America and Cruz Azul will battle in one of the most anticipated finals in years, which will understandably distract a lot of people from the reeling that America’s 6-1 victory had over the Pumas fan base. After a surprising season in which the Universitarios qualified to the Liguilla and finished third, many would consider it a satisfying season. It got even better when they went through to the Quarterfinals and defeated Tigres, a team that had gotten the better of them before.
But it all went crashing down when Pumas was eliminated for a second straight tournament by their biggest rival Club America. Worse, they did it by suffering their most embarrassing defeat ever against Las Águilas.
A lot of takes have appeared about the game, including that this is just one of those accidents in football. However, one thing should be clear, this was no accident. Miguel Herrera’s America has dominated David Patiño’s Pumas.
2018 ends with six clashes between America and Pumas. Coach Miguel Herrera has been extremely successful in Clasicos with America and has never lost to Pumas when he’s coached America. This year proved it, with three draws and three wins. This year, Herrera has taken his dominance over Patiño to extremes and we analyze each game.
Regular Season: UNAM Pumas 0 America 0- The first meeting turned out to be the best performance for Pumas. After a great start, the unbeaten Pumas went in front of a sold out crowd and were the better team against an America team that still held their on. Nicolas Castillo came closest to scoring for the Univeristarios, and at the end, the draw was probably the fair result.
Liguilla Quarterfinal: UNAM Pumas 1 America 4- After Pumas fans were aching to meet their rivals (Pumas fans actually cheered in their final regular season game because a draw against Querétaro set them up to face América), it all turned into a nightmare really quick. Almost a minute in and America had taken the lead off a Mateus Uribe header. A Jeremy Menez penalty kick and a Uribe golazo gave America a 3-0 lead. Nico Castillo then added a goal off a penalty kick before America got another Menez penalty kick to finish it.
The series looked to be over and America had embarrassed Pumas at home. Pumas’s defense looked weak and goalkeeper Alfred Saldivar struggled. It was total domination for America as Herrera’s team was better than Pumas in every way.
Liguilla Quarterfinal: America 2 UNAM Pumas 1- The return leg was finished quick when Pumas once again got scored by Matias Uribe. The goal came from a terrible mistake from Luis Fuentes, who had a nightmare season and series with Pumas. Pumas would lose Marcelo Diaz with a red card but get back with a goal by Jesus Gallardo. Still, with America having a 5-2 aggregate lead and taking the game easy, they would still find the goal to win the game by a 2-1 score.
The series was a terrible lesson for Pumas. America had struggled near the end of the regular season, and the fact that they were eliminated in the Semifinales by Santos, who beat them 4-1 at home in the First Leg, showed that they were never really that good. It was just Pumas who made them look good.
Regular Season: America 2 UNAM Pumas 2- In what many people would look as maybe the best result on paper, in reality it could be in the running for worse results. Pumas took an early lead against America but the game got tied with an Oribe Peralta goal. America then went down two men, and Pumas took the lead off a Carlos Gonzalez goal. Pumas had the lead and a two-man advantage, and yet they started to sit back and play conservatively. The timidness in play might show a fear in the team to not get the result and it helped America, who tied in the final minute of play with a Henry Martin header. Pumas allowed America to tie with a two- man advantage in a game that really left a lot to be desired from everybody, from the coaching staff to the players. It wouldn’t be the end to the embarrassments at the Estadio Azteca for Pumas.
Liguilla Semifinal: UNAM Pumas 1 America 1- After a surprisingly positive performance that eliminated Tigres at home, Pumas might not been the favorite in the series against America but it certainly had risen its stock. However, things didn’t start very brightly for the Universitarios, and America took the lead off a goal by Diego Lainez. Pumas then tied it in the second half and might have have made the necessary plato have gotten another goal, but America came closest to getting that second goal when they got a penalty kick that Roger Martinez wasted. While it was goalkeeper Saldivar who made the stop, the Colombian striker kicked it terribly. Saldivar had a good game but so did America’s keeper Agustin Marchesin.
Liguilla Semifinal: America 6 UNAM Pumas 1- A total disaster of a game for Pumas. Keeper Saldivar totally made a mess of a Renato Ibarra shot to give América a 1-0 lead. Pumas tied off a Gonzalez header against the run of play but a defensive mistake allowed Bruno Valdez a free header for the 2-1. Saldivar eventually made a mess out of another play, which gifted Roger Martinez a goal and Club America’s third goal of the night. Guido Rodriguez off a corner and Lainez off a counter attack gave America a 5-1 lead seven minutes into the second half. Finally, Emmanuel Aguilera scored a penalty for the 6-1 lead.
America once again totally dominated the game. In the two-game series, Victor Malcorra played at left back (not his normal position) and like Luis Fuentes before him, was a highway for America’s right side. Like the 4-1 before, Pumas’s defense struggled terribly, and Miguel Herrera had once again outcoached Patiño in every way, as America was clearly the superior teams.
Seeing all performances from Pumas against America, a pattern has clearly emerged. While America is the more talented squad of the two, this absolute dominance from Las Águilas is new. America had never been as superior to Pumas in their head-to-head performances as they were this year.
And it didn’t start on Sunday. The 6-1 is the culmination of something that was seen early this year in Ciudad Universitaria and when Pumas had a lead with two more players at the Estadio Azteca. Pumas and David Patiño have a severe America problem and fans are going to resent it for a while.