America’s Apertura 2022 wrapped up after a tough loss in the semifinals. Their journey to a 14th championship ended after they made an incredible comeback where they went from the bottom of the table to first in the league. By the end of the season they were favored to win the trophy, but disappeared at the worst time. Now, instead of celebrating their break with a title, they find themselves asking how they let another title slip through their hands.
The beginning of the season was one to forget for America. After five games, they only managed to win one and found themselves near the bottom of the table. The only reason they never were last was because Queretaro was by far the worst team in the league with only one win in 17 matches. Some might argue that the reason the Aguilas had a bad start to the season was because they were distracted with international games, and honestly, that is a valid reason. In less than a month, America played four international games with three teams from Europe and one from North America. They faced Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid and LAFC. Out of the four games, they lost to both EPL teams, tied Real Madrid, and beat LAFC in penalties.
Those four games weren’t needed, and let’s be honest, they were played because of the money. Liga MX is very popular in the US, where the games were played, and fans will pay anything to see their favorite team play close by. Not only was there travel involved between the games, but mentally it must have been difficult losing to these high caliber teams from overseas. It may have been preseason for three of the teams and only a friendly, but the losses had to have had an impact mentally, especially since the team was already struggling in league play. It wasn’t until after the international friendlies were done that America were able to turn things around.
With only one win under their belt, America hosted Juarez at home where they went on to win 2-1, and this is where everything changed. America went on to record 9 consecutive wins, a team record, and scored 26 goals while only allowing four. While there were many players who stepped up after this win, Emilio Lara had a great season. After Jorge Sanchez left to play in the Netherlands, Lara was thrown in and quickly became a starter. His teammate leaving to pursue his European dream was the best thing to happen to him. Unfortunately, there were instances where his inexperience showed. Henry Martin also had a great season, scoring 13 goals in 21 matches. Martin was one of the players who were shut down for the majority of the semifinals though he did score a goal that would have been the equalizer and sent his team to the final, but he was offside by half a foot. So close yet so far for Martin and America.
Their win streak was broken after they were able to salvage a point against Santos in a week five makeup match. From there, they won four more games until the semifinals against Toluca, where they lost in the first leg and were unable to come back to life in the second leg for a ticket to the final. It’s unbelievable how America went from defeating Puebla in the quarterfinals 11-2 on aggregate but lost to Toluca 2-3. The Aguilas honestly looked lost and some players disappeared during those two games. It was a disappointing end to what could’ve and should’ve been an incredible season that ended with a championship.