Will Leon move on? Or can America surprise the naysayers and overcome a 1-0 deficit to return to the finals?
A 1-0 lead can be an advantage or it can sneak up on you, depending what side of the score you are on. Leon is up one goal thanks to teen forward Jose Juan Macias who provided Leon with a slim cushion ahead of Sunday’s return leg against America.
The first leg was physical and America seemed to return to form after a disappointing performance in the second leg of their quarterfinal series against Cruz Azul. They came out showing they could stay toe-to-toe against the No. 1 seeded club.
Although they failed to score in the first leg “at home” in Queretaro (an air pollution contingency forced the game out of Mexico City), America showed they could cause fear when attacking the Esmeraldas. The Aguilas simply could not get the ball in the net.
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America will need powerful forward Nico Castillo and the elusive Roger Martinez to give Leon’s defense nightmares because the Aguilas need to score at least two goals. America probably needs to play a nearly flawless game at Estadio Leon if they hope to return to the Final and defend their title.
The regular season champs simply need to play just like they have played throughout the Clausura 2019. Veteran Rubens Sambueza – a former America star – made a significant contribution in the first leg, and his savvy and experience could be a key factor in preserving Leon’s advantage. In addition, the league’s top scorer, Angel Mena, is always poised to create offense and young Mexican striker Macias could team up to make this a high scoring game.
Let’s not overlook the Leon defense, the stingiest defense in the Liga MX. The back line has proven they are capable of clamping down the America attack (they shut out the Aguilas 3-0 in the regular season).
Leon will win at home and reaffirm why they were the league leaders. If Mena does not score, Macias could pick up the slack. And if they are held in check, look for Joel Campbell to come through. Leon will do whatever is necessary to win the game.