Mexico Depth a Concern, not a Priority

LOS ANGELES, CA. –If friendlies were measured by the result on the scoreboard, Mexico’s summer of soccer did not get off to the most favorable of starts.  Luckily for Juan Carlos Osorio and the rest of the Mexico squad, though, Mexico’s 2-1 loss to Croatia will serve as a much better barometer for what Mexico is than what Mexico aspires to be.

Aspiration:  to be a team that can go 20 players deep.

Reality:  Mexico is a team that only goes 14-15 deep.  The sooner Juan Carlos Osorio realizes that, the better Mexico’s summer of soccer will go.

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Crisis? What Crisis? – The Gentlemen’s Agreement

We’re back!  In this installment of the Gentlemen’s Agreement, futmexnation contributor Joel Aceves and CantinaMX podcast host John Jagou expose the truth behind the “crises” of certain Liga MX teams, the decision to broadcast LigaMX games in English, and they pay their respects, sort of, to once proud rivalry.

 

John Jagou:  Joel, We are now one third of the way into the the Clausura 2017 season.  And if I don’t say so myself, we have been pretty spot on with how we expected the tournament to play out.

It is almost as if we have been watching Mexican soccer for decades.

 

Joel Aceves:  It is as if we are binge watching our favorite Netflix series for the third time. Last week Tigres manager Ricardo Tuca Ferretti talked about being worried for the team’s poor form [four loses out of six games this season], but claimed that this was no reason to claim that the team is in a crisis.

He’s right.

The short season lends itself for the media and fans to exaggerate these types of situations. This is especially true for more popular clubs like America. The media is having a field day with their poor form [12th place in the table] even though they are only six points from first place Toluca.  As we have seen before anything can happen in 2-3 match days to shake up the league table.

 

JJ: Tigres fans should be ashamed of themselves for even conceiving the #fueratuca hashtag. The coach has elevated Tigres to heights last enjoyed when Tomás Boy, Osvaldo Batocletti and Patrulla Barbadillo roamed the Volcán as players. Not to mention the fact that Tigres had a slow start in the ’16 Apertura. Breaking news… Tigres always has slow starts.  When will the fans learn.

América is another issue, only because their coach, Ricardo Lavolpe, is a walking, talking train-wreck waiting to happen. It is only a matter of time before the wheels come off.  At least Tigres has the excuse of playing poorly vs decent teams.

But like you said, the league’s parity allow for little slips that can easily be adjusted with a 2 or 3 game win streak.

 

Joely:  Despite the competition created by the short season format with teams being able to finish the season in 8th place and going on to win the league title I still prefer the long season format. I prefer playoff system for Cup tourneys which as has just been announced there will be a joint Liga MX/MLS cup this year. As long as both leagues take the tourney I am all for it. I don’t really care to see how Liga MX bench warmers fair against MLS sides.

 

JJ:  It has been nearly 20 years since we have seen long seasons, and most of us don’t know a Liga MX without a post-season.  Because of the format, yes, 8 seeds can win, and they have. But not as often as you think. The seeds that have won the most titles have been the #2 and #3 seeds. Which makes sense as we have seen an 8 seed take down the pole-sitter time and time again, making it easier for the next in line to take the crown.

The liguilla ain’t going anywhere, but at least it is not a 10-team tournament like it used to be.  But 8 is still too many. I would suggest limiting the post season to 6 teams to give the top 2 seeds a 1st round bye. That way rights holders still get 3 weeks of postseason, and the top teams are assured of making the semifinal round.

Speaking of rights holders, Univision made quite the announcement.

 

Joely:  Yes sir, they will be streaming Liga MX games in English via Facebook. This is something Liga MX should have done years ago. And even Chivas could have tested before doing their failed Chivas TV. So, how do you think this will play out?

 

JJ: This is not the first time Liga MX games have been broadcast in English. A few years ago, ESPN broadcast a handful of Liga MX games when they had acquired the English-language rights for Tri broadcasts.

That only lasted a season.

I do believe this endeavor will have better staying power. It is a shame, however, that it has to be a broadcast partner, and not Liga MX themselves that proceeded with this venture.

For all of their chest-puffing about being one of the world’s top leagues, they have consistently proven to lack the vision and planning to move the league forward in this 21st Century.  Their website is half completed and, frankly, a mess.  Their twitter presence, to be fair, does an excellent job of posting goals as they happen.

 

Joely:  It also shows how divided the Liga MX club owners are. The Televisa and TV Azteca duopoly that existed for many years seems to have drawn a line in the sand a line that will now be divided with the expansion of two more open broadcast television stations. Clubs should now be getting more money but also it can and should lead to a shake up within the Mexican Football Federation. It is now more independently run as opposed to being a puppet to the big two television stations.

