Are you ready? Toronto FC are set to face seven-time Concacaf Champions League winners (and the most decorated team in Mexico) Club América, on home turf.
Having already looked closely at the main weapons of Las Aguilas, Waking the Red, just as we did for the Tigres tie, spoke to FMF State of Mind’s Rafael Diaz about Club America’s threat and TFC’s chances ahead of tonight’s high-profile clash.
Waking the Red: What are Club America’s main threats and in what way they can exploit Toronto FC?
Rafael Diaz: If you think about where Club América are this year and where they currently stand both in Liga MX and the Concacaf Champions League, most people will bring up the names of Oribe Peralta and Mateus Uribe. That said, América’s greatest threats might actually be Cecilio Dominguez and Renato Ibarra.
As opposed to Tigres, América don’t mind getting dirty and absorbing a bit of pressure. They have one of the best defensive midfielders in Liga MX in Guido Rodriguez, and a lot of their gameplan rests in snatching the ball and finding Dominguez or Ibarra in advanced positions up the field. The problem for Toronto is América can beat you by having the ball and by not having it. Dominguez and Ibarra set everything in motion no matter what type of way Miguel Herrera chooses to play.
WTR: Where can TFC harm Club America?
RD: There is no doubt Greg Vanney watched Club América’s game vs. Cruz Azul over the weekend. If you pay close attention to Cruz Azul’s goal, you will notice that both centre-back Edson Alvarez and left-back Carlos Vargas overcommitted in the play that led to the score. Alvarez and Vargas are by no means seasoned defenders, and they tend to have lapses where they show their inexperience. In general, Club América are a tough team to beat, but if Toronto want to give themselves a chance to win, it starts with attacking America’s most vulnerable players.
WTR: Will Jérémy Ménez's absence prove to be a massive factor?
RD: Not at all. While there is no doubting Jérémy Ménez is a great player, he hasn’t had a massive impact in the way Club América play with or without him. This isn’t André-Pierre Gignac we are talking about. Henry Martin should do just fine in his place.
WTR: How TFC should defend Oribe Peralta?
RD: This is the thing about Oribe Peralta. One of his most underrated traits is his ability to play right behind the main striker in an almost attacking-midfielder-like position. It is a given that América are going to find ways to get the ball up the field, but the least Peralta is involved, the better for Toronto. When Dominguez, Ibarra and Peralta are all in sync, defensive markings are lost and Club América are at their best. The solution is to disconnect Peralta from the game. Isolate him or force him to misplace a pass to a teammate.
Many thanks to Rafa for his thoughts. Follow him on Twitter: @rafarambles. Moreover, check out FMF State of Mind for more information about Mexican teams, both in Liga MX but also in the Concacaf Champions League.