Liga MX: Club America to be tested by strong Toluca side

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - OCTOBER 27: Andres Ibarguen of America reacts during a 14th round match between Cruz Azul and America as part of Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX at Azteca Stadium on October 27, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Jam Media/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - OCTOBER 27: Andres Ibarguen of America reacts during a 14th round match between Cruz Azul and America as part of Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX at Azteca Stadium on October 27, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Jam Media/Getty Images) /

America’s road to retain the top spot of the Liga MX table doesn’t get any easier when Toluca visits Estadio Azteca.

Sitting atop the Liga MX table, America continues their stretch of matches against Liguilla teams. Last week, it was Cruz Azul. Next week, it’s Santos Laguna. This week, Las Aguilas take on Toluca.

Toluca sit 5th in the table on 25 points, just three points behind America and Santos. Los Diablos are 2nd in the league with 26 goals on the year and, despite their five losses on the year, are tied with the top three clubs with eight wins. Toluca is also tied for the league-lead in red cards (4) and leads in yellows (41) on the year. That lack of discipline has been partly why they are where they are in the table, but indicates a much stronger team than some may realize.

Last Match

Club America: D @ Cruz Azul 0-0

Playing as the away side in their home stadium, America played Cruz Azul to a goalless draw. Neither side provided much excitement, with 14 total shots and just two on target combined between the two teams. Chatter on Twitter gave the “better looking team” title to Cruz Azul, but Club America took more of the typically looked-at stats. It was a good match between two of the best teams in Liga MX, however, and America, after taking over 1st place, were likely more pleased with the draw than Cruz Azul.

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Toluca: W v Queretaro 4-0

I don’t know if this caused the kind of buzz it maybe should have. Toluca hosted the second best defense in Liga MX, in terms of goals allowed, and completely smashed it. Luis Mendoza scored 13 minutes into the match to get things started. Thirteen minutes later Edson Puch was given a yellow card and then a second yellow for arguing and was sent off the pitch. Los Gallos Blancos did well with 10-men for the remainder of the 1st half, but after the halftime break, Toluca took care of business. Osvaldo Gonzalez scored in the 53rd minute, followed by a Luis Mendoza goal for his brace in the 58th, then Alexis Vega put a bow on the match with Los Diablos’ 4th goal of the match. Even with 10 men, Queretaro is a tough defense to break down. Toluca did so with relative ease, signalling good things for the club heading into Liguilla

Predicted Lineups

Club America: 4-4-2

Aguilar – Valdez – Aguilera – Reyes
Renato – Rodriguez – Uribe – Ibarrguen
Peralta – Martin

Another week, another underwhelming performance from Roger Martinez. It may well be that Piojo Herrera is asking him to do different things than we might be expecting, but the fact remains that they seem to still be searching for a solution at the striker position. I expect Henry Martin to start this match along with Oribe Peralta returning to the lineup in his typical role. Peralta is likely to come in for Diego Lainez, which many expected to happen last week. My reasoning for inserting him into the lineup this week is the physicality of Toluca. Peralta is better equipped to handle that physicality, with Lainez coming on later if Las Aguilas need a spark. Jorge Sanchez is replaced by Luis Reyes, with Sanchez out for the next six weeks with a fracture in his left hand.

Toluca: 4-4-2

Salinas – Gonzalez – Tobio – Garcia
Mendoza – Rios – da Silva – Quinones
Vega – Canelo

Toluca will still be without their captain, Ruebens Sambueza, who is still serving his red card suspension from their 2-1 loss to Monterrey.  He’s been a big player for them, but Los Diablos have the players to thrive, anyway. Luis Mendoza and Alexis Vega in particular have been excellent as of late and should be a hand-full for the America defense.

Key Players

Club America: Mateus Uribe. I’m going to call Uribe underwhelming since September. For many, that’s an understatement. Most notably, having his would-be Clasico-winning penalty saved against Chivas set him on a more dramatic downward trajectory and the Colombian hasn’t really regained the form he’s shown that gained him a spot on his national team. Uribe needs to step up in this match against a very good Toluca side by assisting Guido Rodriguez in stopping Toluca’s midfield and helping in the creation of chances on the offensive end.

Toluca: Luis Mendoza.  It feels a bit like low-hanging fruit to pick the guy coming off a brace, but here we are. Mendoza has been playing on the right, which lines up to face Andres Ibarguen and Luis Reyes, if my lineup prediction is correct. Reyes is a solid left-back but hasn’t appeared in a match since September 6th against Lobos BUAP, when he left the match in the 16th minute due to injury. Mendoza is in a great position to take advantage of any rust Reyes may have.


As I work through this preview, I find myself remembering why I picked Toluca to win the Apertura at the beginning of the season. If they can keep 11 men on the pitch, they are one of the more talented teams in Mexico. America is top of the table for a reason, but Toluca is kind of flying under the radar at the moment, it seems. This is a must-see match-up.

America 2 – Toluca 2