The next years should be interesting as FMF will most likely begin to get restructured. By 2022 we can be seeing a whole new management in both league and national team.

 

JJ: The underlying issue is that the clubs negotiate their own broadcast rights. But for years they had to put up with the scraps from what they got from the duopoly who would, in turn, broadcast games locally on a pay channel.   And since there was no centralized power to combat this, the teams (more importantly, the fans) just had to sit there and take it.

Now that Liga MX is separate from FMF, the next logical step is to negotiate broadcast and digital rights collectively. I am pretty sure they can do better than the $120 MM per year that was mentioned in the Guardian Article.  That averages to 6.7 MM per team.

A collective contract can also set broadcast windows, but there is no reason a team has to play in the same one every other week. I would like to see a Friday night window, 3 Saturday windows, 2 Sunday windows, and, wait for it… a Monday Night window.

 

Joely:  Monday Night Futbol would be just as big as the Liga MX Apertura 2016 Christmas final.  It would also expose more viewers to less popular clubs. All of these proposals could be feasible in the next years. It just remains to be seen if the club owners can work together for the greater good.

If they can have a Gentleman’s Agreement over player transfers, then I’m sure they will have another one over League and national team rights.

 

JJ:  National team rights also look to be released from the steely clutches of the duopoly after 2018. Perhaps the revenue generated from those rights fees will enlighten the owners.

The National team just finished playing another Molero in Las Vegas. Was it an exercise to find a Gold Cup squad or was Osorio looking for wrinkles to add for the upcoming qualifiers?

 

Joely:  Friendly games played on non-FIFA match days allow the coach to work with players that they normally wouldn’t get this kind of attention.  It is the main reason why I don’t place too much emphasis on collective game play. This, however, doesn’t stop the media from being over critical on the team’s performance. Some of the players were coming from playing 2-3 games as is the case with the Chivistas who had a Boca Jrs friendly sandwiched between Copa MX and League play. Others like Giovani Dos Santos are in pre-season form. Still, having this opportunity to test players helps Mexico in the long run as the coach has a good idea on what players are up to the task.

 

JJ:  I could not agree more. It was all about individual performance. Was Gio rusty?  Oh yeah, but he still served Alan Pulido for a perfect cross that led to the lone goal. The player that I believe is making a push to be considered in the starting XI vs Costa Rica is Orbelin Pineda. The Chivas youngster has been superb wearing stripes and green over the past six months.  He might be the best Mexican on the planet right now.

The lack of scoring from the goal generators was a little disquieting heading into Hex.3, but Carlos Vela, Tecatito, and Chicharito all appear to be catching fire at the right time. Hernandez was the most worrisome, but it looks like he had some extra motivation.

 

Joely:  Cheech definitely regained his mojo: scoring on and off the field. He now has three goals in two games with Leverkusen and will be celebrating this Valentines with Thalia’s niece Camila Sodi, who used to be married to Rogue One’s  Cassian Andor! The timing for Mexican strikers to step up their game couldn’t have been better. They should all be in peak form for when the Hexagonal resumes in March.

 

 

https://twitter.com/CH14_/status/831456884410478594

awwwwwww

JJ:  Overall it was a good weekend for Chivas fans: their favorite son scored a brace with two excellent volleys, and later that day, the sacred herd reminded Atlas that Mariachis sing about Guadalajara, not académicos.

If I were an Atlas fan…. I should just stop right there.

Since they won’t be winning any championships any time soon, the only possibility of any kind of bragging rights that Atlas fans have is winning the Tapatio. And they can’t even do that right.

Things will get worse for Atlas before they get better.  They will be mired in the relegation muck next season. The new bosses have proven the only thing they can do is pay the players on time.

Atlas is, has been, and always will be a mess. They are the Clippers and Jets rolled in to one sad, sad, team.

As a Chivas fan, I can’t even think that this game is even on your radar.

 

Joely:  Absolutely Yon, if I were Chiva management I would have already released a statement claiming that Chivas no longer considers Atlas rivals and therefore are nullifying the Clasico Tapatio.  Chivas can just wait around for Tecos or Leones Negros if they want a derby.

Good thing they have worthy rivals in America. Despite the Aguilas poor form I wouldn’t count them out for this weeks Super Clasico. A win here would do much to get them out of the ‘Crisis’ they are in. Chiva are favorites but I would be feeling better if the match was at Azteca. My one complaint with the Goat-in-Chief Matias Almeyda is that the team doesn’t have a strong home field advantage. Even in games where the team gets penalty kicks and plays up a man they fail to win. I’m predicting a draw here.

