Cruz Azul squanders momentum, stunned by last-place Mazatlán FC

Cruz Azul defender Juan Escobar of Cruz Azul reacts after the Cementeros lost to last-place Mazatlán FC on Friday. (Photo by Sergio Mejia/Getty Images)
Cruz Azul defender Juan Escobar of Cruz Azul reacts after the Cementeros lost to last-place Mazatlán FC on Friday. (Photo by Sergio Mejia/Getty Images) /
Cruz Azul stumbles Mazatlan
Cruz Azul coach Ricardo Ferretti could not have liked what he saw in Mazatlán as his Cementeros team lost to the last-place Cañoneros Friday night. (Photo by Sergio Mejia/Getty Images) /

Parents of school-age kids living anywhere near the La Noria training grounds in southern Mexico City might want to avoid passing anywhere within earshot next week.

Cruz Azul absolutely laid an egg against last-place Mazatlán FC Friday night and new Cementeros coach Ricardo Ferretti will likely go ballistic during practice.

And when “Tuca” goes ballistic, you can expect some very colorful language. Just ask any Tigres player of the past decade.

“La Máquina Azul” started out in fine form against the Cañoneros but right around the 20-minute mark, the Boys in Blue seemed to forget how to play. Passing was atrocious, spacing and movement was erratic and the team seemingly checked out.

Cruz Azul squanders momentum

The Cementeros had just climbed out of the Liga MX basement, rising from 17th place to 11th thanks to a 3-game win streak that coincided with the departure of coach Raúl Gutiérrez.

The club won two straight under interim coach Joaquín Moreno and claimed a win in Tuca’s first game in charge last weekend. Some pundits were projecting a steady upward trajectory for Cruz Azul, but in so doing, they forgot one thing. The Cementeros were hovering near the bottom of the table for a reason, and that reason was not coach Gutiérrez.

Cruz Azul has very little special talent up front and there are few clever passers on the roster. The front office has done a lousy job the past few seasons and the locker room features too many graybeards who are past their expiration date.

Most likely, Tuca knew this season would be more of a rebuild than a title chase but his predilection for veteran players will not likely pay off with the current Cruz Azul roster.

Three of Tuca’s four defenders against Mazatlán are in their 30s and his first substitute last night was 33-year-old Rafa Baca, a midfielder whose skills have eroded noticeably since Cruz Azul won the Liga MX title nearly two years ago.

Cementeros concede three goals on set pieces

Cruz Azul led 1-0 in Mazatlán as half-time approached when Ignacio Rivero turned the ball over in his own end. The hosts traded the gift for a corner kick, which led to a second corner kick, which found the head of Néstor Vidrio for the equalizer.

Two more corner kicks in the first 12 minutes of the second half were also converted into goals and Mazatlán FC led 3-1. And that, effectively, ended the game because Cruz Azul had no answers and it’s not even clear they knew the questions.

Despite the win, the Cañoneros remain in last place while Cruz Azul might drop a spot or too. The bigger concern for the Cementeros (besides the tongue-lashing they’ll receive at the training ground) is how they respond going forward.

“La Máquina” has three winnable games this month (UNAM, Atlético de San Luis and Querétaro), but their stretch-run schedule includes defending champs Pachuca, bitter rivals América and fourth-place Guadalajara as well as playoff hopefuls León and Santos Laguna.

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We know Tuca has already submitted at least one request for the summer transfer window and they way the Cementeros played Friday night, quite a few players might be playing for a roster spot the rest of the way.