America's attack comes up empty as Tigres snatch control of series

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Pedro Pardo
Las Aguilas failed to score in the Estadio Azteca on Wednesday night and will need a serious reversal to move on to the Liga MX final

In three playoff games, America has scored zero playoff goals.

Las Aguilas scored in five consecutive league matches in the regular season. They average1.35 goals a match over the 17-week campaign. Yet the club's attack lately has been well below average in multiple respects.

Some of the team's analysis of Wednesday's 1-0 first leg defeat to Tigres will focus on a penalty decision that was harsh on the home side. Bruno Valdez slid to deny a cross and ended up with his hand up in error. When Enner Valencia's cross did come, it hit Valdez' arm in what would've been an impressive handball had it been intentional but looked to be pure chance. The whistle blew and Juninho buried the chance to send the series to Monterrey with his team up on the scoreboard. 

America can have legitimate beef with the decision, but coach Miguel Herrera has nobody to blame but his own team for its attacking deficiencies. Herrera's men actually were able to keep a fair amount of the possession against Tigres, a rarity against a side coached by Tuca Ferretti. But they did relatively little with it. Tigres more than doubled America's shot total (18-8) and the home side didn't put a single shot on Nahuel Guzman's goal.

Herrera had benched Silvio Romero, who clearly was off the mark in the previous series against Cruz Azul, and tried to put the pressure on Ferretti's side with Ecuadorian winger Renato Ibarra, teenager Diego Lainez and 21-year-old Alejandro Diaz entering as his substitutes. Whether experienced or veteran, homegrown or foreign, no America player was able to set themselves up for a dangerous opportunity or feed forwards Oribe Peralta or Darwin Quintero.

Midfielder Mateus Uribe had one of the better efforts of the night, trying to put a bicycle kick into the back of the net but sending it wide of the goal Guzman was defending. That is what America had been reduced to - trying to find something spectacular.

Tigres were something of the opposite, converting the penalty but failing to finish off other opportunities they generated. Agustin Marchesin made two saves, including a reflex stop on a deflected corner kick that threatened to end the series. Instead, as it stands, America could even things up quickly if it can score in the second leg and match the number of away goals Tigres scored. The issue is that the team has given no indication that will happen. Even a 1-0 win in El Volcan, where Tigres are yet to lose this season, wouldn't be enough. It's been 10 matches since America scored multiple goals. 

Word came out Wednesday that Peralta is seeking a long contract extension. Herrera returned to Mexico City with a reputation for getting the team out of tough situations. Each will need to earn their pay for America to overcome this nasty scoring drought and get into the semifinals. 

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