 

JJ: It is a shame that Guadalajara cannot turn their home stadium into a Citadel. And I am still dumbfounded that Chivas fans waste the chance to sing the most iconic Mexican song when things are going their way. Instead they cheer ole ole ole chivas chivas. Pathetic!!

I am liking the way Chivas is playing, but America needs a win. It should be a good one.

We might have to have a live gentlemen’s chat during the match. And we will definitely dissect, blame, praise and ridicule next week.

 

Joely:  Sounds like a plan Yon!

 

Catch John and Joel every Wednesday on the CantinaMX Podcast live on youtube at 9pm CT, or on itunes.

Follow Joel on twitter @joelyaceves

Follow John on twitter @jjagou

 

Mexican Coaches Making a Statement – Gentlemen’s Agreement

The latest Gentlemen’s Agreement has arrived.  In this edition, CantinaMX Podcast host John Jagou, and FutMexNation Columnist Joel Aceves discuss the early success from unexpected sources.  And the Gentlemen explain the Azteca myth and why it might be time to play elsewhere.  As always, the Gentlemen recommend a fine sipping Tequila as an adequate enhancement to this column.

 

John Jagou:  Joel, The LigaMX Clasura17 season is month old, and who would have guessed to see Pumas and Santos near the top of the table, joining last season’s table toppers, Xolos?

 

Joel Aceves:  Yon, I am glad to see that the top three teams are being coached by Mexican’s and they are doing it without having had to break the piggy bank to build their squads. Of the three we can say Xolo’s is the least surprising. They finished last season in first place. At the other end we have the Apertura 2016 finalists Tigres and America having a difficult time as we had predicted.

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Is 2017 the Year Chivas Win it all? – The Gentlemen’s Agreement

 

It is back for 2017! In this edition of the Gentlemen’s agreement CantinaMX Podcast host, John Jagou, and CantinaMX Barfly & Futmexnation.com contributor, Joel Aceves return from the Delphic Oracle to give their interpretation of what they heard from Pythia about what to expect in 2017.

And when we say Pythia, we mean Paquita, the local bartender.

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Gentlemen’s Agreement – Is Raul Jimenez up to the Challenge

gentlemenIn yet another edition of the Gentlemen’s agreement, the aforementioned swaddled some cognac, lit some cohibas, and dug in to a rather lackluster start to the Liga MX season, among other topics.  Pour yourself a cognac and join in the fun.

 

John Jagou:  Joel, Chivas TV made its regular season debut and it was not terrible, according to the 20 people that watched it. I am sure that Liga MX was thrilled that one of their marquee games of the season was so readily available. But it may not be such a bad thing, because the quality of play from the first two weeks across the league, as my high society Spanish friends would say, ha sido paupérrimo.  The fans have noticed as well.  Attendance has been well below average

 

Joel Aceves:  Yon, the poor start of the Apertura, with very few goals to boot, was to be expected given the early start of the season. Seems like many teams are still on pre-season form. My beloved Goats are even playing a friendly game against Arsenal this Thursday. That said, I was trying to track Chivas TV numbers but have been unsuccessful. I’ve only managed to find estimates. Those being that for every 1 Chiva fan watching the clubs stream in Mexico there will be 20 Americanistas watching their club on television. The reports talk about Chivas TV having 500,000 people watching their stream compared to 10 million for free T.V. The numbers for the Tshirt presentation were at 190k and that was free. We must also add that Chivas TV reported that 46% of the people that watched their match against Monterrey were Rayado fans. Then there are the numerous complaints about the streaming qualities with the image freezing and the delayed sound.

Not all is lost though. Chivas owner Jorge Vergara already saidt hat if Chivas makes the league final the match will be on television. However, I am guessing that if Chivas TV streaming doesn’t pick up, as they are already offering 2 games for 1 specials, if they make the playoffs, their games will be shown on Television. Read more

Gentlemen’s Agreement: 10/8 Consequences and Chivas TV

gentlemen

 

After a bit of a hiatus, the gentlemen have returned to discuss the upcoming Liga MX season, the best story out of the Eurocopa, and Chivas’ shame spiral.  Join Futmexnation’s Joel Aceves and soccerchronicle.com writer John Jagou for another edition of the Gentelemen’s Agreement.

 

Joel Aceves:  Time to talk Liga MX which will be kicking off soon and the new 10/8 Rule has begun to take effect. Former Pumas striker, and U20 player, David Izazola has retired at 24 years of age. He released a letter claiming Mexican players aren’t treated fairly in Liga MX. Looking at the recent draft about 200 Mexican players were left without a club. Is this something to worry about or its just growing pains as the 10/8 Rule gets cemented in the league.

