After winning their 13th title, America comes into the Liga MX Clausura 2019 as one of the favorites. They’ll have their work cut out for them, though, after their rivals made winter moves.
America ended the Liga MX Aperutra 2018 on a 17-game unbeaten streak. Las Aguilas came into La Liguilla as the 2nd seed, with more goals scored than any other club. Despite this, their route to the title was anything but simple. They struggled to get rid of Toluca in the opening round and then drew with Pumas UNAM in the first leg of the next round. Their conservative approach led many to believe Pumas had a shot to advance into the final, but a 6-1 drubbing came out of nowhere to catapult Club America into a Clasico Joven final with Cruz Azul.
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Cruz Azul and America had played to a goalless draw earlier in the season, and the first leg was more of the same. Neither team could break the deadlock, and America ended up losing Mateus Uribe and Roger Martinez to injury for the second leg. As a result, Edson Alvarez came into the starting lineup for the second leg and became the hero. His two goals were enough to put Cruz Azul away and hand America their 13th Liga MX title.
The days following the victory have seen rumors of Diego Lainez’s departure confirmed by the club, though it’s unclear where he’ll end up. Liguilla hero Alvarez has also been subject to rumors, though it seems he’ll be with the team after the winter window.
Other than losing Lainez and Joe Corona (end of his loan from Tijuana), the club looks like it will be largely the same as it was in the Apertura. Las Aguilas haven’t brought anyone into the squad and neither of their main departures where regular starters. They may get Jeremey Menez back from injury soon, and the club has been rumored to be looking for another striker in the transfer window, but it seems they are content to take on their opponents with the team that ground their way to the title.
Meanwhile, their Final opponent, Cruz Azul gained Jona Rodriguez from Santos Laguna and Orbelin Pineda from Chivas to bolster their attack. Pachuca signed Victor Davila from Necaxa to pair with Victor Guzman. America gave up just 17 goals in the Apertura prior to Liguilla, but additions like these to their opponents could make repeating that feat more difficult.
Still, America is certain to be in the top four of most predictions for the season. Roger Martinez and Mateus Uribe seemed to come along before their injuries, so perhaps Las Aguilas have enough firepower with them and Renato Ibarra to repeat as champions. It’s certainly not going to come easy, though.