Ol’ Ugly is Better than Ol’ Nothing

Full disclosure:  The title is not one of mine.  I wish.  No that belongs to Darrel Royal, Texas coaching legend, and a man with a long list of quotables.  Pumas coach Memo Vasquez would also be happy with the title. But he did not take to heart with one of Darrel’s most famous axioms:

you dance with who brung you

You can understand his motives to playing with 3 holding midfielders vs America in their second leg of the Liga MX semis.  3 away goal advantage, the stiffest defense in Liga MX.  They had the chops to bend and not break for 90 minutes.  So why did they break after 20 minutes and 2 goals from Darwin “the Goal Scientist” Quintero?

There was plenty of disconnect.  And Complacency?  Oh yeah?  Add to that a Club America team that was hellbent on scoring the 4 goals they needed to advance, and it was very nearly a historic, calamitous, unforgivable collapse.

Luckily for Pumas, Memo Vasquez moved quickly to start dancing with who brung him to this point, and the team settled down enough to squeak through to the final.  It wasn’t the prettiest way to go through.  Their performance was awful, actually. The worst they played all season.  But in the end, the result is what mattered.

But not in Mexico.

In a league where style and spectacle is almost as (and in some cases more) important as the result, Pumas committed a mortal sin:  they played to defend a result, not to look for one.  The post game presser was a somber affair where the underlying tone was one of defeat, not making their 13th final since being promoted in the early 60’s.  As coach Royal said

I learned this about coaching: You don’t have to explain victory and you can’t explain defeat.

The reporters were baffled as to why Pumas betrayed the 3G philosophy that all teams, championship or otherwise, are apparently obligated to adhere to in Mexico:  ganar, gustar, y golear.

Did Pumas play badly?  Of course they did.  But their 3-goal lead gave them the luxury of rolling out a real stinker and still eliminating their cross-town rivals.  In other words they had their worst performance of the season, and in the end the result was what mattered.

Ep. 12: Los Cachirules podcast – We talk Pumas vs America and more

Dos a Zero podcast

A Dos a Zero podcast

This was an exciting episode, because we decided to start it right after the Pumas vs America game and while the Tigres vs Toluca game was going on.

You all know how the Pumas vs America game went, so you can imagine certain panelist’s jimmies were most definitely rustled. He had his say and may have spurred a blog post from fellow panelist which you can read here.

My take is, the ref made a mistake by calling the early Pumas goal off. Britos was not offsides and Veron converging in, did not interfere with Moises and was not involved in the play. The call may have been that Britos was offside, and in that case it was wrong. The call could have also been that Veron was interferred, but he was not between Moises and the ball. The ball went so quickly past Moises and Veron that none of them could have done anything to change its trajectory. Clearly a bad call.

No matter, you have to fight through bad calls. It was expected for America to be on attack and to have posession. This an elimination tournament and not a regular season game like had been previously played a couple weeks earlier. It was intense. Memories of Goltz and other Americanistas proving to be hot heads came back. It was a heated and physical game. One stat is that America is the team with the most bookings(red/yellow cards). No change here.

Another stat, in the entire game America had 1 shot on frame. The UNAM defense was strong. I recall seeing cross after cross get headed by a Universitario. First touch and defensive posture was strong with UNAM. Some may say that America possessed and attacked, but didn’t put Pikolin in real danger.

Then came the Red cards. As a result open space for the speedsters, Fidel, Sosa and Britos. Even Lalo Herrera came up big with a very nice Cabezazo!

 

Anyways, we also talked the Neymar showboating issue we have been arguing about. The Real Pundits that claim they would have done the same as Isco and fouled Neymar for acting a fool. I’ll let you have a listen for our differing takes.

We also had some play by play on the Tigres vs Toluca game. All in all a great night for Futbol and good discussion.

The Loser’s Lifeline

The ref hadn’t even taken the whistle out of his mouth before the whining and complaining started.  It was the usual sentiment:  “Robo!”  “Regalo!”  “Jugaron con 12.” Veracruz fans were furious and and steadfast in their belief that the referee had robbed them of their chance to advance past Pumas in the Liga MX playoffs.

Never mind the fact that Veracruz failed to capitalize on numerous chances in the home leg, or that their cries for offside on Pumas’ early goal in the way leg were unfounded, as were their desperate pleas for a decision on a penalty for a handball that would never be called even by the worst ref on the planet. Even the Shark’s front office this week demanded an investigation to root out the obvious favoritism demonstrated by Roberto Garcia Orozco.  Please.

