Club America played their second game of the preseason tournament against Toluca where they were able to defeat the Diablos Rojos to get their first win after a disappointing opening match. Two goals in the first half all but sealed the win for America who slowed down in the second but were able to pull off a clean sheet and the win.
The first 25 minutes of the game featured a ton of back and forth. Toluca had an opportunity early on to take the lead on a free kick, but Jean Meneses could not get his head on the ball. Two minutes later, Sebastian Saucedo had another opportunity, but his shot went wide of goal. America had their own shot rejected minutes later when Roger Martinez’s shot went off the crossbar. A few minutes later, Pedro Aquino stopped a Toluca attack and started a counter, but R. Martinez sent in a long ball to Jonathan ‘Cabecita’ Rodriguez who could not get on the end of it. This back and forth went on for the next few minutes until America broke the deadlock with R. Martinez pass to ‘Cabecita’ in the box who struggled a bit at first with it, but eventually found some space to get the shot off and put it in the back of the net despite being surrounded by four red shirts.
Only five minutes later and he was close to a second after Toluca goalkeeper Gustavo Gutierrez distributed the ball terribly and Alejandro Zendejas was able to steal it to send it to ‘Cabecita’ whose shot went through the keepers feet, but was saved off the line by a defender.
The second goal of the night came in the 34th minute when Fernando Navarro was knocked off the ball and Brian Rodriguez made the initial shot towards goal, but upon the deflection, he went for the rebound and didn’t miss the second time around.
With only a few minutes to go until halftime, two minutes of stoppage time to be exact, Pedro Aquino made a bad decision. He was already sitting on a yellow card from earlier in the game and was carded again in the 45’ and subsequently sent off. America would have to adjust to being down a player and hope it wouldn’t come back to haunt them.
The second half was different for both sides. Toluca immediately came in with more energy than America. The azulcremas were down to 10 men, so it wasn’t a surprise they came out with a more conservative approach than their opponents. However, they were a bit too conservative, playing without a sense of urgency at all in the second half. They did have attacking opportunities, but it was mostly a game of defending. In the end it worked. No matter how much Toluca pressed, they were not able to break down the defense. Some of that also had to do with America goalkeeper Oscar Jimenez. He had a great game, but it’s unknown if he’ll even stay with America for the Clausura campaign. Guillermo Ochoa’s decision to sign with Serie A squad Salernitana will play a big part in his decision for sure. Jimenez is a great keeper and would be the starter on any other team, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he left. There’s still some time until the start of the season, so for now Jimenez stays put in Mexico City.
Even though America did lose a bit of energy in the second half, they looked like their usual self. They have a strong roster and a lot of depth, so we shouldn’t expect them to struggle a ton, but then again, everyone thought they would win the Apertura title. As long as they stay focused, they should be fine. Next, they’ll face off against a struggling Pumas who have yet to win a game in the tournament so far.