend in a 3-2 defeat to Apertura finalists Pumas UNAM.

Their sixth consecutive defeat left them adrift at the bottom of the table on zero points, but the setback at least yielded the first two goals of the Clausura. A narrow defeat actually constitutes an improvement for one of the worst sides to grace the league in years. The recently promoted outfit — a club admittedly without the resources to truly compete at this level — essentially renders the relegation table irrelevant with its inability to collect results.

Credit the structure of Liga MX’s relegation system for Dorados’ inevitable return to the second division at the end of the campaign. There is only one team relegated at the end of the Clausura. Dorados finished bottom in the Apertura. They are headed for bottom in the Clausura. And their points average for the relegation table is taken over one year, not the three years used for other relegation-threatened clubs like Chivas, Morelia, Puebla and Veracruz.

Unless Dorados suddenly figure everything out and peel off an unforeseen winning run through the next 11 matches, they are poised to spare Chivas from the drop. The next change in the percentages table — dropping the 2013-14 season from the calculation when the 2016-17 campaign starts — favors Chivas and plunges Morelia into deep trouble, too.

Those modest silver linings spare Chivas from complete disaster, but they do not solve the concerns created by Jorge Vergara’s calamitous ownership or the issues within the squad. The reprieve is coming, even if it won’t supply much relief for a massive club lurching from setback to setback.