 

John Jagou:  It would be interesting to see how many foreign players were left out in the cold. Jared Borgetti, a few weeks ago, lamented the fact that opportunities for Mexican players are finite, while foreign players get second, third, fourth, fifth chances. Couple that with the fact that national players have a finite number of days to work a contract out while foreign players are given a much bigger cushion.  What the rule does mean, is that Mexican players are going to have to expect a very high level of competition for roster spots. In that sense, we could see players rise to the occasion. That may not be such a bad thing.

 

JA:  There is no guarantee, however, that the players that do make it will be of high quality. The Premier League and the English national team has been our example as to which direction Mexico is headed. Well see a more dynamic league but a NT that struggles. It is my belief that the more nationals we have playing the more talent that we will naturally develop. The Argentine league expanded to 30 teams. They have a 3 player foreigner limit for their 23 man squads giving them a pool of 600 players for their national team to choose from. Liga MX with 18 clubs and about 10 Mexicans per team is looking at a pool of 188 players. And seeing how the 10/8 Rule extends to 2nd Division I feel that ultimately the league will fail to produce enough talent to make the Tricolor a top 10 team.

 

JJ:  There is no question that a deeper talent pool would generate a greater amount of above average players. But the two leagues you cite have different objectives than Liga MX. First off, the Premier league makes no accommodations for having a minimum number of English players. It is not uncommon to see starting XIs with nary an Englishman, and it is why English players are sold at a premium.

Mexico mandates a minimum of Nationals on a gameday roster. England does not. Where the two leagues are similar, is that they are both importer’s leagues. Which is in stark contrast to the other league you mentioned: Argentina. The business model for most Argentine clubs is to develop players and sell them in the market. Transfer fees are their life blood. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of Argentines playing all over the world. Look around any league. I would bet that Argentines compose the majority of foreign talent from the Americas. Even more than Brazil. And that doesn’t even take into account the Argentine coaches that permeate every league on the planet. I am not a big fan of the rule either, but without it teams could field a roster of foreigners and naturalized foreigners. Look at Xolos a few years ago.

Moving on to the Eurocopa, Iceland’s performance in qualifying for Euro and their run in the tournament itself has turned the model of how talent is developed on its ear. Less people live in Iceland than those that live within 4 square miles of you. England was humiliated (I am not sure why, they were beaten by a better team) and US fans are second-guessing their models.

 

JA:  One word John: Consistency! This Iceland team was close to qualifying to the 2014 Brazil World Cup. You can say because of lack of a deeper pool they have had to maintain their same squad but that is a proven method of success. We have often talked about how recent World Cup champions all have one thing in common: a core group of players that play week in, week out, in the same squad. This is something England lacks given how their top teams are filled with mostly foreign born players. I’ve seen English Premiere League games were out of the 22 players on the field there are only 2 nationals.

As for the U.S. it seems like they have never been able to settle on a model even though they were quite good under Bruce Arena. Like Mexico the USSF’s fault lies in trying to find answers abroad.

 

JJ:  People seemed to have forgotten that Iceland knocked off Holland in qualifying. They were a good side, but their lack of depth did them in against the French. Those were some tired Vikings in Stade de France. Les bleus n’ont pas perdonné. Regardless, people should now begin to realize that a soccer player’s most important characteristic is not necessarily being athletic. In a sport controlled by a foot, there will always be imprecisions. Technique, awareness, and intelligence should be the boxes ticked before athleticism. I am not saying athleticism isn’t important, but it should not be what coaches look for first.  Oscar Pareja, the FC Dallas coach who has had a lot of success with his youth system, says it takes him a year to eliminate new players’ bad habits.  He is all about teaching skill first.  A lot of good players get overlooked in the US because they do not pass the eye test.

As for England, they, like Mexico had a lot of individual players who had fine seasons. But, like Mexico their coaching did them in. In this case, Roy Hodgson did little to adjust to the game. JCO over-adjusted. But you are right. Both Mexico and the US have the pieces, they just need someone to see it.

 

JA:  Speaking of pieces the Mexican Football Federation has decided to bet on Juan Carlos Osorio’s project. Which leads us to two interesting questions. The first: will he continue to call up the European based players that broke down on him and second will he decide for a more manageable Liga MX squad? This comes along with the introduction of the *10/8 rule which has already given this upcoming Apertura season a record number of foreign player signings…and the transfer window has yet to close!

