Copa MX has America thinking trophy

Posted by Eric Gomez

It has been eight long years since America hoisted a trophy of any kind. The team won its tenth league championship (fourteenth, if you ask former club president Michel Bauer) against an overachieving Tecos team in front of a packed Estadio Azteca in early 2005.

To this day, fans yearn for the mix of star power and intense commitment that guys like Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Claudio 'Piojo' Lopez and Kleber Boas brought to the table. Since that fateful afternoon in Mexico City, America has made just two finals, losing both the Clausura and the Copa Sudamericana titles in 2007.

Judging on recent form, it might seem that the easiest opportunity for America to celebrate a title is the newly rekindled Copa MX. After a disappointing run last semester saw them out at the group stage thanks to the tournament's weird point system (you get an extra point if you win your home and away series on aggregate), Miguel Herrera stated that the team would put all of its firepower behind the domestic cup.

- Liga MX fixtures, results and table

This has turned to be not only a boon to the team itself, but for the Cup organizers, who were harshly criticized by the press not only thanks to the tourney's format, but the fact that no Liga MX teams made it to the semifinals in the Apertura 2012.

At first glance, America's being placed into a group with only second division teams might be a little suspect, but the team has authoritatively put any doubts as to how seriously they regard the tournament to rest. Five wins in five matches have the team on the other side, and with prime placing for one of the weaker opponents in the quarterfinals.

Wednesday's game was no cakewalk. Despite being up 4-0 early in the second half, Neza brought it to within two goals and threatened to close the gap further. Before they could do so, Narciso Mina (with five goals in five games) slammed home his third strike of the match, putting the game to rest, though Neza did counter with a very late goal to make it 5-3.

Excluded from the tournament are Copa Libertadores reps Tijuana, Toluca and Leon, who were intentionally left out, as were CONCACAF Champions League squads Chivas, Monterrey, Tigres and Santos Laguna. With almost half the Liga MX out of the tournament (of those seven teams, only Santos Laguna and Tigres missed the playoffs last season), organizers are praying for a Cruz Azul-America final that would put fans in seats and send ratings through the roof.

It would pit two huge teams who desperately want to end a lengthy trophy drought in a drama-filled ambience, with the historical rivalry an added plus to the potential match. Whether that’s the case remains to be seen. Meanwhile, we’re days away from a potential prelude in the league match this Saturday.

Parting Shot: Herrera, winningest coach in 2013

With the Cup victory against Neza, America has officially won 10 games in 2013. Overall, the team has gone 10-1-2 this year, which equates to 79% of all possible points, and a 76% winning percentage.

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