Cash-strapped Chivas struggle to strengthen roster

Guadalajara GM Ricardo Peláez (left) is trying to convince Chivas owner Amaury Vergara (right) that the team is on the right path. (Photo by Jam Media/Getty Images)
Guadalajara GM Ricardo Peláez (left) is trying to convince Chivas owner Amaury Vergara (right) that the team is on the right path. (Photo by Jam Media/Getty Images) /
Chivas - transfer window
Cruz Azul’s Roberto Alvarado is on the verge of joining the Chivas who are desperate to become a legit title contender again.(Photo by Alfredo Moya/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Guadalajara has been cited frequently in the early weeks of the Liga MX Hot Stove League, but the Chivas have had little to report.

First there was the much-ballyhooed Sebastián Córdova-for-Uriel Antuna trade which would have provided “El Rebaño Sagrado” with a young midfield playmaker even if Córdova had struggled at América this past season. The Olympic bronze medalist played for coach Marcelo Michel Leaño at Necaxa. That deal fell apart and Córdova is now wearing Tigres stripes.

Then there were hints that Guadalajara might try to bring Rodolfo Pizarro back on board. Pizarro helped the Chivas win their most recent Liga MX title (Clausura 2017) and he has been laboring in MLS the past two years. He last wore a Chivas jersey in May 2018.

The current hot take is that Guadalajara will send winger Antuna (also a bronze medalist) and left back Alejandro Mayorga to Cruz Azul for another member of El Tri Olímpico, Roberto Alvarado. This transaction actually appears to have legs but for some contractual details over which the respective agents are haggling.

Chivas feeling financial pinch

When Ricardo Peláez took over as GM in January 2020, he promised a return to glory and he spent freely in trying to make it happen right away. The pandemic struck just a few months later and the Chivas’ financial troubles deepened.

The ongoing fiscal turmoil has made it virtually impossible to buy new reinforcements, forcing the club to rely on trades and loan deals, with little success. And it might get worse! Guadalajara is in a dispute with former star Alan Pulido who is demanding a percentage of the transfer fee paid by Sporting Kansas City when the MLS club acquired him in December 2019. The dispute is being heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport and if Pulido wins (a distinct possibility), the Chivas might have to cough up $2 million dollars.

Chasing elusive 13th Liga MX crown

Desperate to reclaim its birthright as a genuine title contender, the Chivas have been talking with anyone who will listen. Unfortunately, without the cash to make serious offers, they are not finding many clubs interested in a sit-down.

Recent reports suggest coach Michel scolded the front office for allowing the Córdova deal to fall through. This seems rather petulant and superficial. Since the coach came from inside the organization (he was the club’s academy director), he knows the financial difficulties that management is dealing with. By throwing his fit (“You’ve got to close deals faster!”… “Córdova was going to be a key cog”), Michel seems to be preparing an alibi for failure as he gets set to begin his first full season as coach of the Chivas.

This week, we’ve learned that Peláez is taking a run at winger Juergen Damm, asking Atlanta United about his availability. Pizarro was a pipe dream. The Chivas were never going to have the money to entice the elusive playmaker back into the fold.

Damm, however, would slot into Antuna’s spot on the wing if Guadalajara manages to finalize its trade for Alvarado. The 29-year-old Damm – a speedy Pachuca academy product who left Liga MX for MLS in July 2020 – never reached his potential in Liga MX, though he won four league titles with the Tigres from 2015-2019. Damm is scoreless with Atlanta (in 24 games) and hopes that a return to Liga MX would give him more playing time. Although Atlanta is open to negotiations, they might not drop the asking price for the bench-warming Damm.

With Damm’s speed on one wing and the pass-happy “El Piojo” on the other, the Chivas could pose a threat to Liga MX defenses … if they find a productive striker. Alvarado was a key contributor to Cruz Azul’s Guardianes 2021 title run, but he is not a goal-scorer (7 goals in 42 games last season).

Other Chivas moves

Guadalajara sent back-up goalie José Antonio Rodríguez and third-choice striker Jesús Godínez to Querétaro. “Toño” lost the starting job to Raúl Gudiño last season and is now considered surplus since the Chivas have a promising stable of keepers in its academy. It is not clear yet if the transaction was a loan or a sale.

Godínez has been sent to the Gallos on a loan deal, his second such farm-out following his one-year stay in León. The lanky 24-year-old scored 1 goal in 8 appearances for Guadalajara last season.

In other moves, winger Walter Gael Sandoval was loaned out to Wellington Phoenix, a New Zealand-based club that plays in Australia’s A-League, and defender Alexis Peña returns after his loan deal to Cruz Azul expired.

dark. Next. Tigres acquire Córdova from América

Coming in the other direction, the Chivas acquired forward Paolo Yrizar but registered him with their Liga MX Expansión club Atlético Tapatío. Yrizar, 24, scored 6 goals in 15 games with Dorados de Sinaloa in Mexico’s second division.