América were able to close out the regular season with a 1-0 win against Juárez to secure a spot in the liguilla. On the other hand, Bravos sit in 16th place which could possibly turn into 17th depending on other results from this weekend. With this standing, they’ll have to pay a relegation fine that is yet to be determined, while the Águilas will get an extra week of rest as they await their opponent.
The first few minutes of the game showed a determined Juárez who wanted to win the game, but América eventually adjusted and the border city team had no choice but to sit back and wait to attack on the counter. In the 10th minute, it seemed as though América’s high press paid off as Henry Martin scored a goal, but it was rightfully called offside. This disallowed goal led Juárez to retreat even further than they already had, and so they lost the drive to attack. This need to only defend is what led to América’s breakthrough in the 36th minute.
América once again made their way into Juárez’s area thanks to a pass from Álvaro Fidalgo to Brian Rodríguez. The latter then attempted a shot, but instead the ball hit Luis ‘Chaka’ Rodriguez and fell to the feet of Richard Sánchez who did not hesitate to shoot and open the scoring. A few minutes later, Alejandro Zendejas was subbed off and touched his right leg indicating a possible muscle injury. So far, there has not been any news on the matter and said news will most likely come at the beginning of the week. Zendejas had already missed weeks of play due to a hamstring injury, but another injury a week before the start of the liguilla would be worrisome news for the club to say the least.
The second half was where the game got intense from both sides, but especially from Juárez who were chasing the draw. The first 10 minutes saw América struggling to keep the home side from scoring. But the visitors finally got their chance in the 58th minute when Henry Martin took the ball into the box, but Maxi Olivera was able to stop the shot from going in and kick it out for a corner. On that corner, Brian Rodríguez’s shot went wide and once again wasted another opportunity. All night long, Rodríguez had chances to score, but seemed to miss the final touch to do so. The game went back and forth for a bit until the 70th minute when América were suddenly hit with multiple attacks by Juárez, and if it wasn’t for keeper Malagón, the score would’ve not only been tied up, but even the possibility of a Juárez win was high.
Crucial saves from Malagón came in the 70th, 71st, 75th, and 86th minutes. There was a total of six crucial saves by the América goalkeeper throughout the game. The win for the Águilas was a mix of Malagón’s saves and a lack of finishing from Juárez. Just when it seemed the home side had found the equalizer, they would somehow miss. One of those moments was in the 73rd minute when Gabriel Fernández found the ball at his feet, and instead of kicking it directly at goal, had a terrible touch and sent the ball to his right and out for a goal kick for the visitors. This was an opportunity for the equalizer, but they instead squandered their clearest chance of the night and any possibility of the repechaje.
While América get to continue on, Juárez have their season come to a close with a fine and many decisions that need to be made. They’ve had season after season of failures and that will continue if they don’t get serious during the offseason, especially since promotion and relegation will eventually make its way back into the league and Juárez can easily find themselves in the second division with their form in the past years.