It is an all too common occurrence.  Fans of a losing side,  instead of coming to terms with their team’s shortcomings, point fingers at the man in black.  The perennial scapegoat.

That is not to say that ref’s don’t make mistakes that affect the outcome of a game.  Of course they do.  But it is a huge part of the game. And to the Red Sharks’ credit, they certainly didn’t seem to let it affect their play.  They did their level best to tilt the game in their favor.

But for a large swath of fans, that is meaningless.  The ref’s dubious decisions are the ONLY reason their side lost.  As if whatever happened before or after that blind idiot blew his whistle had no influence on the game.  They cling to it — the loser’s lifeline.

Even after America was embarrassed at home by the same Pumas, 3-0, some fans latched on to the loser’s lifeline to blame the ref.  The players lost their mind, the coach didn’t make the necessary adjustments after 2 red cards, but it was the ref’s fault.  Ain’t it always?

How is that working out for you, losers?

Ep. 11: Los Cachirules podcast – Liguilla talk as well as results vs. performance debate

Los Cachirules

After a short break for Thanksgiving, the crew got back together to talk the ongoing Liguilla tournament. Chivas is of course NOT in the Liguilla so some of the guys were getting ragged on about the possibility of America winning another Trophy as well as even Toluca winning their 11th and reaching the same number of titles as Chivas has.

Pumas is also in the mix and some predict an upset in the making vs an apparently better team in Las Wilas from America.

Tigres seems to be the big favorite, with their goal scorer Gignac leading the way. Even if his last Golazo via Chilena was actually kicked off his shin. Pure luck maybe?

The discussuion was also swayed to the question of what is more important having a good performance or getting the result.

Have a listen on iTunes or link below.

We plan on having another show on Thursday evening during the Tigres vs Toluca Liguilla Semifinal. Maybe do some play by play and in game analysis.

The Almeyda Effect: Chivas Relegation Placebo

maa

Almeyda effect: Also called the Higuera response. A remarkable phenomenon in which a foreign manager — with no knowledge of the Mexican league or it’s players — can sometimes improve a club’s condition simply because the person has the expectation that it will be helpful. Expectation plays a potent role in the Almeyda effect. The more a person believes they are going to benefit from a treatment, the more likely it is that they will experience a benefit.

Club Guadalajara’s 2015 Apertura season ended the same way as the previous with a three-nil defeat at home against Santos. Except last season Chivas match against Santos was in the Liga MX semifinals and the ‘Green-and-Whites’ went on to win the Clausura 2015 Championship.

This time around Santos was a shadow of their former selves winning only four games and failing to qualify to the league playoffs by finishing in 15th place of the table. Santos even reached the Omnilife stadium with manager Pako Ayestaran having presented his resignation claiming the clubs dismal season was his fault and only managing the game as a formality.

For Guadalajara losing against Santos was a harsh reminder of the club’s relegation problems. A few weeks earlier Chivas had managed to win the Copa MX, the club’s first championship in nine years, with manager Matias Almeyda proclaiming that “a giant has awakened.” Chivas, however, turned out to be a paper giant failing to qualify to the league playoffs while stringing along a poor run of results.

The arrival of Almeyda was at the behest of Chivas General Director Jose Luis Higuera who had become disillusioned with Jose ‘Chepo’ de la Torre’s management of the team. “Being last place of the table with 7 points, be it Chivas or whomever, it is not sane to be in last place. Having a relegation problem just makes things more difficult,” said Higuera of his decision to replace De la Torre.

Almeyda’s whirlwind arrival, winning five straight league and cup games, made him a fan favorite. The golden haired Argentine appeared to be the best thing to happen to the club since dutch legend Johan Cruyff was hired with the illusion of turning Chivas into the next F.C. Barcelona. After seven months Vergara scraped the Cruyff project and any ideas of assimilating the Catalan giants.

“In Mexico there are two seasons in one (Apertura/Clausura) and in the past 22 seasons I believe they have only won once. So, we can’t talk about a winning tradition we can only say that the people that manage the club are not doing a good job and that is shameful,” Cruyff said after his departure from Guadalajara. “We are sad for the people of Chivas because they have a base in which they can achieve many beautiful things.”

Having missed out on the Liga MX playoffs Almeyda now finds himself in a similar predicament. The expectation and excitement created by Almeyda’s early success and cup win have dissipated with the clubs dismal form which should be worrisome. In Chivas last six games of the season the team only managed to win once, 1-0 against crosstown rivals Atlas, with three defeats and two draws.

