América facing the ghosts of the past to reach the 2023 Liga MX final
The Águilas are keen to return to a final after a four-year absence. They head into tonight’s return leg leading by five goals.
América are one step away from securing their place in the 2023 Apertura Grand Final. André Jardine’s side thrashed Atlético San Luis 5-0 in the semi-final first leg with everything in their favor going into this evening’s decider. The Potosí-based club last played a final in December 2019 - the climax of the Apertura 2019 which they ended up losing on penalties to Monterrey after it ended 3-3 over two legs. Memories of that night remain painful for the Águilas, who will be attempting to put things right this year.
While a five-goal lead should be enough to see them through, the Coapa team cannot afford to fall into the trap of being overconfident. Any lifeline they hand Atlético San Luis could prove fatal and scupper their chances of advancing to the final. It’s a situation that América have been in before in seasons gone by. Let’s take a look at some of the occasions when América have been eliminated at the closing stages in recent years.
Far from what you might think, playing the second leg at the Azteca is not always an advantage for the Azulcremas, who have been eliminated at home in five of their last six tournaments.
In the Clausura 2020, still with Miguel Herrera at the helm, América were knocked out by Chivas with Cristian Calderón scoring twice at the Azteca in the quarter finals. For the next tournament, in the Clausura 2021 and with Solari on the bench, the Águilas once again fell short, falling 3-1 away at Pachuca at the same stage.
It looked like luck might be on América’s side in the Apertura 2021 - the team entered the playoffs as the general leader but that privilege counts for little in the liguilla. Once again they found themselves back in the quarter finals - this time against Pumas. The first leg ended 0-0 but Pumas prevailed 1-3 in the return to make the next round. The only time that the Águilas were eliminated outside of Azteca between 2019 and 2023 was in the Clausura 2022 when he reached the semi-finals, only to crash out to Pachuca at the Hidalgo.
In the second half of the 2022 campaign, it seemed that they had everything going for them to advance to the final after opening up a huge lead in the table; but the team was eventually dumped out by Toluca after a 1-1 draw at the Azteca made it 2-3 on aggregate. Finally, the most recent case was the Clausura 2023 when Chivas eliminated them at the Coloso de Santa Úrsula in the semi-finals in a match that marked the end of the Fernando Ortíz era.