In what will be the second of only two league matches played tonight, América will receive Gallos Blancos in the Estadio Azteca at 10 ET (9 CT), in what promises to be a great opportunity to get back on track and in good terms with their fans for the home team. Or at least, that’s what the stats would suggest.
Despite the lone point differential between these two (América 10, Querétaro 9), their actual matches have been two completely different tales. While América continue to search for a true identity under new head coach Santiago Solari (and boy have they taken heat from it), they’ve at least managed to keep their games close and have gotten results in this early going. Ugly or not, they’ve taken down San Luis, FC Juárez, and Puebla, all at home. All three were must-wins. And on the road, they kept it close with a tough Rayados who they succumbed to by 1-0, and got an important point from the always difficult Estadio Corona, managing a 1-1 draw against Santos.
Querétaro are the only remaining road winless team in this football year. They’ve played 11 road matches since the start of last season, recording a grand total of 0W, 2D, 9L. Not to mention, 10 goals scored against 24 goals conceded in said matches. This season specifically, despite winning all three of their home games thus far (Atlas, Pumas, and Pachuca), they’ve dropped both of their road matches in (Toluca and Cruz Azul). The issue isn’t so much them losing as to how they’ve lost. After taking a 1-0 lead in Toluca, they fell apart over the following 10 minutes, and never managed to get close again, ultimately ending in a 3-1 demise. In the Azteca against Cruz Azul, they never stood a chance, failing to create any sense of danger with a non-existent defense, getting thrashed by a quality Cruz Azul side, 4-0.
While América have remained a consistent, hard-working bunch, Querétaro have been an up-and-down club that have performed at extremes depending on the location of the match. They’ve easily walked over Pumas and Pachuca at home, but have been crushed on the road by Toluca and Cruz Azul. And today won’t be any different. América offers even better quality than the previous two, and considering how much Gallos have changed (and faltered) on both sides of the pitch when playing on the road. I expect this to be a no-doubter for Solari and company.
The schedule actually plays out in favor of América over the following weeks as they continue to search for an optimal style of play and one that they can consistently be successful with under their new Argentine head coach. After hosting Puebla last week, they play an inconsistent Querétaro squad today, followed by a visit to league-worst Atlas next week, only to play hosts to another faltering squad, Pachuca, the following week. In other words, América could (and should) end this stretch with a 4-game winning streak before travelling to Tijuana in Round 9, in what appears to promise a challenge indeed.
PREDICTION: Despite only conceding 1 goal at home this season, Querétaro are tied for the second-worst road defense, allowing 7 goals thus far. That combined with América winning 3 of their last 6 meetings between these two, 2 of those being draws, and Gallos’ lone win coming just last season, this doesn’t paint for a pretty picture for the visitors. On the other hand, América stuggled to get past Gallos’ closed spaced defense last season and got absolutely burned on the counter-attack. So, a victory for the visitors is possible However, I don’t anticipate América to allow for a repeat of last season. América should win this game hands down.