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Club América defeat Chicago Fire 1-0 to advance to the Round of 16

Even without star striker Henry Martin, América got the needed win to stay alive in the competition.

Leagues Cup 2023: St Louis City v Club America Photo by Bill Barrett/ ISI Photos /Getty Images

After a terrible performance in their last group stage match, Club América were able to pull off a 1-0 win against the Chicago Fire in order to advance to the Round of 16. This competition has not been kind to Liga MX teams, which is an understatement, so Tuesday night’s clash against Nashville will be crucial not only for the team, but for the league as they are one of just five Mexican teams still left in the competition.

América were dealt some tough news as Henry Martin was forced to withdraw due to a foot injury sustained during warmups. The extent of the injury is unknown as more tests will need to be run to determine that as well as the timeline of a return. He was seen leaving the stadium with a boot on his right foot which was hopefully a precaution and not a sign of something worse. An injury like this would have been a major blow to the team last season, but this time around they have more options. Obviously not having Martin available isn’t ideal, as well as Diego Valdes, but the rest of the team will be just fine.

Once the necessary change was made, América started off the action in the seventh minute when Richard Sanchez attempted a shot, but it was deflected. A few minutes later, Alvaro Fidalgo attempted his own shot that was eventually cleared. Then it was Chicago’s turn to take the ball with their own chances that also led to nothing. The match then went back and forth as both sides attempted their shots. Then, in the 33rd minute, it looked as if America had broken the back and forth pendulum when Julian Quiñones was sent a through ball that he was able to put away past Chicago’s goalkeeper. The goal was then called back due to the striker being offside, which upon replay showed he wasn’t. This was not the first time América had been on the wrong end of a call. Their previous game had many questionable calls and in all honesty, this whole tournament has been very questionable as Liga MX teams have been on the wrong end of calls way more times than MLS teams.

The second half started where the first half left off as both teams went back and forth with both looking to control possession. América were more successful in that considering they held 63% of the possession compared to Chicago’s 37%. Even with the small percentage of possession, Chicago had been doing a great job of holding off the visitors who could not put any of their attempts away. Having Quiñones up top was a big advantage for América, but it was evident the team was missing Martin up top as well. It was finally in the 64th minute when the deadlock was broken.

Leo Suarez took the ball up the right side of the field when he sent it into the box where Alejandro Zendejas got his head on it and sent it to the back of the net. Well, at least Zendejas was originally credited for the goal until further review showed the ball skimmed his head and Chicago player Gaston Gimenez scored an own goal as he attempted to clear it. Regardless of how, América were in the lead and had to hold on for another 20 minutes.

As the game winded down, it seemed as though América were going to make the next round without another serious problem. That was until Richard Sanchez was sent off in stoppage time due to a hard challenge on Brian Gutierrez. Now the team will be without both Richard Sanchez and Henry Martin in the Round of 16. Overall, Club América should be fine against Nashville as they should be able to adjust without Martin, Sanchez and possibly Valdes, but it won’t be easy as Liga MX teams have had a difficult time in the Leagues Cup.