WFC: América punished for lackadaisical first half

SAN FRANCISCO — In their first game of the Herbalife World Football Challenge and their last one before beginning the Mexican season, the predominant theme came out of the Club América locker room following a 2-0 loss to Manchester City was that the team was lacking.

“We played against a great team,” said manager Carlos Reinoso after the match, "but we lacked intensity, we lacked creating chances in the first half, above all, we lacked touching the ball, moving it around the pitch more quickly, getting deep.”

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A lackluster first half from las Águilas cost them dearly. Manchester City’s Shaun Wright-Phillips burned past the defenders on the right side, Gaël Clichy got in deep on the left side to send cross after cross, and big target man Edin Dzeko worked his way around defenders without really being challenged.

América’s defense didn’t heed the warnings and were punished for their lackadaisical attitude twice in a span of 10 minutes. Ryan McGivern got the Citizens on the board in the 17th minute, burying a shot to the far post after coming up with the rebound, and Wright-Phillips added the second in the 27th minute with a shot from distance between two markers.

“It was a lapse of 10, 15 minutes that where two errors cost us two goals,” said goalkeeper Armando Navarrete, who could do nothing to prevent either goal. “That was our fault.”

Said forward Matías Vuoso, “They’re one of the best teams in the world. They’ve got players of tremendous quality. Sometimes against some teams you make mistakes and nothing happens, but against Manchester City, [they punish you].”

Reinoso, who after taking the reins of the club at the beginning of the year has tried to reinstate the high-flying attack América is known for, said he felt his men “came out as if it were just another training session, and that’s what I didn’t like.”

He let them know that at halftime.

“[I said] that we had to change our attitude in regards to taking the initiative and our determination, especially on defense,” the coach said. “We wanted to create all of our chances from the back. … We made two huge mistakes trying to play the ball in our box and that cannot be allowed.

América came out fired up in the second half, creating three good chances on goal in a span of six minutes, but big saves from Citizens second-half substitute goalie Stuart Taylor kept las Águilas off the board.

“We played a lot better [in the second half],” Reinoso said. “We had some scoring opportunities, but we didn’t finish them and you saw the result.”

The loss marks the final preseason match for América, who kick off their participation in the 2011 Apertura campaign next weekend. Despite the stumble, the manager says he’s liked what he’s seen so far from his team.

“It’s been a tough preseason,” Reinoso said. “It’s been 45 days away from home, working hard, and now we return home.

“We’re not far [from the level of where I want the team to be]. We played well [in the second half] in this game. We had the ball, we created chances, but we didn’t score. … We have to be a team that attacks, just how we’ll have to do in Mexico all season. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The three previous preseason games we played well and we’re close to where we want to be.”

América's next World Football Challenge match will be against Juventus on July 26. By then, Reinoso will hope his team is working the way he wants them to.