SAN FRANCISCO — When Carlos Reinoso took the reins of Club América in late January of this year, he did so with one purpose in mind: to reinstall the high-flying attack synonymous with the club. It’s an ideology he has preached — and has kept preaching — since Day 1.
“We’ve got to be an offensive team, aggressive,” the coach said after training at Kezar Stadium on Friday ahead of a World Football Challenge match against Manchester City on Saturday (8 pm ET, TeleFutura). “We’ve got to be a team that pressures the opposition on their half of the field.”
During the Apertura 2010 tournament, under the direction of former Mexico national team coach Miguel Lapuente, las Águilas exhibited an uncharacteristically flat offense as they finished the season with 22 goals in favor, 11 fewer than leaders Cruz Azul.
With results hard to come by, the club turned to club idol Reinoso — a former midfielder with a knack for goals who had donned América’s yellow and blue for nearly a decade in the 1970s — just three weeks into the Clausura 2011. The difference was like night and day.
Ámerica finished the campaign tied with Morelia for most goals (31) and attacking midfielder Ángel Reyna was the revelation of the tournament, scoring 13 times to take home the Primera División Golden Boot and parlaying it into a Mexico national team call-up for the Gold Cup.
With four preseason games in the bag — one tie and three wins, including one over the Portland Timbers — and a fifth and final one against Manchester City left before kicking off the new season in Mexico, Reinoso and his men will to look to stay on track.
“We’ve been working well,” Reinoso said. “The guys are giving in to an idea, a philosophy of being an offensive team that I think América has to go back to. They’re getting better every day and we’re happy [with our progress].”
América’s firepower, however, may not be at its strongest on Saturday against Manchester City. Reyna is out mending a broken toe suffered in the match against the Timbers and, according to Reinoso, new team captain Vicente Sánchez could be limited to 30 minutes of play as he tends to a leg injury incurred in a win against Mexican side Atlas on Wednesday.
With at least one of the two out of the starting lineup, and with Reinoso trying to give everybody minutes as América’s first game of the Mexican season looms on the horizon, las Águilas’ young faces and new reinforcements — including US international Edgar Castillo and Calexico, Calif., native Isaac Acuña — are likely to see plenty of time against the reigning FA Cup champs.
“Carlos wants the youngsters to debut and to start preparing themselves, so this game will help them showcase themselves and gain some confidence,” Sánchez said.
Whoever he puts on the AT&T Park pitch against Manchester City, Reinoso expects the same result.
“The game will be one between equals,” he said. “We’ve got to emerge the same way we did against Atlas, Morelia and [Portland]. We’ve got to take advantage of [the match vs. Man City] to go into league play on a high note.”