 

JJ:  If Any Liga MX team with a base of Mexican players has success, then Osorio has to make that group the base of the national team. That will be a big if, though, as clubs appear to be facilitating the signing of foreign players. It is one of the reasons why I believe the national team’s best hope lies with a strong Chivas team. But as we both know, you more than me, if there is one team that is mismanaged more than Mexico, it is Chivas.

 

JA: This is how my beloved Chivas is currently being managed. The club has recently begun ‘restructuring’ and decided to release General Manager Jaime Ordiales and physiotherapist Rafael Ortega from their positions which duties will now be handled by the technical director Matias Almeyda! Now, I can understand the GM not being needed but Ortega is a former Chiva player and renowned doctor that specializes in football injuries. He loves the club to the point that he offered to still be of service. Seems a bit absurd to be placing so much responsibility on Almeyda who will leave if the right offer comes along.

We must also keep in mind that Chivas CEO Jose Luis Higuera doesn’t have any football experience and is even on record admitting to this. So, it’s scary to think what can happen if the team has a bad season or there is a falling out with Jorge Vergara. In the past the club was able to recover from slip ups because there was staff that cared about the team. People like Jose Luis ‘Guero” Real that Vergara could approach for advice. Now, we just have Mati as the only one that knows futbol and two wildcards in Higuera and Vergara. It’s a ticking time bomb.

 

JJ:  And you didn’t even mention the best part: with all their dysfunction and incompetence, the club still maintains a strong allegiance with their fans. So Chivas rewarded their loyalty by forcing them to pay to watch home games.

 

JA:  Agreed John, even more shameful is Higuera’s claim that because Chivas is fighting a relegation battle that the Club can’t afford to lose money by showing their games for free. It is a weak excuse given how much the club makes on television deals and sponsorships. As it stands the club is in danger of losing money on that front. Their main sponsor BIMBO won’t be renewing their contract after the clauses 2017 season whilst other sponsors will be waiting to see how Chivas TV plays out before signing any deals.

Higuera went on to say ‘the Mexico were everything is free doesn’t exist anymore.’ That really shows the disconnect Higuera, a banker and Americanista, has with the clubs fans the majority of which are poor. When I would visit family in Guadalajara my uncle would joke about his brother in law not feeding his family so he could have enough money to go to the stadium. And there’s some truth to that. Chivas fans haven’t gotten anything for free their support through thick and thin has kept Chivas relevant. Let us remind Higuera that football became popular when the rich lost possession of the sport.

 

JJ:  It sounds like you are prepping the countdown clock for when the Chivas takeover by Carlos Slim becomes a reality. The pieces are starting to come together. Chivas appears to be negotiating almost exclusively with Grupo Pachuca (Of course, the cynic in me says that they are the only ones who are actually producing enough local talent to keep and sell) for players. At what point does Telmex or Sanborns become the shirt sponsor? How quickly will Chivas be airing games on Claro Sports? Those are the logical next steps. Chivas will become a Slim property whether we like it or not. But by the sounds of things, it appears that any option is better than the current reality.

I feel for Chivas fans, but they haven’t had much to cheer for anyway in the liguilla era.  3 League titles in 40 years is a sobering statistic if you are a goat with a penchant for red and white stripes.

 

JA:  That’s a bold statement John. And I agree, it would be an improvement over Vergara whose overall history as club owner has left much to be desired. My one concern with a possible new owner will be on who will be appointed to manage the club. I’ve always been an advocate for allowing former players to remain involved with the institution to which they have dedicated their careers.

That said, this season will be key for Chivas as Higuera’s plan for the club begins to unfold. This Sunday Chivas will have a very important match against Veracruz: Liga MX Copa de Campeones which will earn the winner a spot in CONMEBOL’s Copa Libertadores which can help Chivas TV gain subscriptions. It would also be Almeyda’s trophy as manager.

 

JJ:  I certainly hope things go well for Almeyda, even with all the extra responsibilities.  I hear he is also the new podólogo.  But a 3-game slide could make things very uncomfortable for him. His boss, after all, fired a coach despite the fact the team was 2nd in the table. But like I mentioned earlier, Vergara will be divesting his holdings in Chivas sooner than later, when pen is put to paper on his deivorce decree.  It will be interesting to see when we meet the new boss, will it be same as the old boss.

But I am sure you won’t get fooled again.

 

JA:  Nope.  Hasta la proxima, Jon.

 

JJ:  Keep the dream alive, Joely.

