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America get CCL win with key players resting – ESPN FC (blog)


Club America’s Osvaldo Martinez, left, and Deyver Vega of Deportivo Saprissa compete for the ball during their quarterfinal game of the Concacaf Champions League

A CONCACAF Champions League mid-week match against Saprissa in Costa Rica gave Club America’s regular bench players some good practice, but also allowed the team’s stars to shine in the 3-0 victory.

It’s never easy to play against a Costa Rican squad on native soil, and indeed, for large parts of the match, Saprissa had a lot of the ball and created a number of chances. That the Central American club wasn’t able to convert was due less to poor finishing, though, than to the stellar performance of Club America goalkeeper Moises Munoz, who has quietly been on a tear this season. The first few games of the season aside, he has been exceedingly stingy in allowing goals. On Wednesday night, Saprissa took 20 shots, yet left without a single goal.

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Game Details

Actually, the majority of the game passed without goals for either side. Saprissa would regret not doing better with their opportunities, but it would be too late once Club America coach Gustavo Matosas made a few key substitutions. The America boss sent in Pablo Aguilar, Rubens Sambueza and Oribe Peralta.

Once this trio was on the field together, the momentum swung to the Aguilas side. Sambueza’s looping cross found a charging Aguilar in the box in the 79th minute, and the Paraguayan player pushed a header into the net. Peralta then put away two other goals. He was assisted by Darwin Quintero on one and Paul Aguilar on the other.


With the game tied, Gustavo Matosas made three key substitutions to help America score three second-half goals to beat Saprissa.

The assist by Quintero, who played the entire match, bodes well for Club America’s upcoming game against Leones Negros in Liga MX action. The CCL game allowed Quintero to shake off the rust of his two-game suspension and reintegrate back into the club with some meaningful game action.

It speaks to the dominant form Club America is displaying now that the team didn’t even bother to put a leading goalscorer, Dario Benedetto, on the roster for this game. He and Miguel Samudio, another top player, were allowed to rest muscle injuries. Another key player, Christian Pellerano, rested on the bench during the game, since he was never called upon to play in the match.

It’s an embarrassment of riches for Matosas, but when so much good talent is available, it takes careful rotation to keep players from getting restless. That’s why it was vital for the squad to trust younger players like forward Martin Zuniga with important minutes of game time.

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Game Details

As much as the organization is famous for bringing in foreign talent like Benedetto or Quintero, Club America has also developed some of Mexico’s top talents through the years, including Miguel Layun and Raul Jimenez, both young players now performing abroad.

Players like defender Ventura Alvarado, who is only 22, may be part of that next wave of development. Game minutes are the true trial by fire to produce players who can perform on any stage.

What’s interesting about the expectations for Club America now is that the team is still not leading the league, yet it is in some ways being treated as the de facto best team of Liga MX. Tijuana tops the table with two more points than the Aguilas, but many consider the loss by Club America to the Xolos to be an early season fluke. Now that the Aguilas squad is rolling, the anticipation is that the team will be extremely difficult for any other squad to defeat.

Thus, for these true believers, it isn’t a question of whether Club America will lead the league, but when it will happen.

The odds are decent for Club America to seize that lead this weekend. Their match against Leones Negros, who are languishing near the bottom of the table, shouldn’t be a difficult one. Tijuana has a tougher challenge to claim full points against Pachuca. Even if Matosas decides one of his injured stars needs extra rest, he still has plenty of other shining talents to choose from for the starting lineup.

Andrea Canales covers both Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter @soccercanales.

America get CCL win with key players resting – ESPN FC (blog)

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