San Luis wins and, suddenly, América can’t win a game

MONTERREY, MEXICO - JANUARY 26: Players of America react after the 4th round match between Monterrey and America as part of the Torneo Clausura 2019 Liga MX at BBVA Bancomer Stadium on January 26, 2019 in Monterrey, Mexico. (Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images)
MONTERREY, MEXICO - JANUARY 26: Players of America react after the 4th round match between Monterrey and America as part of the Torneo Clausura 2019 Liga MX at BBVA Bancomer Stadium on January 26, 2019 in Monterrey, Mexico. (Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Atlético San Luis avenges last week’s 1-0 Copa MX loss at Estadio Azteca, defeats América 2-0.

In order to prevent the writing of premature obituaries, América’s 2-0 loss at San Luis does not do great damage to the Aguilas chances of advancing to the Copa MX knockout round. It was a shocker, true enough, but coach Miguel Herrera won’t panic since he only used 6 starters and subbed two of them out.

América has now lost two games in a row (Monterrey stopped the Aguilas’ 23-game unbeaten streak on Saturday night and now the Tuneros stopped América’s 7-game Cup unbeaten streak), and did not resemble a top first division team as the reigning Ascenso MX champs claimed all 3 points in the Group 4 contest but still trails “Los Azulcrema” which has 6 points after 3 matches.

Necaxa also has 3 points in the group, but from only 2 matches and the Rayos visit América at Estadio Azteca on Feb. 5. The Aguilas can clinch the top seed in the group with a win. Necaxa will also host Atlético San Luis in the final matchday of the group, so the Rayos also hold their destiny in their own hands … or their own feet, to be literal.

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The Tuneros deserved the victory, playing without fear and exhibiting tremendous discipline on defense. The home team won rather easily despite a plethora of turnovers and sloppy play, including an embarrassing face-plant by Leandro Torres. The Argentine midfielder carried the ball down the right flank with 15 minutes remaining, tried to put a crossover move on Aguilas left back Carlos Vargas when he got his feet crossed and stepped on top of the ball, sending him face-first into the turf and Vargas dribbling in the other direction.

San Luis took the lead less than a half hour into the match when Diego Pineda dribbled wide down the left flank and zipped a cross into the box where it was deflected by América defender Emanuel Aguilera. The ball caromed to San Luis’ Orlando Sánchez near the penalty spot but his errant left-footer had the good fortune of ricocheting off Vargas and past startled keeper Agustín Marchesín.

América just simply couldn’t create good scoring chances despite possession in the San Luis half. Shortly after halftime, the Tuneros doubled their lead.

Leandro Torres dispossessed Aguilera near the touch line, circled the América defender into the box and rifled a low cross that striker Diego Pineda trapped with his trailing foot while falling to the ground. The 23-year-old managed to control the ball as Jorge Sánchez race in frying to clear it, only to whiff. Pineda regained his feet and slotted home easily at the back post.

There were still 38 minutes remaining in the game, but the Aguilas simply could not generate any offense.

The lack of scoring highlights América’s desire to add attackers to the roster, which has been hit by injuries and attrition. Earlier in the day, management announced the signing of 21-year-old Colombian striker Nicolás Benedetti. The Aguilas were also still negotiating with Chile striker Nico Castillo, a former star with the Pumas who now plays for Benfica.

The winter transfer window officially closes on Thursday afternoon at 5 p.m. Mexico City time.

Other Copa MX action

New Pumas coach Bruno Marioni started off his term on the right foot as UNAM defeated Atlas 2-1 at Estadio Jalisco in a Group 9 match. Zorros midfielder Osvaldo Martínez put the home team ahead in minute 53 with a penalty conversion, but Carlos González returned from injury row to score the equalizer 3 minutes later. Defender Alejandro Arribas knocked home the winner in minute 84 to make up for the fact that he had committed the penalty.

UNAM fired coach David Patiño after the Pumas lost on Saturday to Pachuca. Marioni was a star scorer with the Pumas team that won both the Clausura 2004 and Apertura 2004 titles under the tutelage of Hugo Sánchez.

In other Cup matches, Guadalajara now has a 2-game winless streak after its 1-1 tie against second division Cimarrones. The Chivas saw their perfect start to the New Year (5 wins in 5 games) come to an end on Sunday, losing 1-0 at Santos Laguna. Despite Wednesday’s tie, the Chivas sit comfortably atop Group 8 with 7 points from 3 games.

In Oaxaca, the host Alebrijes tied León 1-1 by scoring on the final play of the match and are now tied with León atop the Group 5 standings with 4 points, 1 more than reigning Copa MX champion Cruz Azul which has played one less match. The Cementeros visit León next Wednesday with the chance to leapfrog both teams.

Elsewhere, visiting Juárez defeated second-division rival Tampico Madero 1-0 to clinch the top seed in Group 2. In Group 6, the Correcaminos and the UAEM Potros settled for a 2-2 draw that strengthened Morelia’s spot in first place.

Liga MX clubs Veracruz and Lobos BUAP played to a scoreless draw which provides second division Zacatepec a clear chance to clinch first place in Group 7. And finally, Zacatecas defeated the visiting Dorados of Sinaloa to forge a three-way tie in Group 3 with Querétaro as all three teams have 3 points after each team played 2 games.