For Cruz Azul fans, it’s 22 years and counting

Roberto Siboldi took over a struggling Cruz Azul team midway through the Apertura 2019, but failed to turn around the team's fortunes. (Photo by Carlos Ramirez/Getty Images)
Roberto Siboldi took over a struggling Cruz Azul team midway through the Apertura 2019, but failed to turn around the team's fortunes. (Photo by Carlos Ramirez/Getty Images) /
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Cruz Azul look-ahead
A familiar scene during the Apertura 2019: Cruz Azul players trudging off after a loss. (Photo by Armando Marin/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Cruz Azul prepares to shake up its roster

There is a lot to fix here but only a little over a month until the Clausura 2020 kicks off. Coach Siboldi has already submitted a wish list, but much of what needs to be done will have to be complemented by selling unwanted pieces. Not an easy task.

Carlos López was recently presented as the new general manager, but it’s clear that the Alvarez brothers (team president Billy and vice president Alfredo) and Víctor Garcés will be making the decisions. Their lack of success since the late 90s is the reason Peláez was brought in, though he did not live up to his reputation.

Peláez headed up the summer spending spree and spent freely in earlier transfer windows. Now many of those players are being shown the door. Not expected to be with the team in January are forwards Martín Cauteruccio and Edgar Méndez, midfielder Stephen Eustaquio and right back José Madueña. Ironically, Peláez is set to take Madueña off the Cementeros’ hands and bring him to Guadalajara.

Cruz Azul look-ahead
Skipper Jesús Corona had a sub-standard season in goal for Cruz Azul. (Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

Cruz Azul needs scoring punch up front and help in midfield. It’s also time to find a replacement for soon-to-be 39-year-old goalie Jesús Corona. One target for the latter job is former Querétaro goalie Tiago Volpi.

The Brazilian keeper starred for the Gallos Blancos for four years, leading the club to the Clausura 2015 Liga MX Final (losing to Santos), while winning the Apertura 2016 Copa MX and the 2017 SuperCopa MX. Volpi played this year with Sao Paulo back home in Brazil but he would be an ideal successor to Corona.

Elsewhere Siboldi seems inclined to recreate his success at Santos Laguna (where he won the Clausura 2018 Liga MX title) by acquiring former players. For example, MVP candidate Brian Lozano (9 goals, 6 assists) is said to be on Siboldi’s wish list and if the shifty winger joined the Cementeros he’d be reunited with Jonathan “Cabecita” Rodríguez, his running mate on that title-winning Santos team.

This would appear to be a pipe dream, however, since Lozano’s buy-out fee is significant. In addition, Cruz Azul would likely face a bidding war with LAFC of MLS who hopes to pair the Uruguayan wizard with Carlos Vela. That would be impossible unless surplus players are sold off.

Another striker getting a look-see is Querétaro’s Ake Loba whose contract belongs to the Tigres. Talks are reportedly under way. Siboldi has also put in a request for defensive midfielder José Juan “Gallito” Vázquez, another holdover from that 2018 Santos team. But that wish won’t come true as “Gallito” is returning to Guadalajara.

Also rumored to be in Cruz Azul’s sights are right back Fernando Navarro (León), speedy winger Juergen Damm (Tigres) and Guadalajara’s Isaac Brizeula.

As these talks play out, the Cementeros must also decide the fate of playmaker Elías Hernández and defender Igor Lichnofsky. Hernández helped lead Cruz Azul to the Apertura 2018 Final, but he has been injury-prone the past 12 months, playing in only 18 games in 2019. He scored just once in 12 Apertura 2019 appearances.