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America records their second win of the season as they defeat Necaxa 2-1 at home

Even without Alejandro Zendejas, the Aguilas were able to win thanks to goals by Diego Valdes and Henry Martin.

America v Necaxa - Torneo Clausura 2023 Liga MX Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

It wasn’t the most dominating performance for Club America, but a win is a win and the Aguilas secured all three points, while Necaxa went home empty handed. Necaxa shot themselves in the foot early on as they sat back and waited for the counter-attack, but had to scrap that plan as they went down 2-0 against an America team that was not at their best. The Aguilas will have to bounce back quickly as they travel to play Atletico de San Luis on Tuesday, while Necaxa welcome Pumas at home on Wednesday during a double match week.

The biggest question for ‘Tano’ Ortiz and America leading into this week’s match was who was going to replace Alejandro Zendejas in the starting lineup. Zendejas was carted off the field last week against Santos Laguna after the youngster fell to the ground holding his hamstring. It was later confirmed the severity of the injury and the timeline for his return would be about 3-4 weeks.

Zendejas is a dynamic player who causes major headaches for defenses, and has proven to be a critical player for the Aguilas. Maybe if he hadn’t gone off to play a friendly with the U.S. National Team, the injury wouldn’t have happened, or maybe it would have. Unfortunately, the young player did not receive the proper rest after playing a game and was in the starting lineup right after coming back. It was actually surprising the club allowed him to leave, considering the match was not during an official FIFA break so they were under no obligation to release him. With his injury, does the club regret their decision?

Everybody’s question about the starting XI was answered when the lineup came out and Roger Martinez took the spot. It was a bit surprising, because Brian Rodriguez could have also taken the role considering he is just as explosive as Zendejas. Rodriguez would have been perfect considering Necaxa’s game plan was to sit back and wait for the counter which is where Rodriguez would have come in handy. The first 20 minutes were more of a back-and-forth between the two teams where they both had chances to open the scoring. While America held most of the possession, they were not as dangerous as they usually are in games which could be due to the Zendejas injury. It wasn’t until the 21st minute when America was awarded a corner where Nestor Araujo headed the ball towards goal, and Diego Valdes was there to kick the ball in.

The goal was originally called offside, but upon further review it was determined Valdes was onside and the goal was finally awarded. Immediately after the goal, the Aguilas had a chance for a second when Emilio Lara went up the right side and sent the ball into the box, where Henry Martin attempted to back heel the ball into the net but the shot went wide. Necaxa was then able to start their own attack that could have led to a goal, but Israel Reyes was there to kick the ball out. Right after that the visitors had another opportunity, but Heriberto Jurado took a shot that went above the crossbar. Necaxa almost had a nightmare scenario in the 27th minute when Salvador Reyes sent in a ball into the box that hit Jose Carlos Van Rankin and almost went into the net, but goalkeeper Hugo Gonzalez punched it out. Necaxa did not have a clear goal-scoring opportunity until 10 minutes later when Edgar Mendez sent in a cross that Vicente Poggi was waiting for, but he skied the shot. Poggi was not marked and he missed a clear shot that most likely would’ve equalized the game. The visitors had their last opportunity of the first half of the game in stoppage time thanks to a throw-in that was cleared out by Araujo which allowed the home team to go into the half with a 1-0 advantage. If America was going to take the three points they were going to have to wake up offensively and Necaxa was going to have to scrap their plan and start attacking.

The second half started off with a big mistake from Necaxa when Alexis Peña committed a foul on Diego Valdes inside the box. Henry Martin did not hesitate to step up to take the penalty and bury it.

It took a while for the penalty to be taken because Necaxa fought with the referee arguing the penalty should not have been given because Valdes was offside to begin with. Video replay showed Valdes was onside, and so the penalty was given. Martin stepped up and sent goalkeeper Gonzalez the wrong way to go up 2-0 in the 51st minute. Now more than ever, Necaxa needed to stop the plan they had and start moving forward since they were down two goals and had nothing to lose. They made adjustments a few minutes later that eventually paid off in the 77th minute with a goal.

The goals started when Jonathan Santos, who was subbed on earlier, lost the ball and Ricardo Monreal took off into the box, and somehow got the ball off to Maxi Silvera as he fell to the ground. Silvera did not hesitate and put the ball past Oscar Jimenez to be within one of the equalizer. Just as things were looking up for the visitors, another nightmare occurred when Agustin Oliveros attempted to take the ball away from Pedro Aquino, but the tackle was a bit too harsh and the referee gave Oliveros a straight red card. Eventually the play was re-examined through VAR and the referee changed his mind, rescinding the expulsion and instead Oliveros received a yellow card. Necaxa was saved by VAR. At this point, America was now on the defensive as Richard Sanchez was subbed off for Sebastian Caceres to bolster the defense and hold on the remaining five minutes of the game plus the stoppage time. This change almost backfired as Necaxa had another clear shot when Juan Pablo Dominguez dribbled up the left side into the box and took a shot when he should have passed it instead, as he had three teammates inside the box who had clearer shots. Dominguez was desperate for a goal that might have come, if only he would’ve passed the ball. This shot was essentially the last opportunity they had as the eight minutes of stoppage time were all America, as they attempted to pound the last nail in the coffin with one more goal that did not come. It did not matter though, as the game ended and they kept all three points.

America did not look as explosive in this game as they usually do, but at the end of the day they took home the win and the three points. Those three points are very important as double match week arrives, and there is only going to be two full days of rest before their next game on Tuesday. Necaxa has three days to make adjustments in their game plan as they host their next game on Wednesday.