It’s lucky 13 for Club America after they disposed of Cruz Azul with two Edson Alvarez goals to win the Liga MX Apertura 2018.
It was a pretty amazing weekend for Americanistas. After seeing their Sub-17 and Liga MX Femenil teams lift the trophies for their respective leagues on Saturday, the Club America men’s first team made it three of three on Sunday night.
Through 180 minutes of play between the two sides in the 2018 Apertura, Cruz Azul and Club America had a grand total of zero goals. Both teams had been stingy defensively all year and now, in the most important match of their seasons, they would rely on them even heavier. Miguel Herrera rolled out a starting eleven that was without Mateus Uribe and Roger Martinez, due to injuries in the first leg. Their absence provided the opportunity for Edson Alvarez to make his was back into the starting lineup, playing in midfield.
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Meanwhile, Pedro Caixinha’s group featured both Martin Cauteruccio and Milton Caraglio up front and relegated Roberto Alvarado to the bench for the first half. It was a surprising move for Los Cementeros, especially since neither Caraglio or Cauteruccio impressed in the first leg.
Similar approaches and well-matched personnel saw the goal-less deadlock hold through 45 more minutes, as neither team wanted to be the one to make the first mistake in the first half. Neither team looked particularly comfortable or in control, either. America saw most of the possession in the first half, but like Cruz Azul, looked a bit hampered by the turf at Estadio Azteca. Still both teams struggled to generate offense, with just three total shots being taken in the half, all coming from America.
The 2nd half started with Alvarado coming on for Cauteruccio. Whether that was the intention all along or not, it seemed Caixinha recognized the need for the 20-year-old Mexican midfielder to bring another creative option to the Cruz Azul attack. It seemed to do the trick, but they would unfortunately need it more than ever after Edson Alvarez found the first goal between the two clubs, 51 minutes into the match.
Diego Lainez had just taken a shot that went wide of the goal and out for a goal kick. With bodies all around, Chuy Corona decided to quick-play a ball to Ivan Marcone. He didn’t seem ready for it and, noticing Oribe Peralta closing in, fumbled and lost it to the veteran Aguila. Peralta gave it a tap over to young Edson Alvarez, who dribbled to the top of the box and fired a beautiful strike to the right of Corona, curling it behind him to give Las Aguilas the 0-1 lead.
Rattled but not out, Cruz Azul would do see their most recent sub create a chance on the other end. Alvarado showed some nifty footwork and stuck with the ball through a number of defenders to get a pass off to Edgar Mendez in the box. Rather than shooting it directly from the pass, he tried to dribble a bit closer and ultimately the chance came to nothing.
America sat back and invited pressure, yet again, but this time, they did better to push the ball forward and be patient in the Cruz Azul half of the pitch. They allowed Cruz Azul to have 65% possession in the 2nd half, but were able to generate eight shots on target in with the 35% of the time they held the ball.
A Renato Ibarra chance in the 65th minute looked like it would seal the game for Las Aguilas, but Chuy Corona was up to the task to keep Los Cementeros alive. Cruz Azul wouldn’t get a shot on target in the 2nd half, however, and in the 90th minute, Edson Alvarez sealed the deal with his second goal of the match. A long ball over the top fell to Cecilio Dominguez, whose shot was stopped by Corona. The rebound fell to Alvarez, though, who made not mistake with it, and the party was on.
It wasn’t always the prettiest futbol, but it got the job done and now Club America can stake the claim as the best club in Mexican soccer. Their 13 titles are the most of any club in Mexico, breaking their tie with CD Guadalajara.
The club will certainly undergo some changes, now, with rumors linking Diego Lainez to Ajax this winter and now, perhaps Edson Alvarez will see his star rise, as well. There has also been some speculation that Piojo Herrera could be coaxed to LA Galaxy before the MLS season starts in March. That is all for another time, though. The Clausura 2019 starts in less than three weeks, so Las Aguilas can enjoy this title for a little while longer before getting right back into the grind of Liga MX play.
Now they can bask in the glory of a 13th title. Now they can enjoy a joint parade with the Femenil team. Enjoy your victory Americanistas! It will be time to do it all again very soon.