While Almeyda’s ‘attacking philosophy’ proved good enough to win the Cup tourney, which most club’s take with stride, it has proven to be a disaster in league play. Being outscored at home by club’s that had a worse season has even made Almeyda question his players commitment. “It is difficult (to know what the players are thinking) because I can’t get inside their heads but their attitude was not the correct one,” a frustrated Almeyda told reporters after the Santos defeat.

Still, the Argentine remains hopeful that he can reinforce the squad during the winter transfer window. “It will be very difficult to bring in many players because they require a quick adaptation and not everyone can adapt to a new system of play.”

“Chivas fights against an economic powerhouse of players costing the club three times more. We are conscious of that and will not just look for name players but those we have observed that can reinforce the squad. At the very least we need three or four players, one for each position,” finalized Almeyda.

Next season will be brutal for Almeyda, as Chivas will be facing another uphill relegation battle, and more than reinforcements the Argentine will need the support and confidence from the club’s volatile owner and meddling director to be allowed to properly manage the team. Other than that he will most likely be sacked by match week 5 just in time for a new savior coach to be appointed.

Next season will be brutal for Almeyda, as Chivas will be facing another uphill relegation battle, and more than reinforcements the Argentine will need the support and confidence from the club’s volatile owner and meddling director to be allowed to properly manage the team. Other than that he will most likely be sacked by match week 5 just in time for a new placebo coach to be appointed.

 

VIA – http://www.futmexsource.com/

 

 

Chivas wins Clasico Tapatio

Almeyda and Marco Fabian

Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. — Chivas Guadalajara wins 1-0 to take home derby bragging rights against crosstown rivals Atlas FC.

The loan goal came from the boot of Chivas, off a well-taken freekick, of Marco Fabian.

The match 14 derby was originally scheduled for Oct 24, was postponed due to Hurricane Patricia.

Pumas Secures Top Seed, Libertadores Berth

It is not that they came out of nowhere, or that they weren’t on anyone’s radar. Frankly, anyone who tries to make pre-season predictions on the outcome of Liga MX should probably have their head examined. The only sure thing in Luga MX is that there are no sure things.

But, there they are, the team no one saw coming, taking the top spot in Liga MX with a game in hand. Pumas will be the top seed in the Liga MX playoffs. A curse more than a blessing really, as Alberto “Chiquis” Campa noted earlier.  The bigger prize, though, is a ticket to Copa Libertadores. A tournament where Pumas has not distinguished themselves at all. And now they get another shot.

How did Pumas, a club that had spent 4 years in the wilderness, manage to turn it around? It is simple really. Continuity. Pumas only dabbles in the transfer market, and the players they do cherry pick tend to stick around. This is not a team that reshuffles its roster every six months. The one time the did try it recently, under Alberto Garcia Aspe (another prodigal son), it failed miserably and is the main reason Pumas nearly slipped into the abyss.  It also didn’t hurt that they brought back two lifetime Pumas to run the squad: Memo Vazquez, former Pumas player and last title-winning coach, was brought back after his inexplicable exit. Antonio Sancho is in the front office.

This year, they only collected 3 new players before the season. Two of them have had a major impact. Fidel Martinez, el Neymar Ecuatoriano has solidified an attack that has scored the most goals since C2011, which conincidentally, was the last time Pumas won a title. The other is Alekandro Castro. The former Cruz Azul holding midfielder has had an exceptional campaign which even warranted a call-up for the upcoming qualifiers.

The Mexico City side started slow, which was a problem: a few more losses and they would have slipped into the relegation fight. Instead, a 6-game winning streak catapulted them away from the drop zone and to the top of the table. They haven’t looked back. No team has scored more and only one team has given up fewer — Tigres (coached by another Pumas disciple, Tuca Ferretti).

But there is that whole top seed curse thing. It is very real. In the last 10 years, more top seeds have fallen in the first round than have won the title by a 2.5:1 ratio. Only 4 have won the title outright. If Pumas crash out early, so be it. But they have only partiacpted in the Copa Libertadores twice, and only got as far as the round of 16 in 2003. That should be the focus in 2016. Do they have a roster that can compete in the two tournaments? Tough to say. They play well together and have decent depth, but they need some youth players to step up. Which should never be a problem at Pumas.

So for the first time in 24 years, Pumas will enter the post-season as the top seed. What happened the last time they were the #1 seed?  Funny you should ask…

Is the curse of Super Lider, legit or rubbish?

Veracruz Super LiderIf you are familiar with the Mexican League and the Liguilla/Playoff, then you know of the “Super Lider curse”. Being at the top of the General Table usually is a good thing. In La Liga, it means you are the champion. Not in the Mexican League. It just means now you have to go into the playoff and win the Championship in a series of home/away games.

