Match: Necaxa vs. Club América
Date: Sunday, July 22nd
Time: 9:00 PM Eastern, 8:00 PM Central, 6:00 PM Pacific, 1:00 AM UTC
Venue: Estadio Victoria (Aguascalientes, Ags.)
Club América return to Liga MX action for the first time since being bounce by eventual champions Santos Laguna in the liguilla semifinals last season. The first test for the Mexico City club will be a short trip to Aguascalientes to take on a Necaxa side who were crowned Supercopa MX champions with a 1-0 victory over Monterrey last weekend in California.
This Club América squad set to take on Necaxa will be markedly different than the side that lost to Santos Laguna in the semifinals of the liguilla last season. French attacker Jérémy Ménez, who played a massive role in getting las Águilas to the semifinals, tore the ACL in his left during the preseason and is expected to miss the entire 2018 Apertura tournament. As if the loss of Ménez wasn’t devastating enough, star attacking midfielder Cecilio Domínguez broke his jaw during a preseason match against Monarcas and is expected to miss a significant chunk of the tournament as well. On top of these two injuries, Club América will be without young starlet Diego Lainez and young defender Carlos Vargas who are competing in the Central American and Caribbean games with the u-21 national team. Both of these young players were expected to make an impact for Club América this season.
Necaxa will also look significantly different than they did this time last season. Head coach Ignacio Ambríz is no longer with the team and several of their key players including Marcelo Bravo, Roberto Alvarado, and Igor Lichnovsky were all sold during the Liga MX Draft. Bravero, who was voted the best goalkeeper of the season, was sold to Monterrey and both Alvarado and Lichnovsky were sold to Cruz Azul.
Since the start of the offseason, Necaxa has been on quite the rebuilding process. The club hired Michael Leaño from Ascenso MX side Zacatepec and brought in an exciting new mix of players from Ascenso MX, Liga MX, and abroad. Perhaps the two biggest players brought into the club were goalkeeper Hugo González from Monterrey and Carlos ‘Gulit’ Peña from Cruz Azul.
Despite all of the injuries and player departures suffered during their preseason, Club América managed to stay unbeaten through six games - the last of which was played against Manchester United in Phoenix Arizona. Miguel Herrera will look to carry his depleted squad’s good form over into the Liga MX season. If this is to happen players like Agustín Marchesín, Mateus Uribe, Andrés Ibargüen, Henry Martin, and Oribe Peralta will have to play at the top of their game.
In the case of Necaxa, look for the new and improved squad to play their heart out in order to both give their new manager his first career win as well as show the home fans what they can expect from los Rayos this season.