 

Listen to the Dos a Zero Futbol podcast every Wednesday Live at 9ish PM CT.  Download the podcast on itunes. 
Follow John Jagou on Twitter @jjagou
Follow Joel Aceves on Twitter @joelyaceves

 

 

Brandy, Cigars, Gio, Chivas, and Liga MX Semis

It is time for another edition of the gentlemen’s agreement.  In this installment soccerchronicle.com ‘s John Jagou and futmexsource.com ista Joel Aceves hash out the Gio mess, Chivas’ new media leap, and the Liga MX semifinals.

John Jagou:  I was very surprised that Gio did not make Copa America. I am not surprised that FMF bungled the whole thing up. One day these guys will get their stories straight.
Joel Aceves:  I am also surprised Gio was left out not only becaause of well he has been playing with the Galaxy, but also what he means to the national team. Still, there is hope that he gets capped for the Olympics.
 
JJ:  It used to be for years, decades even, that Mexico did not have the depth to omit players of Gio’s quality. Mexico does have quite a bit of depth now, which is why Osorio can live without Gio for now. He has Tecatito and Chucky.  The guy who was expendable was Jurgen Damm.  Damm is fast, talented, but he is no Gio. Not having Gio on the team will now rachet up the pressure on Osorio. If the expectation of making the semifinals is not met, the press will crucify Osorio for this decision.  But they will crucify him for any and all missteps.
JA:  It reminds me of Bora’s second run with the national team in the late 90s. He was criticized for not calling Carlos Hermosillo. Good ol Velibor would then piss off the press by saying he respected their opinions. Knowing FMF there’s a number of reasons why Hermosillo was sidelined and even after Manuel Lapuente replaced Bora, el Grandote de Cerro Azul remained absent from the Tricolor.
With Gio I get the feeling there’s a question of sponsorship behind Osorio’s announcement that the reasons for Gio being left out will remain between them.
 
JJ:  The worst part is how many people believe the coach when Gio said he had declined. Then said it would be unethical for me to talk about the reasons. WTF
 
JA: My take is that FMF has stipulation with TRI sponsors that require Gio to be present in big games-events. And Osorio leaving him out, in my own opinion based on tactical reasons, causes a problem that is easily resolved by claiming the player asked to be left out.
 
JJ:  The worst part of the whole thing was Gio making press junket appearances without his people having any idea that the list was being released in the middle of said appearances. He was live on the radio with Grant Wahl as the list was being released. Grant asked him why did you decline the call? Gio was shell shocked.
 
JA:  I missed that interview. Fellow Deuce podcaster Beto kept referencing it and looking for the clip to no avail. I did see Televisa interviewing Gio at a supermarket whilst he promoted head and shoulders and his replies and body language tell me he really wanted to play the Copa America.
 
JJ:  Gio knows that Tri appearances are what have given him the career he has. It certainly hs not been his club career.  It makes no sense that he would turn it down. SUM and MLS were depending on him to play. It was a big black eye for them both.  Like I said earlier, Mexico might have more depth now, but shutting out a difference maker like Gio is not a good decision.And I do not think it was Gio’s.

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FC Dallas Well Equipped for All Tourneys

FC_Dallas

It was another Jornada Doble for FC Dallas, and as they had done the first time they had a mid-week fixture, they won both games.  6 points put an end to the road losing streak that took hold of Oscar Pareja’s side the week before.

This was a 2-0 win over Seattle Sounders FC.  A team that on paper had a lethal attack.  Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris and Hercules Gomez all started.  Within the first 20 minutes they generated 2 good chances on goal.

And that was that.

Such are the way of things in MLS.  Teams that choose to base their offense down the flanks are at the mercy of the quality of crosses, which are going to be low percentage anyway.  It was puzzling, really, because those three guys had decent interplay among them.  But for most of the 2nd half, Sounders front stood and waited for that cross to come in.  And stood and stood and stood.  No movement, no bounces to give the passer a target.  Just the hope that one cross, any cross might find its way to the foot or head of one of three forwards.

FC Dallas on the other hand, were creating chances by any means necessary.  For most of the night, it was successfully beating the off-side trap, but the through balls were a step to long.  It meant attacking down the flank, or up the middle, or on a breakaway, or a free kick, etc.

“We believe we have one of the most dangerous attacks in the league.” Coach Oscar Pareja said after the 2-0 win.  He is right.  Not because he has the most dangerous players in the league, but because the players can adapt to whatever the defense gives them.  The win over Seattle afforded through balls into space, and FC Dallas got both their goals that way.

FC Dallas crosses like every other team on the planet, but their players look for soft spots, one goes to the near post while another to the back, and one makes himself available for the pass of death.

