After falling behind last night 0-1 to Nashville on a Walker Zimmerman goal with half an hour left to play, América resurged like all big teams do and found not only an equalizer in the 78th minute, but even found a way to take the lead on a Julián Quiñones PK 4 minutes into stoppage time. It was another classic come from behind win (at least it was supposed to be) to add to this club’s already vast collection.
However, in the 90th + 8 minute, with a 2-1 lead, América lost the ball in Nashville territory with more than half of the team across midfield. Just 4 field players plus the keeper were left on their side of the pitch. And they ultimately got burned because of it. Nashville’s Dax McCarty got the ball and sent a long ball to Hany Mukhtar who inexplicably had gotten great positioning to easily receive the ball. We all know what happened after that, but the fact he was that open at that point to begin with is inexcusable. The defenders should’ve been all over him.
So there was botch #1, in case that wasn’t clear. Long ball to a wide open player with speed, allowing him to cross it in for an equalizing header 9 minutes into stoppage time. Yeah, definitely not what the defensive doctor ordered.
To make matters worse, in the absolute toss up that is a penalty shoot-out, the Mexican side managed to put themselves in position to win yet again. Into PK round #6, Nashville had defender Jack Maher at the spot. América had already scored their attempt, meaning if Maher missed, the game was over. The pressure was on, and the defender’s well placed, yet weakly taken shot was guessed correctly by keeper Malagón. That was supposed to be all she wrote.
However (again), VAR confirmed Malagón’s two feet were across the goal line before Maher touched the ball. I mean, when you practice this regularly and know that if you incur such a thing, the attempt is repeated, it kind of convinces you to make sure you don’t mess it up. Especially considering it makes no difference in whether or not you stop the shot. If his foot was on the line, he still would’ve stopped it. So, doing that gives you literally no advantage.
Botch #2. Both feet clearly over the line. Nothing else to see there.
Maher scored on the repeat, Jona Dos Santos immediately missed off the crossbar, and Lovitz confirmed the win by scoring his.
The issue isn’t losing in a PK shoot-out. It’s more the fact that there shouldn’t even have been a shoot-out to begin with, and on top of that, the fact América should’ve wrapped it up with that Malagón save. Another inexcusable mistake, this time by the keeper. No reason as to how or why Nashville now find themselves in the Leagues Cup QF.
This loss, along with Toluca’s and the Clásico Regio forcing another Mexican side ousting, confirmed 3 more Liga MX club exits in the Round of 16, leaving just 2 (Querétaro and Monterrey) alive in the cup. The QF round takes place on Friday in its entirety.