On Wednesday, March 11 Las Aguilas will host MLS side Atlanta United in the Quarterfinals of the Concacaf Champion’s League. America will be looking for revenge after last year’s loss to Atlanta in the Campeones Cup at the Mercedes Benz Stadium.
Referee: John Pitti
Club America looks to make another run in the Concacaf Champion’s League, a tournament that the club is very familiar with winning. The Mexico City Giant’s have won this tournament 7 times including back to back wins in 2015 and 2016.
Club America currently sits in 3rd place of the Liga MX Clausura 2020. Las Aguilas have had a season full of ups and downs. The defense at times looks very solid and at times they’re making childish mistakes that have cost them leads like the one against Pumas on Friday.
Miguel Herrera will have his hands full on Wednesday but will be happy to know that he will be able to get Bruno Valdez and Santiago Caseres back after they were suspended for the game against Pumas.
Roger Martinez is back with the team and will be available on the bench in case Miguel Herrera wants to use him
Sebastian Caceres is still recovering from a procedure in his meniscus.
Renato Ibarra will not be available because of the legal problems he is currently facing.
Atlanta United come into this match in good form. The team has won their first two MLS games of the season. In the CONCACAF Champion’s League, Atlanta United is coming off a solid 4-1 victory over FC Motagua.
Atlanta United has been decimated by injuries just as much as Club America has. Laurence Wyke who had made his debut two weeks ago and has his first start vs Cincinnati FC will miss this game with a concussion.
Franco Escobar who Wyke replaced on his debut will also miss this game with a dead leg.
Former America player Edgar Castillo is also expected to miss this game with a rib injury. Castillo has been practicing but without contact.
Josef Martinez will be the big absence for the Atlanta United after he suffered a torn ACL in the opening week of the MLS.
The team acquired another striker in search of the Martinez replacement with J.J Williams being brought in from Birmingham
Miguel Herrera vs Frank de Boer
The Azteca scores the first one is a quote that many Americanistas use when the team needs a goal in an important game. It is no secret that America can turn into a different kind of force when they are playing at home. The question is what will America do when the Azteca scores the first?
America has had a problem keeping and protecting leads and most times the fans blame Miguel Herrera. On many occasions, it seems like the substitutions or the reading of the game are not working for Miguel Herrera. In the game vs Pumas last week as soon as Herrera tried to change the formation to protect the lead, the team immediately conceded two goals. Against FC Juarez he waited too long to substitute and adjust and when he finally did the team had already conceded.
Miguel Herrera has struggled against MLS teams in the past, and that raises one of the biggest concerns for this game. The worst thing that America can do is score a goal and try to protect the lead because it is something the team has struggled with in the past.
America has won 4 games this season with a clean sheet but the truth is many of those results were masked by great Guillermo Ochoa performances. Ochoa will not be the starter for this game therefore America can not only rely on Oscar Jimenez. The forwards are going to have to take some responsibility away from the defense and try to carry the team.
On the other hand, you have Frank de Boer an experienced manager who has made an instant impact on the Atlanta United team. De Boer completed his 50th match as manager of Atlanta this weekend, with a record of 30 wins, 14 losses, and 5 draws. The numbers are very good even compared to the numbers former Atlanta coach and current Mexico national Team Coach Tata Martino had on his first 50 games for Atlanta. ( 22 wins, 14 losses, 14 draws.)
One of the doubts going into the game is how de Boer will lineup on Wednesday, ever since the Josef Martinez injury the team has changed to a back 3 formation. The problem with the back 3 formations is that Atlanta United is down to only 3 healthy defenders, one of those defenders is 18 years old George Campbell who made his debut last weekend vs Cincinnati.
This will be a very tactical battle between to proven managers, both managers will have to get their tactics right and properly adjust as the match goes on.
Andres Ibarguen vs George Campbell
Andres Ibarguen was announced as a starter by Miguel Herrera on Wednesday. This comes as a surprise because it seemed as if Ibarguen had lost his spot due to the impressive moment that Sebastian Cordova is having. Ibarguen has been very inconsistent throughout his Club America career. On his day he can be unstoppable and a serious threat but we all know that doesn’t happen often.
Despite Ibarguen’s inconsistency, the Colombian winger is the exact type of player that can cause the Atlanta United defense many problems. A player that is not only fast but very technical with the ability to open up the game and take on players.
It can be expected for Ibarguen to be the main outlet for Las Aguilas, but most importantly I expected him to appear in that space between the right wing-back and the right center-back. A space that will be there to be exploited, and it is a space where Ibarguen is most dangerous.
George Campbell is one of Atlanta’s homegrown players, that have had to step up to the first team because of injuries. The 18-year-old Pennsylvania native will play possibly the biggest game of his young career on Wednesday.
George Campbell is a very strong and physical defender but Ibarguen is a very elusive player. Campbell is going to have to get his timing right when going against Ibarguen, his tackles will have to be on point because the last thing he wants to do is pick up an early yellow and be at a disadvantage for the rest of the match.
Jorge Sanchez vs Ezequiel Barco
Jorge Sanchez continues to fight for his spot in the starting lineup. The 22-year-old Mexican defender will get the chance to start vs Atlanta United in his natural position as a right-back.
Sanchez is a player that is very solid going forward and a very good defender, with a good pace, and very decent skills. The problem with Sanchez is that at times he gets lost and makes childish mistakes, he is not the only one on this team, as America has been suffering from this a lot this season.
Sanchez will have a very tough matchup on Wednesday as he goes up against one of the most exciting young players in MLS, Ezequiel Barco. The 20-year-old Argentinian is a very talented player and has been one of the players to step up in the absence of Josef Martinez.
Ezequiel Barco has score two goals in the first two MLS games of the season. Despite getting on the score sheet on the first two games being a natural goal scorer is not one of Barco’s strengths.
Barco is a playmaker, great with the ball on his feet and can play very good deep balls, something that gave America so much trouble vs Pumas last week. I expect Barco to drop down to receive the ball very often and from there try to link up with the always dangerous Gonzalo Martinez.
Ezequiel Barcos’s ability to move around the field is something America as a unit will have to be on the lookout for. Barco only needs one moment to create a chance that can change the game.
Will you be tuning in tonight to watch America take on Atlanta?