Club America fans have had a very down year. They have suffered through a mediocre Apertura, a Sudamericana final loss in the last throes, an absolute horrific and historically ignominious Clausura campaign, 3 coaching changes, an ineffective Memo Ochoa, and finally, mercifully, the most disastrous of all years would be coming to an end.
The ones in charge of this mercy killing were Flamengo, the traditional Rio powerhouse that tore through the group stages of the Libertadores, and earned the 2 seed. They dispatched America in the Azteca 4-2 last week. Last night's game was merely a formality. TCB, send the Aguilas back to Coapa for an off-season of retooling and restructuring while Fla meets its destiny in the Libertadores final.
Of course, that is not what happened. Thanks to another brilliant performance from Salvador Cabañas (who is cementing himself as one of the hemisphere’s top players) and a lovely combination from 2 of America's youngsters, Juan Carlos Silva and Enrique Esqueda, Club America defeated Flamengo 3-0 (5-4 aggregate) in what has to be hailed as one of the biggest wins in Mexico's sojourns in the Copa Libertadores. Only Guadalajara's 4-0 dismantling of Boca Juniors in 2005 comes to mind as another equally shocking result.
America now faces the winner of the Santos/Cúcuta series. Cúcuta have developed a reputation of Mexican club killers, as they ousted Toluca in 2007, and bounced Chivas from this years group stages.
I am personally not a big fan of America, but I respect them and the game enough to appreciate the magnitude of their accomplishment. I am very happy for all the Americanistas all over the world who have had to endure such a tough season. The players and the newly appointed coach, Juan Antonio Luna, deserve all the credit for this.
America is now playing with house money. There is nothing more dangerous in a knockout tournament than a team with nothing to lose. This season's end may not be as ignominious after all.