ARLINGTON, Texas — The 2011 Herbalife World Football Challenge will be one to forget for Mexican giants Club América, who dropped all three of their matches and failed to score a single goal in this summer’s tournament. The latest shutout came at Cowboys Stadium with a 2-0 loss to European champions FC Barcelona.
América’s scoring issues are not for lack of opportunities, however. Forwards Vicente Sánchez and Christian Benítez each had two golden chances to get las Águilas on the board but they came up short at the crucial moments in the second half.
“The team once again missed out on the most important thing in soccer which is scoring,” América manager Carlos Reinoso told reporters Saturday’s match. “We alone caused ourselves the problems. When we improve our scoring, with the play we generate on the field, we’re going to be a tough team.”
América’s timing appeared to be slightly off kilter as Barcelona held a high back line, resulting in multiple offsides calls that only increased América’s level of frustration.
Sánchez, the Mexican side’s captain, was presented with two chances in a three-minute span early in the second half. In the 55th minute, he collected a wild back pass by a Barcelona midfielder but goalkeeper Víctor Valdés was up to the task. Two minutes later, he had the inside edge on a Barcelona defender as teammate Juan Carlos Medina lofted a pass which met him in stride, but Valdés was there again to foil the Uruguayan with a low save.
“The goal scorers are not putting it in,” Reinoso said. “The people who score goals on this team like Benítez and Vicente are not on their game but we hope in the league they get better in this.”
Benítez, the Ecuadorean international who is also América’s high-profile summer signing, had two good looks in the waning minutes of the match but he was imprecise with his first attempt and failed to get a clean shot off with the second.
Saturday’s 2-0 loss only compounded América’s scoring issues after previously losing to Italian side Juventus (1-0) and the English Premier League’s Manchester City (2-0). The results in the WFC are a reflection of their scoring woes in the Mexican league where they have just four goals in three matches including two own goals.
It was evident again in Wednesday’s 2-1 home loss to Estudiantes Tecos in Mexico, during which finishing issues resurfaced.
“The other day against Tecos we generated five chances in the first 45 minutes and we only put one in and we caused ourselves problems,” Reinoso said. “Today we generated chances but we didn’t find the goal.”
Reinoso indicated that he expects improvement once the team can spend a full week together on the training grounds, which has proven difficult in recent weeks. He also pointed to fitness and physical issues that will need to be overcome by the club’s players who participated in the recently concluded Copa America.
América right back Paul Aguilar, who was called up by the Mexican national team to face the USA in an international friendly on Wednesday in Philadelphia, tried to see some good in the losing effort against Barcelona.
“No one likes losing,” he said, “but we had an improvement in attitude and aggressiveness and we generated many scoring chances. The fact that we’re lacking scoring is a reality but we have to highlight the positives.”