Club America CONCACAF Champions League Preview

LEG 1 - Feb 23: Seattle vs Club América

LEG 2 - Mar 2: Club América vs Seattle

Playing in the Mexican capital of Mexico City, Club America are one of Liga MX’s most storied and successful clubs. They are also one of the most successful clubs in continental competition, having won the previous CONCACAF Champions League tournament as well as five previous titles when the tournament was known as the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup.

Club America are also one of the more competitive clubs in recent Liga MX history, despite having seven different managers over the past five years. The side won their 11th title in the 2013 Clausura under Miguel Herrera, who then went on to coach the Mexican national team. Las Aguilas also took the 2014 Apertura under manager Antonio “Turco” Mohamed, whose contract was not renewed after winning the title due to a playing style that was perceived as unentertaining to fans.

Even when things on the pitch at the Azteca are not entertaining, the club itself, owned by Mexican television giants Televisa, will always remain entertaining. Gustavo Matosas, the manager who succeeded Mohamed, was reportedly hired before Mohamed had left the role. Matosas parted ways with Club America a year later due to a reported dispute over player transfers. Current manager, Ignacio “Nacho” Ambriz, took over for Matosas and has been under fire ever since, especially after a meltdown in the 2015 Apertura playoffs that included two red cards and resulted in the trending hashtag #FueraAmbriz on social media. Such is the manager’s life under the watchful eye of the club’s supporters, the Americanistas, who expect their club to not only win the title every season but entertain while doing it.

Club America currently feature some of the more prominent attackers in Liga MX and on the continent, including club captain Rubens Sambueza, Mexican international Oribe Peralta, and South Americans Dario Benedetto, Andres “Rifle” Andrade, William da Silva and Darwin Quintero.

3 Stars

  • Rubens Sambueza – The Argentinian born, naturalized Mexican, Sambueza is an attacking midfielder most notable for his wizardry with his left foot. A capable creator as well as finisher, he also has excellent close control which helps him dribble out of danger with relative ease. The only knock on Sambueza is that he can occasionally drift in and out of games and will drop deep to find the ball when the ball isn’t finding him.
  • Oribe Peralta – Peralta, now 32, led the line for Mexico’s Olympic gold medal team in 2012 and again in the 2014 World Cup. Peralta is known for his movement off the ball as a one of Liga MX’s best goal poachers, but he also possesses good technique and can link up with other players when needed.
  • Dario Benedetto – Argentinian striker Benedetto, known as “Pipa”, is a handful for any defense because of his versatility. Capable of finishing from all over the pitch, Benedetto also has the pace and ability to drift by defenders with the ball creating opportunities for his strike partner as well as himself. He is also capable in the air and will also pitch in pressing the ball. However, Benedetto is currently mired in a slump in form and remains goalless in 2016.

Tactical Look

Club America have favored a 4-4-2 under current manager Ambriz. Las Aguilas tend to favor a high energy, pressing style, which looks to win the ball back and switch it into attack as quickly as possible. Their dynamic playmakers, specifically Sambueza, encourage a more fluid style, which can see wide players routinely switching sides or linking up with one another. It is not unusual to see the side imbalanced, especially with right back Paul Aguilar in the side. Aguilar (not to be confused with center back Pablo Aguilar) can be a key cog in the attack and will push higher up on the right flank while the left back stays deep in a more defensive position.

The aggressive style is not without its faults. Sides with capable counter attacks have been able to expose the America defense, although this can be easier said than done given the club's wealth of attacking options.

Starting XI

  • GK: Moises Munoz
  • RB: Paul Aguilar
  • CB: Paolo Goltz
  • CB: Pablo Aguilar
  • LB: Osmar Mares
  • RM: Rubens Sambueza
  • CM: William da Silva
  • CM: Osvaldo Martinez
  • LM: Michael Arroyo
  • F: Oribe Peralta
  • F: Dario Benedetto

CCL History

As previously mentioned, Club America are current champions of the CCL after they defeated the Montreal Impact by an aggregate score of 5-3.

2013-14: Group Stage
2014-15: Champions

Projection

Club America have a strong squad of players with which to draw on for the competition even if they do not field a first team, and they will be facing a Seattle Sounders side still in preseason. Now with the rumored departure of Obafemi Martins, it is tough to envision the Sounders providing an attack strong enough to break down America’s occasionally suspect defense. With the second leg played at the Azteca, it is hard to look past Club America to go through to the semifinals.