SEATTLE — Things have not been going particularly well for C.D. Guadalajara this year, as they find themselves near the bottom of the Liga MX table. They also find themselves toward the tail-end of a seven-week stretch in which they are playing twice a week.
To make matters worse, they arrived in Seattle around midnight on Tuesday after several hours of flight delays. Argentine coach Matias Almeyda did not hesitate to share his frustration during Tuesday’s press conference.
“The truth is that the trip was…it was a long trip, very long,” he said. “It overextended quite a bit in time, we had to get down to refuel, we were there two hours and in total we ended up traveling 8-9 hours [ed. note: it normally takes about five]. It was truly tough and let’s just say we spoke to the players yesterday and asked them to in some way get rest so they could try to get to the game in their best form as we are coming from other trips, other games and thin rosters, and the first thing we need is to be rested for what we are about to face.”
Taking into consideration the short turnaround between games and the natural wear from the travel, Guadalajara is expected to make several changes to the starting lineup that played against Club America. There are a few players who are almost guaranteed to play, though: the quick and nifty Isaac ‘Conejito’ Brizuela, who only played 25 minutes, should start in the 1st leg, along with Carlos Cisneros, who can play several positions but is likely to replace Jesus Sanchez at right back.
Cisneros was at the press conference and talked about getting his confidence as well as his game rhythm back, as he has been inconsistent since returning from a left tibia injury sustained last season.
“The [CCL] game I played versus Cibao was very important,” he said. “I think I’m conscious that perhaps I am not in top form, but because of that I work hard every day to recover and get things right.”
Cisneros entered Chivas’ last game in the 83rd minute and therefore is expected to play, since he is one of the most rested players and can be a key player in the back line, not only as a defender but getting forward from the flanks.
The rest of the lineup is hard to decipher. C.D Guadalajara would like to get a good result in Seattle, but Almeyda sounded as if he was willing to test the depth of his roster.
“Although we have a shorter roster, I’ve been alternating and they’re all participating in important games because for me the group is fundamental and they are all at a similar level,” Almeyda said. “Therefore we will face [Wednesday’s] game with those who I feel are in better form for this game, obviously beyond names or their trajectory. Here we play as a team and we can’t give this cup up. The cup doesn’t allow us to relax or make mistakes so we will put the best available for [Wednesday].”
The overall feel from the press conference was that ‘El Pelado’ Almeyda was concerned about the circumstances; more than once he talked about his team not having enough time to practice, sleep, or recover, and how Chivas is not used to playing on turf. Like every other person in such a situation, he mentioned that it was not excuse, but did go out of his way to highlight them, leading me to believe that in one way or another, he is preparing the ground for a possible fall.
Sounders: Frei; Nouhou, Marshall, Torres, McCrary; Svensson, Roldan; Lodeiro, Dempsey, Wolff; Bruin.
Chivas: Cota; C. Cisneros, Basulto, Alanis, Mayorga; Brizuela, Pineda, Perez, Sandoval; Macias, R. Cisneros.