The Essence Remains

Eight years is not a particularly long title drought in most circumstances. Many long suffering franchises would scoff a simple eight year winning hiatus. Most circumstances aren't like those at Chivas.

Fifteen seasons without returning to the height of Mexican soccer is tough, but especially tough for Guadalajara. The club has seen their dreaded rival, Club America once again equal their total for the most championships in the professional era. Yet, it's not just the title drought that had sunk Chivas into such a low point. Chivas has more regularly found themselves at the bottom of the table than anywhere near other contenders. They've sunk so low in recent seasons that legitimate concerns over relegation are present.

The much-maligned owner, Jorge Vergara is regularly cited as the major issue with the club. His regime is defined by its shakiness and constant turnover. Managers and sporting directors at Chivas are changed more frequently than most bed sheets. To describe Chivas as utter turmoil would not be an exaggeration. They've been a complete mess. Vergara, more than anyone or anything, rightfully carries much of the blame for this situation.

Luckily, there are now small signs that the team is beginning to climb out of recent depths. Their new summer signings have brought experience and leadership. They've bolstered a midfield that was desperately lacking in quality. They are beginning to play a brand of football which is both positive and encouraging for the future.

The early returns for Carlos Bustos, the 6,00th manager of the Vergara-era, are great. The team gutted out a strong win against Pumas this weekend. While, Chivas is only just beginning this season, there does appear to be a clear shift in the squad. The mental make-up was evidenced this weekend when they were forced to play with ten men for the final ten minutes of the match. Prior Chivas squads would have wilted and conceded a goal under such pressure. This team stuck it out and found their own winner.

It's of course ludicrous to read too much into one good win early in the season. However, it's clear that relegation will not be a real concern for this team. Chivas are indeed on the rise. Whether it is a rise that simply regains respectabulity or something even higher has yet to be determined.

One of those veteran additions this summer was the former youth product of the club, Carlos Salcido. After eight years away from Chivas, including time in the Dutch Eredivisie and English Premier League, Salcido returns to a different team.

Ahead of their friendly with Bayern Munich, Salcido spoke to this, "It's changed a lot. After I left [the team] wasn't going through the greatest time."  He continued on the changes, "Now, there are a lot of young people. Bustos is clear on what he wants to do and achieve in the field. We tried to understand it as soon as possible and perform. It's a process. We're all on the same page."

The Chivas squads that Salcido knew previously were stacked with national team players and experience throughout the roster. While youth has always been used with the team, it was always bolstered with experience and quality.

This is seemingly reemerging with the team. The newly-acquired veterans of this summer in addition to those of the past calendar year have made for a roster with stability throughout. Chivas is no longer relying on youth to come through in big spots. Now they are using youth for a spark and for added depth. This is a more complete roster and it is showing early.

Salcido went on to stress, "The team has remained important. Many things have changed, but the essence remains the same."

No matter the difficulties the team has faced in recent years, they are still Chivas.  They still remain a fixture of Mexican football and remain important in the culture. This could be the beginning of a return to a winning culture as well. Then again, everyone could be out of a job next week. 

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