The curse is that throughout history it is percieved that the team at the top of the table (aka #1 seed) always fails to win the Cup via playoff and bows out early in quarterfinals or Semis.

So I went back 10 years to get a look at how legit this is. I know as far as my memory goes, the teams that I recall being Super Lider always would fail in the playoffs. My first memories were back when Cuautemoc led lowly Veracruz to an excellent season, only to bow out early in playoffs. This year, Pumas is at the top and being a fan of UNAM I want them to do great. However, I have seen this curse take effect and bring teams down. Or have I?

Going to the cold hard stats, lets look at the past 10 years. In 21 seasons (Apertura/Clausura) the Super Lider has won the Cup 4 times. That is a 19% success rate, not very good, but surprising. I was thinking it would be more like 0%. Maybe some exageration on my part regarding this so called curse? Not even very far back, America beat Tigres to win the Championship in Apertura 2014. Further back in Clausura 2012, Santos did it vs Monterrey. Then we have a gap until we get to Clausura 2007 where Pachuca beats America to win it all. Then just a year passes and we have Pachuca beating San Luis in Clausura 2006.

So as you can see, it can be done, and it has been done. Pumas is now the determined Super Lider in this Apertura 2015 playoffs, so we will see if it can be done again. Can a #1 seeded team take on playoffs and win the Tournament?

On a side note, should the playoffs even exist? Should Mexico go the way of La Liga and crown the team that ends season at the top of the table? We’ll save that topic for another post.  😀

 

Here are the stats I looked up on the Super Lider from each season:

Clausura 2015 – Tigres lose to Santos in Quarterfinals.
Apertura 2014 – America beats Tigres, is Champion.
Clausura 2014 – Cruz Azul loses to Leon in Quarterfinals.
Apertura 2013 – Amercia, loses to Leon in Final.
Clausura 2013 – Tigres lose to Monterrey in Quarterfinals.
Apertura 2012 – Toluca loses to Tijuana in Final.
Clausura 2012 – Santos beat Monterrey in Final.
Apertura 2011 – Chivas lose to Queretaro in Quarterfinals.
Clausura 2011 – Tigres lose to Chivas in Quarterfinals.
Apertura 2010 – Cruz Azul lose to Pumas in Quarterfinals.
Clausura 2010 – Monterrey lose to Pachuca in Quarterfinals.
Apertura 2009 – Toluca lose to Monterrey in Semis.
Clausura 2009 – Pachuca lose to Pumas in Final.
Apertura 2008 – San Luis lose to Santos in Quarterfinals.
Clausura 2008 – Chivas lose to Monterrey.
Apertura 2007 – Santos lose to Pumas in Semis.
Clausura 2007 – Pachuca beats America in Final.
Apertura 2006 – Cruz Azul lose to Chivas in Quarterfinals.
Clausura 2006 – Pachuca beat San Lus in Final.
Apertura 2005 – America lose to Tigres in Quarterfinals.
Clausura 2005 – Morelia loses to Estudiantes in Semis.

Chivas Win Validates Copa MX

 

chivas champs

Funny how things work out.  A few years ago when the creation of Copa MX was announced (in conjunction with a newly rebranded Liga MX), the new tournament was met with a steady stream of cynicism and criticism.  It’s structure was a joke, we were told.  Too many games, a point structure that was difficult to understand, and no one –  no one would care.  No one did care for the first couple of years.  Can you name the winners of the first editions of Copa MX?

Exactly. I can’t either.

It was going to take a team with a certain amount of cache to put Copa MX on the map.  Sure, Cruz Azul won the thing a while back, but the tournament was still in the who cares stage.  Last night, before a sellout crowd in Leon, Copa MX became a tournament worth caring about.  Don’t believe me? Ask the Chivas fans who celebrated at the Minerva monument last night in Guadalajara. After all, it had been 9 years – 9 YEARS – since Chivas had held any kind of hardware.

chivas minervaBut it wasn’t just the fans in Leon or the ones who celebrated in Guadalajara afterwards.  It was also the players and coaches.  Both sides played to win, had several chances to do so, and in the process rewarded everyone with an end-to-end tilt that was in stark contrast to the usual puckered, defensive-minded borefests that permeate most finals.

There will be those who will minimize the final; can’t be a cynic otherwise, right?  And, yes, the Copa MX could use some tinkering to streamline it to enhance the play on the field.  But it is not going anywhere for now, so you might as well buck up and play it.  Give your reserves some time on the track. Let your slumping stars work their way out of it.  You might just right yourselves and win something along the way.