It makes a low-percentage play a little less so. It is also a testament to their coach, who seemingly prepares his side for anything and everything.  It will be good practice for the differing styles they will face in the three tourneys they have on the schedule.

There is still a long way to go in this 2016 MLS Season, and FC Dallas will have as a full a calendar as anyone in the league this summer with US Open Cup ties followed by the Concachampions group stage.   And FC Dallas has shown to be more of a pushover on the road than Pareja would like.  They will need to resolve that quickly.  But if the first two double match-days are any indication, Pareja and his players have the confidence and the talent to compete in every tournament the team is playing this season.

Listen to the Dos a Zero Futbol podcast every Wednesday night at 9PM CT on youtube.com.  Download on itunes.

Follow me on twitter @jjagou

The Gentlemen Break Down the Liguilla

In the latest edition of the (and freshly rebranded) Gentlemen’s agreement, (nee Weekend at Joely’s) futmexsource.com correspondent Joel Aceves and soccerchronicle.com writer, John Jagou take a look at the 3 big mid-week fixtures, including Pumas’ Libertadores quarterfinal.

 

John Jagou:  I felt bad for Gullit this weekend. He could have increased his hit points and attained legend level status with Chivas fans, but the cross bar said otherwise. And then our friend Oribe scores another huge goal to add to his legend.  It is why Osorio has to take him to Copa America. There is no Mexican player who has come up as big and as consistently as Oribe over the past decade.

 

Joel Aceves:  Gullit has gained a reputation for lacking testicular fortitude.  It is the alleged he lost his starting spot in Mexico’s World Cup squad.  Agreed on Oribe, he even has shown to have the quality to bench Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez! In any case the Horrible One should be a welcome addition to either Olympic or Copa America squad.

 

JJ: I do recall hearing the same thing about Gullit, that he did not deal well when the pressure was ratcheted up, and it cost him in Brazil. You saw some of that when he first played with Chivas, but it seemed like Almeyda had gotten him to calm down and not press. Regardless, the season overall was a good turn of events for Chivas. If they can manage to avoid a slump in the coming Apertura, they can finally, after 3 years, exorcise the relegation fantasma. That should help them play with a lot more confidence. It has been a while since I have said this, but I am bullish on Chivas, provided they find a goal-scorer.

 

JA:  Mexico Boss Juan Carlos Osorio claims that it was his call to Gullit that set the player straight. He is on record saying that he talked to el Lagrimas Esmeraldas and told him to set aside his personal problems and that if he regained his level he would be called up to the national team again.

Next season will be key for Chivas, which have already climbed to 13th place of the relegation chart. Below them are Atlas, Morelia, Puebla, Veracruz, and whichever team gets promoted (either Necaxa or Juarez). As for finding a goal-scorer, Chivas’ best bet will be their Cantera,

 

JJ:  Over to America. As much as it pains you to admit, you have to be really impressed with the job that Ricardo Peláez has done at Club América several years ago. The club was in complete disarray, even flirting with relegation before he took over. Since then, they have become the model club in Liga MX.

In a sense, he has made America hated again. 4 titles with 3 coaches, but with essentially the same base of players. If they manage to win the title this season, it will be even more impressive because they will have defeated 3 of the 5 best teams in the league this season.

 

JA: On the contrary John, I’ve actually been an advocate for Peláez as it was a welcome change in Liga MX. Nestor de la Torre had been doing a similar job at Chivas. Granted not as successful but the team was very consistent:  won the league title, then played two semifinals after that, in addition to a Copa Libertadores final.  It is no coincidence that the club fell apart once he left.

With Peláez, I like that America’s board of directors have given him complete confidence to run the club.   In the past we have seen coaches come into a club like a snake oil salesman, making big promises.  The club would then supply Mr. Snake Oil a brand new roster of players, and when that coach’s fails to meet the high expectations he had set himself,  it’s on to the next quick fixer.

Peláez has shown that long term planning has its merits. He sacked coaches that were not willing to be part of the club’s process. Those were risky moves on his part as was hiring the low profile Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Ambriz but the club’s success has shown that Peláez has been right all along. My hope is for more Liga MX clubs to take this approach as I feel it will lead to a more competitive league.

 

JJ:  I am not so sure your fellow Chivas compatriots would understand or appreciate your healthy respect for Club América’s recent fortune. Some maybe asking to revoke your credentials. But there is something to be said about continuity. And it makes much more of an impact when a club with America’s pedigree succeeds because of it. If Liga MX turns into a copycat league, then, as you stated, the league will become more competitive.

