Club America begin the 2017 Liga Clausura with a quasi-rebuilding progress. Two of the club’s most important figures over the past four years, Moises Muñoz and Rubens Sambueza, left the team soon after the debacle against Tigres in the previous tournament’s final. Agustin Marchesin replaces Muñoz under the posts, while Christian Paredes, an 18 year-old attacker from Paraguay, and Oscar Jimenez, Chiapas’ former goalkeeper, join las Aguilas. Oribe Peralta now captains the team.
Expectations from the team appear lessened after the fruitless centennial season. Over the last two games of the season, America’s key players failed to show their talent and overall composure against Tigres. Although the team has the pieces to make another deep run in the tournament, many doubts still exist. From the uncertain security of Ricardo La Volpe’s position following the loss to Tigres, to untested assets, the team has roles it needs to define early on in the season.
In its previous campaign, America’s attack and defense changed once La Volpe took over Nacho Ambriz’s former head coaching position. By the end of the season, America finished third in total goals with 29 and the team allowed just three goals in the three tournament rounds it played in. Sambueza gave America a threat on set-pieces, but the team has the same if not greater threat in Michael Arroyo. As to who could inject some pace in the midfield, Renato Ibarra and Wiliam Da Silva showed greater speed towards the end of the season over Sambueza. Da Silva and Ibarra, however, at times showed a lack of patience or eagerness to force an attack which stopped promising plays. Given La Volpe now has a full season to figure out who can lead transition plays.
As for Marchesin, Las Aguilas have a younger goalkeeper. Over the course six years, America has benefitted from deals made with los Santos de Laguna, the team Marchesin played for before joining America. Marchesin taking over Muñoz spot doesn’t raise the concerns replacing Sambueza does as Muñoz’s starting role sometimes went to Hugo Gonzalez, another player America let go at the end of last season.
Finally, Darwin Quintero’s role on the team remains a question as well. After the loss to Tigres, Quintero was among the players America was willingly let go. Quintero may leave the team or he may not. Either way, Quintero has had a diminished presence. The team’s decision has shown they won’t hesitate in letting go players upon a perceived failure. Beginning with Toluca, the team Sambueza joined, America begins a season where they must justify its send-off of both Muñoz and Sambueza and redeem its titles centennial.