Monterrey and América started their Apertura 2019 season off with a difficult game for both clubs. Monterrey had to travel to CDMX and take on América at the Estadio Azteca and at altitude, which always seems to bother Monterrey. Meanwhile, Las Águilas were hosting one of the favorites for the title in their opening match.
Monterrey got their first goal of the season from Rogelio Funes Mori. Funes Mori had gotten the ball in space after Dorlan Pabón had done well to pounce on a bad pass from América. Funes Mori was left in acres of space and he made no mistake after being set free to go one v one against keeper Agustín Marchesín.
The lead, however, would be short lived as América battled back right away and scored two goals in quick succession. First, Renato Ibarra won a penalty after contesting a loose ball in the Monterrey box with Carlos Rodriguez. The penalty looked harsh in real time and even worse on replay after it appeared that Ibarra wasn’t able to control the ball and simply fell down once he made contact with Rodriguez.
Despite the protests from Los Rayados, Nico Castillo slotted the ball past Marcelo Barovero, who had even guessed correctly, only to have the ball go through his hands and into the back of the net.
Before the dust had settled on the penalty, Monterrey found themselves down another goal after Mateus Uribe found himself all alone in the middle of the penalty box and he rose above the collective shell-shocked Monterrey defense who simply looked on in horror as he headed the ball past a helpless Barovero.
A disaster of a few minutes for Monterrey, while the home fans were loving the goals and the comeback.
The clubs traded possession for the rest of the half, with both teams having chances, only to see them denied. Barovero did well to stop an América player all alone driving on goal, and Monterrey were unlucky to not be able to take advantage of some rather shocking rebounds allowed by Marchesín.
Monterrey drew level about a half-hour in, after Stefan Medina played a brilliant pass over the top for Avilés Hurtado to head home. Quick thinking from the two Colombians to find the América defense napping.
Monterrey were denied a penalty later on in the half, as Funes Mori had beaten the América defenders to a loose ball in the box, only for the referee to wave away objections to it, despite the similarities to the previous penalty called in Las Aguilas favor.
Half-time came with both clubs even and looking to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and put themselves in a position to win. Unfortunately for Monterrey, América would be the team that would do just that.
¡¡GOOOOLAAAAZOOOOO AZOOOOO AZOOOOOO!! Nico Castillo con un gran remate de cabeza le devuelve la ventaja al América@ClubAmerica 3-2 @Rayados— TUDN USA (@TUDNUSA) July 21, 2019
Disfruta EN VIVO https://t.co/p9q1vDyJXv pic.twitter.com/cc2e6lBiTB
Castillo would get his second goal of the night after losing his marker in the box and heading home América’s third goal of the night. A terrible defensive error to leave the forward all alone, and while his time at América hasn’t reached the heights the Chilean did at UNAM Pumas, he’s still good enough to grab a winner if given enough space and time and an uncontested header.
Monterrey tried to get back into the match, as Diego Alonso pulled Jonathan Gonzalez off the pitch in the 60th minute and brought on Rodolfo Pizarro. Alonso also switched Leonel Vanigoni for Jesús Gallardo in the 67th minute in an effort to get a more attacking oriented defender on the pitch, but it was for naught, as Monterrey weren’t able to really figure out a way to get consistent pressure.
América put the game to bed in the 77th minute after, once again, Monterrey’s defense was shown to be lacking, and Roger Martinez was able to follow up on a rebound and was left relatively unchallenged as the Rayado defenders seemed afraid of making a mistake and giving up a penalty.
Ángel Zaldívar was brought on in the 80th minute to do whatever it is that he does for Pabón, but unsurprisingly, he was unable to spur any more offense for the visitors and the match ended in an ugly 4-2 loss for Monterrey.
The defense looked out of sorts and terrible, and so if Monterrey are going to have any chance at advancing in the Liguilla, that needs to be sorted out quickly. Monterrey travel to Liga MX newcomers Atlético San Luis next week before hosting Club León the week after that, so Alonso has to figure out the defense away from home before a big match against another favorite for Liguilla success this season. Losing at the Azteca isn’t exactly unexpected or a disaster, but this Monterrey team looked shockingly bad at the back, nothing like the team that was able to routinely shut down opposing teams last season.
In the end, Monterrey have an opening match to forget. Let’s hope next week is better.