A certain degree of continuity also be used to describe how Pachuca and León have worked themselves into the top echelon of the Liga MX as well. Both of them had good wins to advance to the Liguilla semis, where they will face each other. Pachuca’s kids are fun to watch, but Leon’s Elias Hernandez has been spectacular this season. He deserves a chance to play in Copa America.

 

JA:  No need to revoke my Goat creds.  I’m about to hand them in myself. Chivas CEO (Jose Luis Higuera) and General Manager (Jaime Ordiales) are known Americanistas. And the club owner (Jorge Vergara) is rumored to be an Atlista. His first foray into Liga MX was to sponsor Atlas and then even tried to buy them. I maintain hope that Vergara’s ex wife Angelica Fuentes, who owns 49% of Chivas, will sell her shares to a proper investor that can then buy out Jorge. Cough Slim Cough

While Leon and Pachuca have been on the right path it is America that has taken the spotlight. For the greater good of the league, America’s success in Concachampions, and even at the Club’s World Cup can influence other clubs to take the same approach:  having a set of goals to reach instead of betting on a coach and mid-season transfers to turn things around.  Last season Cruz Azul brought in Eduardo ‘Yayo’ de la Torre as GM, so it will be interesting to see how much freedom he will have to shape the club. As we can see Yayo has bet on continuity with Tomas Boy remaining at the helm. In the past he would of been gone once the final match-day whistle signaled the Maquina’s latest fracaso.

 

JJ:  Pumas did the same with Antonio Sancho. And they also were judicious in their recent acquisitions — most already Liga MX veterans.  They may not be in the liguilla, but their season is not over yet.

And we can also say that this season was one that was not pockmarked by coach firings. In the not so recent past, it was normal to have 6-10 coaches given the boot at midseason. Some teams would have 3 coaches for the 17 games. So maybe this is the new normal in Liga MX.

The king of continuity is Tuca Ferreti.  Tuca has coached Tigres for 6 years, which is incredible for Liga MX. It is unfortunate that the series with Monterrey was marred by bad officiating and then baiting Tuca into one of his classic eruptions. What the press won’t show, though, is Tuca going back and calmly answering questions.

 

JA:  Well then, I guess we can say that the trend is catching on. We can add Toluca to the list who under Jose Saturnino Cardozo played two Liguilla semifinals. And like Pumas dominated the Copa Librtadores group stage. Unfortunately, Toluca had one bad game against a Brazilian giants Sao Paulo.

That said both Pumas and Toluca failed to make the Liguilla, which I blame on the short season which, ironically, has been one of the most influential factors in Liga MX club owners’ erratic behavior in their quest for instant results with the quick fix.

 

JJ:  I don’t mind that Pumas didn’t make the liguilla. I would much rather they focus on the Libertadores anyway, which they can do now without any distractions. A few years ago when Monterrey won their first title under Vucetich, they chose to play the Libertadores with reserves. The reigning champions at the time had an opportunity to measure themselves against SA’s best, and they play with reserves.  Baffling!

Take the shot when you have it because you never know when you’ll get another chance.  Pumas has a legitimate shot at the semis after a 10 year absence in the tournament. It is a busy midweek schedule. Pumas vs Independiente del Valle (ECU) on Tuesday, América-Rayados Wednesday, and Leon-Pachuca Thursday. Who you got?

 

JA:  I’m going with Pumas over Independiente not just because they represent Mexican soccer but because I’d like to believe we have a better league than Ecuador.

In my opinion America-Rayados is the final adelantada and the winner should lift the Liga MX title. I got the sense that Rayados showed some weakness against Tigres in the quarterfinals that America can exploit. So, I will side with the Wilas on this one.

Leon-Pachuca is the Grupo Pachuca Clasico. We’ve all seen what happens when teams owned by the same owner meet: the main club gets favored and in this case it’s the Tuzos.

So, we can be seeing an America vs. Pachuca final: two clubs that have bet on a long term project and continuity. Maybe this is becoming a trend. Latest news is that Vergara offered Matias Almeyda a five year coaching contract.

 

JJ:  I also hope to see Pumas through, but it will be a lot tougher than people expect.  Independiente did just bounce none other than the defending champs, River Plate.  So they are no pushover by any means.

Monterrey’s discipline will make Club America unravel, and Pachuca will prevail over Leon because the last time they played in the liguilla, Leon won.

It’s daddy’s turn.

As always a pleasure, Joel.

 

JA:  Same here.  I am really enjoying these chats.

 

JJ:  As am I.  Hopefully the readers are as well.

 

Catch John and Joel every Wednesday on the Dos A Zero Futbol Podcast live on youtube at 9pm CT, or on itunes.

Follow Joel on twitter @joelyaceves

Follow John on twitter @jjagou

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