In a game that América and their manager Miguel Herrera knew they would have the lion’s share of possession, Las Aguilas failed to make their pressure count. América had more than five times as many shots as Toluca, 16 to 3, but only directed 5 of them on frame. While it is true that Toluca’s goal came against the run of play, la azulcrema should have been miles ahead of their visitors in the Estadio Azteca.
En un partido en que América y su entrenador Miquel Herrera sabían que tendrían la mayoria de posesión, las Aguilas no pudo hacer valer con su presión. América tenía más que cinco veces más tiros que Toluca, 16 a 3, pero sólo dirigió cinco al arco. Aunque es cierto que el gol de Toluca fue contra la corriente del juego, la azulcrema debería haber sido millas por delante de sus visitantes en el Estadio Azteca.
In Jornada 1, America lined up against Queretaro in a 3-4-1-2. Aquivaldo Mosquera was the sweeper, flanked by Reyes and Valenzuela. Aguilar and Rojas played wingbacks to add width to the side while Molina and Rosinei marshaled the center of the field. Rolfi Montenegro tucked in behind Bermúdez and Christian Chucho Benítez. This was a very attacking formation which allowed for wide play as well as centrally surging interplay between Rolfi and the strike partners.
Against Toluca, the side started in the same formation but failed to stretch the defensive cover of the Diablos Rojos. Toluca usually had 6 players behind the ball to snuff out every América attack. But instead of switching the point of attack, América continued to try to breach the Toluca defense through sheer power of will. On the few occasions when América did spray the ball out wide, the crosses played in were terrible and could not find the heads of the strikers or the open man on the far side.
The most frustrating thing for the azulcrema faithful will be the lack of focus in the final third. América’s lineup is nearly completely devoted to attacking play, but the players could not apply the finish on the end of their attractive runs. Late on in the match, when the play did open up, América could not connect on their forward rushes. The Aguilas play was always hurried ensuring their passes were not getting to the intended recipients and players quite often made the wrong choices with the ball at their feet. Many times in the last fifteen minutes of the game this meant pushing the through the middle of the field despite options to spread the point of attack out wide.
Even though there were players making runs out wide into open space, players elected to shoot from poor angles twenty five yards out instead of keeping the play alive. Patience was not there as América pushed on for the go-ahead goal and you could tell that the players were not calm on or off the ball. This was particularly evident when Aquivaldo Mosquera led a rush up the field late in the game and no one knew what he was going to do with the ball. The team just wasn’t on the same page. You could attribute this to the fact that Christian Bermúdez and Jose Cárdenas have not been at the club long enough to blend into the squad, but even América’s old guard looked confused on the field.
América was lucky with the penalty call. Flat out. The ball appeared to hit the crux of the shoulder and chest of Toluca defender Diego Novaretti but the referee controversially pointed to the spot. Goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera put on a show before the penalty kick could be taken which included a minute or so of yelling at the penalty taker and lots of strutting around designed to distract second half substitute Matías Vuoso. However after all the theatrics, in which Talavera yelled for the naturalized Mexican to shoot to the keeper’s left, Vuoso calmly dispatched the ball to that side as Talavera dove the other way.
Even though América fought to rescue a point from the game, they should have never been behind at home to Toluca. If the club is to finally regain the glory that seems so far away now, the 2005 Apertura and 2006 CONCACAF Champions’ Cup, they need to be clinical in front of goal. Chucho Benítez, Hobbit Bermúdez and Rolfi Montenegro are all very talented attacking players, but they can’t beat teams on athleticism or individual skill alone when their opposition lines up ultra-defensively. América needs to change the point of attack and open up space in behind their opponents’ back-lines in order to showcase the potency of their team going forward.