The time has come. Toronto FC are set to host one of the most decorated team in Mexican football, as they face Club America in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League, this Tuesday.
After last Friday’s 3-1 defeat of Real Salt Lake, Greg Vanney’s clan are striving to up their ante and put in another impressive display against the seven-time continental champions in an attempt to emulate the performance — and why not the result — showcased against Tigres in the previous round.
Through this article, Waking the Red will give you a glimpse of some of their main threats which will try to overcome TFC’s challenge and send Miguel Herrera’s team into the final.
¡Volamos a Toronto!— Club América (@ClubAmerica) April 1, 2018
First things first. TFC met Club America in their first friendly against Mexican teams during the off-season with the Liga MX side emerging winners 6-3.
In that particular game, Vanney put out a 4-4-2 line-up with Alex Bono in goal, Gregory van der Wiel, Drew Moor, Chris Mavinga and Justin Morrow forming the four-man back line, Marky Delgado and Jonathan Osorio in the midfield together with Michael Bradley and Victor Vazquez while Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore were the attacking pair.
Incidentally, Altidore, who scored a brace during that game, was on Club America’s radar prior the season. Thankfully, though, the move did not go through and Altidore stayed in Canada.
Jozy Altidore to Club America very unlikely: Sources https://t.co/qla9Wqv2OR pic.twitter.com/Xf0AWV10bs— Toronto Sun (@TheTorontoSun) January 30, 2018
Meanwhile, the Atomic Ant scored the other goal for TFC and if you remember, he converted that free-kick with every Club America player on the line.
So this is interesting from TFC's friendly today: Club America put men on the posts to try to defend a Giovinco free-kick, so TFC had Altidore stand right in front of the keeper (no longer offside, of course).— Oliver Platt (@plattoli) February 9, 2018
Then, as he does, Seba made a mockery of it all anyway. #TFCLive pic.twitter.com/LWh4QNDELb
Club America last won this tournament during the 2015-16 campaign, when they successfully defended the title won the previous season in a double-legged affair against Tigres (4-1 on aggregate).
Las Aguilas occupy the fourth spot in the Liga MX Clausura tournament with 24 points, three behind leaders Toluca against whom they lost earlier last month, at the Estadio Azteca.
In the continental championship, they had a pretty straightforward campaign so far after eliminating Costa Rica’s Saprissa 6-2 on aggregate before securing another large advantage, 7-1, over Tauro of Panama.
Tauro 1-3 America Highlights | @TauroFC @ClubAmerica #SCCL2018 pic.twitter.com/xnVePy6AvD— THE CHAMPIONS (@TheChampions) March 15, 2018
In their latest Liga MX commitment, Herrera’s team hosted Cruz Azul in the Clásico Joven and claimed a 2-1 win to edge closer towards a place in the Clausura play-offs.
Herrera deployed his team in a 4-4-2 flat with Agustin Marchesin in goal behind right-back Paul Aguilar and central defender Carlos Vargas, who was roped on the left flank. The central pair was comprised of 20-year old Edson Alvarez and Emanuel Aguilera.
Renato Ibarra and Cecilio Dominguez, one of the scorers, featured on the left and right wing respectively while their other goalscorer Mateus Uribe played alongside defensive midfielder Guido Rodriguez at the heart of the midfield.
Mexico national team member and Club America captain Oribe Peralta featured up front together with Henry Martin.
#PorSiTeLoPerdiste— Club América (@ClubAmerica) April 1, 2018
RESUMEN: Con goles de Matheus y de Cecilio, remontamos y nos llevamos el #ClásicoJoven 2-1.#VamosAmérica pic.twitter.com/fzZ1EdMvul
Below, there are three of Club America’s main players. US international Joe Corona plays an important part in the game, Oribe Peralta has been declared fit to play by coach Herrera while Jeremy Menez did not travel due to injury — however, he may be available for the second leg, so in that case, it is better to write him down in the list whatsoever.
Joe Corona, born in Los Angeles, is the link between the defensive and offensive lines of Club America.
He always implements an aggressive approach to win the ball and once recovered, he has the ability to break the lines with his passing. He is sometimes entrusted to dictate the plays and could be a valuable asset for the Mexicans once he moves into the box as well, given he started out his career as a more advanced midfielder.
The US international played three of the four games in this years Concacaf Champions League and has already played 28 games in all competitions for Las Aguilas.
In the Cruz Azul game, he came on in the last 26 minutes but his experience led him to be involved in five duels and register four interceptions and one recovery in his own half, helping his team to clinch the three points.
One of Club America’s marquee players is Jeremy Menez. The 31-year-old French journeyman moved to Liga MX last January following his Turkish spell with Antalyaspor. He’s seen successful spells across Europe, at Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain, AS Roma, and AC Milan.
Under Herrera’s guidance, he has already played 11 games, scoring twice and grabbing a couple of assists as well. He featured in both legs against Saprissa but did not play a part in either leg against Tauro in the following round. His last game was against Toluca, on March 18, and he missed their last outing against Cruz Azul due to an injury which also prevented him from travelling to Toronto.
Menez’s main characteristic is his versatility. He can play anywhere up front, having filled the roles as attacking midfielder, left midfielder/winger, right midfielder/winger and sometimes also as a striker.
Although he has never quite been a goal machine, he is still an important threat for Club America with his ability of cutting inside before striking long-shots. When the team is struggling to inch up their way on the field, he is key in helping them gain ground and catch opponents on the break — in fact, in Italy he was described as a contropiedista (a player who excels in counter-attacking).
Despite his 34 years, Oribe Peralta remains a pivotal player to Club America’s cause. This season, he has already featured in over 2,968 minutes translated into 38 games, finding the net 10 times and assisting six although he has not yet opened his account in this year’s continental championship.
Peralta was also called up by Juan Carlos Osorio to the El Tri squad for their latest international friendly during which he played 45 minutes in the 3-0 victory over Iceland.
Among his numerous titles, El Cepillo has won the Concacaf Champions League twice, hence he knows what it takes at this stage to overcome the hurdles.
He is the traditional striker, always roaming in the box ready to execute as soon as he sniffs goals. While difficult to mark, Peralta is a hard-working forward who can put the ball into the net with any part of his body.
His last goal was on March 4, against Chivas Guadalajara and we hope that his sterile streak will be prolonged over our double-legged affair against the Liga MX powerhouse.
Miguel ‘Super Sayan’ Herrera
Finally, Club America’s coach is one of the most charismatic yet outspoken people in Mexican football, Miguel Herrera. He is mostly known for this world-famous GIF.