If I were FMF King for a day, I would keep Copa MX for the Apertura, but I would go a different direction for the Clausura: north.  I would add MLS and USL for a 78-team straight knockout to the final.  50 teams get a 1st round bye. And then a 64-team blind draw to the final. Whether folks from both sides care to admit it or not, both leagues need each other.  This would be a great way to get them involved.

Chivas and their fans can enjoy their win for about 24 hours.  Then they will be reminded of their reality with a visit to Culiacan for a key 6-point battle with one of their drop-zone mates.  But they can do so knowing they have finally added something more than dust to their trophy case.

Mexican Circus: Piojo Herrera, Carlos Albert and TV Azteca clowns.

In Mexico, there is a popular aspect of TV that is called “Novelas”. This popularity is does not just occur in Mexico because there are Soap Operas in the US and this thing called reality TV. Fact is drama sells.

So lets look at this Piojo drama that occured over the summer and prior.

  1. Piojo is meme/internet famous for excitited goal celebrations.
  2. Piojo gets National Team job and has a good World Cup.
  3. Piojo tweets politics and gets criticized.
  4. Piojo’s daughter gains fame by not blocking out the haters, but responding to them.
  5. Piojo’s Mexico, fails to impress in controversial Gold Cup.
  6. TV Azteca, specifically Martinolli goes on a tirade against Piojo.
  7. Piojo gets upset and bullys/beats up Martinolli in the airport.
  8. Piojo is hated and press mount against him. He is then fired from the NT.

Piojo was awesome with the America and then the NT, he was entertaining. Animated gifs were made of his hilarity. It’s true he didn’t do so well in the Gold Cup, however, lets analyze one of his greatest critics, TV Azteca. We all remember Martinoli when he had a childish fit, when Mexico was failing during WC qualifiers. Saying the likes of “We love you forever, and ever” and “God bless America” as the US scored 2 goals vs Panama, then going on to insult Mexico calling them “petardos” and that they couldn’t qualify on their own merits.

Now if the events that happened on the field weren’t dramatic enough, the hooting and hollering in the background along with the tirade by Martinoli definitely was. US fans loved it, and it blew up. US fans as well as Mexicans, honored Graham Suzi for scoring the 2nd goal. Martinoli went on to say, The US has past us in Soccer and is better“.

If you ever watch a broadcast with TV Azteca in Mexico you can see how entertaining it really is. In the Pregame of the Mexico vs Trinidad y Tobago game, they showcased Nicki Minaj since she is from T&T, then proceeded to make jokes and innuendo. You would get the same type of jokes during the game. The kind of jokes that you probably won’t hear in the US. Campos is a pretty big part of this circus as well. You may find him on the field reporting, but as you can see, chanclas are the professional attire.

One instance in the broadcast, Martinoli and Luis Garcia were discussing the game at halftime, while Campos was in the middle without a mic, leaning/sitting on a table behind him. Just relaxing while Martinoli and Garcia would talk. When Campos wanted to get a word in, he would just speak and wait for Martinoli to get the mic closer to him.

The point is, Piojo may be a bully, and physically attacking Martinoli is of course unacceptable, but the TV Azteca crew is a joke. Martinoli is a joke. Campos is a clown. All this is great though, it is funny, good TV, and probably gets high ratings. But you can see why Piojo would be perturbed. Then when the incident happens in the airport with Martinoli, the entire press pounces on Piojo. Sure it is justified, but just once I would like to see the Circus at TV Azteca be called out for their foolishness. Although when I think about it, I am not sure I would necessarily want them to change. After all the Circus is the Greatest Show on Earth!

Now as of today, Carlos Albert, who we all know from Futbol Picante. Or atleast used to know, as he was “dramatically” removed from the show. He recently published an article at Milenio insulting Piojo once again. Check out the article here. Albert goes on to call Piojo “injured”, “salty” and still licking his wounds. Albert states that Piojo asked Xolos management to tell TV Azteca to not allow Martinoli on broadcasts involving Xolos. He also states that he sent text stating that he did not want any involvement with Carlos Albert as press. This of course is what spurred Albert to write the article and set his targets back on Piojo. Albert calls him “corriente” and “Miguelito” as his article’s main purpose is to demean Piojo and show what a little man he is.

So what we have here is a good old Novela. Where Piojo and Martinoli have beef, then Carlos Albert comes in to insult as he normally does on twitter and other avenues. Piojo then has beef with Albert and the circle of drama goes round and round. Good entertainment no?

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