Tom Marshall: Club America ready for title challenge

The Aguilas have the look of a championship contender, and that should be enough to satisfy their notoriously demanding fans
Americanistas are a rare breed of soccer fan.

Supporters of the club based at the southern end of Mexico City demand entertainment, style, flashy players, as well as the three points. There’s a borderline arrogance that comes with being an America fan. A popular slogan on fan T-shirts reads, “Hate me some more.”

It’s in that context that sporting president Ricardo Pelaez’s deals to bring in Narciso Mina, Maza Rodrgiuez and Osvaldo Martinez are evaluated by fans.

In any other Liga MX club, the signings would’ve been greeted with warm applause.

Not in America.

Americanistas brought up with the legends of Zague, Carlos Reinoso and Cuauhtemoc Blanco wanted names like Diego Forlan, Diego Lugano or Giovani Dos Santos to arrive at the club.

Yet America’s business in the offseason was in line with a big club building for a genuine title push, not necessarily to create headlines for headlines sake.

The new faces have added to the competition for places that will be vital this Clausura tournament.

Martinez and Mina will fight for places in the attacking positions, while 31-year-old Rodriguez, captain of El Tri and a much-improved player since he left Chivas, will add a wealth of experience at the back. It is an exceptional signing of a player that is arguably in his prime, even if his Chivas past won’t endear him immediately to America fans.

Aside from the players the club brought in, getting rid of Daniel Montenegro and Rosinei was shrewd. Each one is highly talented and may well go on to enjoy future success, but they were high profile names that hadn’t lived up to the hype.

Handing coach Miguel Herrera a new contract was also wise.

It’s easy to forget that when he took over in November 2011, America had won just two of its previous 16 league games and had finished the 2011 Apertura season in 17th position.

Herrera has helped turned the club around and his record after 43 league games in charge reads 21 victories, 13 draws and nine losses. In 2012, the club won more regular season points than any other Liga MX side.

Now that “el Piojo” Herrera is in his third season with the club and has had time to shape his squad, America fans will accept nothing less than the title or a final as the minimum goal.

On paper, it shouldn’t be beyond the team.

There is a strong argument that Club America has the best squad, player for player, in the Liga MX this season. There is an excellent balance in the squad and a nice blend of experience and youth.

Saturday’s 2-1 home victory against Monterrey wasn’t the fluid, fast-flowing and decisive victory America fans tend to demand, but the last minute penalty from Rubens Sambueza handed the team a vital three points against a team it hadn’t defeated in 11 attempts.

On the bench were players like Hobbit Bermudez, Rodriguez, Efrain Juarez, Tony Lopez and Mina – players that would walk into most Liga MX sides.

The performance might not have matched the lofty and often unrealistic expectations of an America team, but Aguilas fans should be grateful for their status as one of the favorites for this season’s title.

Chivas fans are currently looking over with a large degree of envy.

Follow TOM MARSHALL on  or shoot him an email