America coach Miguel Herrera is not one to shy away from confrontation or controversy. What he thinks is what comes out of his mouth and on Friday, he was clearly puzzled at the squad Mexico coach Victor Manuel Vucetich named from the week’s training session in Mexico City.
In particular, Herrera was affronted to find out that Miguel Layun and Raul Jimenez were the only America players in Vucetich’s squad. And neither is considered likely to start the vital World Cup qualifiers against Panama and Costa Rica.
“On this occasion he called two, I think America has more than two players capable of playing for the national team,” stated Herrera, who was a strong candidate to take over the Mexico job from Jose Manuel de la Torre. “We’d like to be the base (of El Tri).”
It is difficult not to agree. The reigning Liga MX champion has been dominant this season and there was almost a sense in Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Chiapas that certain players – Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez, Paul Aguilar, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Juan Carlos Medina, Rubens Sambueza, Luis Mendoza, Jesus Molina – as well as Herrera were out to prove a point.
The result was another comprehensive performance capped with goals from Layun and Sambueza that were of utmost quality. Liga MX surprise package Chiapas were brushed aside with consummate ease when confronted by the confident America.
Sometimes numbers and statistics don’t tell the full story in sport, but in the case of America’s dominance of the Apertura, they go a long way.
Las Aguilas are perched on top of Liga MX with two games in hand on the teams around them, having won seven of their first nine games of the season. The team has scored 21 goals and let in just eight, with a goal difference of plus-13.
If America can keep up its form over the remaining eight games, the Mexico City club will come close to breaking its own league record of 43 points, set in the Apertura 2002 when each team played two more games per season.
With the balance in the team and the chemistry between Herrera and his players, it may not be beyond America, considering that the team’s form is no longer a good run, but something that has been consistent all year.
The club’s record in 2013 reads 32 games played, 20 wins, seven ties and just five losses.
The key to America’s run has been the Estadio Azteca, which seems to be having a negative effect at the moment on the national team. America has lost only once in 16 at home in 2013 – and that was with the team already qualified for the playoffs – and tied three others.
Looking ahead to America's remaining games, and really only Cruz Azul away and Tigres away that look legitimately difficult, but you wouldn’t bet against America in any game at present.
It’s rare that a team is so dominant in the topsy-turvy world of Mexican soccer, and America is once again the team to beat as it seeks a rare back-to-back title challenge.