La Corregidora shook and shouted the names of Liborio Sanchez, Carlos Bueno, and Hibert Ruiz more than once in early December. Querétaro for a period of three weeks talked about a hypothetical Championship, about eliminating Chivas, the Apertura's best team, and about Adolfo "El Bofo" Bautista's notorious blue-colored Mohawk.
Around the same time and just two hours southeast of Querétaro, in Mexico City, Club America's stories coming out in the media and fans' gossip were that of a broken team, about a team that no longer lived of the present but of the past. The entire team was put on the transfer list, and the coaching and presidential positions were up in the air.
José Saturnino Cardozo's Gallos Blancos comes to the Clausura inauguration as the team that made it to La Liguilla and fell short against Tuca Ferreti's Tigres, the Apertura champions, in the semi-finals. Miguel "El Piojo" Herrera's America comes to the game as one of the teams that finished on the bottom of the table.
Mark Twain, an American humorist, novelist, and short story author, once remarked - "Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." Hererra and his players have to understand America's reality - the team has not displayed ambition since 2007 when Las Aguilas lost to Arsenal de Sarandí in La Copa Sudamericana final.
There are a handful of those "great" people who still go to the stadium and proudly call themselves americanistas de corazón. It is to them that players like Rolfi Montenegro, Aquivaldo Mosquera, Rosinei, and Chucho Benítez have to come in union with Rojas, Aguilar, Diego Reyes, Jesús Molina, and Topo Valenzuela. The new players: Chema Cárdenas, Hobbit Bermúdez, Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, and Moisés Muñoz are well aware what is asked from them (in Hobbit, Moi, and Chema, El Piojo has three players he can trust and help him consolidate the team's spirit).
In the Apertura, America defeated Querétaro 2-1. America got on the scoring sheet thanks to Benitez's first goal as an azulcrema, and later went up two goals, thanks to Efrain Cortés' own goal. Franco Neill scored the only goal for then a Querétaro team coached by Uruguay's Gustavo Matosas.
Querétaro will begin a long and complicated Clausura journey without its hit man and captain Carlos Bueno, who will play with Argentina's San Lorenzo de Almagro after Querétaro agreed to free the player in a one-year loan. On top of Bueno's departure, Querétaro sold Hibert Ruiz to Jaguares; Hibert played an important role on Cardozo's starting eleven. Both of these departures give as product one of Cardozo's biggest tests and should enable to see if his qualities on the sidelines are the same as they were on the pitch.
Antonio Valle, ESPN Deportes Radio's reporter, witnessed Club America's Wednesday training session and saw on the field as the starting eleven - Moi, on goal, Topo, Mosquera, Reyes, as the three center backs, Kevin Rojas, Paul Aguilar, on the wings, forming a five-men defense, Molina, Rosinei, as the central midfielders, Rolfi, Hobbit, and Benítez, up front. During the last preparation game against Morelia, Herrera asked Rolfi and Benítez to play behind Hobbit, making one of Mexico's shortest players playing in a nine position, similar to how Guardiola asks Messi and sometimes Cesc Fàbregas to play on the pitch.
From this probable line-up, Chema Cárdenas could be put on the pitch instead of Aguilar; this permits Kevin Rojas to play on the right flank and Cárdenas on the left flank. The option of seeing Venezuela's international from the start should not be disregarded. He would take Topo's spot in the line-up. Mosquera will play the role of sweeper, and Reyes will accompany on the right, while Vizcarrondo on the left.
Whatever the final scoreboard indicates does not matter, what matters this Saturday is to see a Club America with ambition, of which will allow the team make its past glories happen in the present.
You can catch Querétaro vs. Club America on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 6 pm EDT on Telefutura.