The wait is finally over. Keeper Guillermo Ochoa has been medically cleared to return to action, and will do so next weekend when América host sizzling-hot Tigres in the Estadio Azteca next Sunday night. América currently find themselves one point ahead of the San Nicolás de los Garza-based squad, with 28 and 27 points, respectively. They also occupy the final two spots to own a first-round bye, pending the result of the Pachuca-Pumas match, given if Pumas win, they would jump both of these teams.
Ochoa’s last match was the Super Clásico, which ended in América’s favor by a final of 1-0. He had played every single minute of the 11 regular season matches until that point. His injury, of course, came as his team prepared to face Cruz Azul in Round 12, just minutes before the start of the match. Herrera was unable to contain himself, and ultimately blamed the injury on the Mexican National Team overworking him as they prepared for their three friendly matches a few weeks back.
In his absence, América struggled, garnering two draws, a loss to league-leading León, and barely got their first win since his injury on Saturday night vs. lowly Atlas. Interestingly enough, he was ready to return for the Atlas game, but the coaching staff decided to give him one more week off to give him a few more days to reach 100% and have him ready for next week’s showdown with Tigres, which could be a potential Final matchup.
Following their Tigres match, América will visit FC Juárez to close out the season, which gives Ochoa two games to get back in rhythm and prepare for the playoffs. The good news is he started training since last week, so he should be good to go come Sunday night. And with América expected to clinch a first-round bye, he should have an extra week to nurse any possible setbacks.
This no doubt comes as great news for Herrera and company, as they get their World-Cup, European Football experienced keeper back for the most important part of the year. Not to mention, he was expected to miss four to six weeks; he ended up missing the minimum of four. There’s nothing like having a reliable and experienced keeper available come playoff time. With their already star-studded squad to go along with Ochoa’s return, América are undoubtedly in the mix as title favorites.