The post-Temo era has not been very kind to Club America. In fact, for a team with such a storied tradition, the past few years have been particularly gruesome. The last few seasons has seen big name players come and go, big name coaches come and go, all in a vain attempt to try to recapture the glory that so many America fans not only expect, but demand. Big name imports like Pocho Insua, Lucas Castroman, and Enrique Vera were flops. Intra league transfers, Matias Vuoso, Chango Moreno fared no better. And the coaches? Save a near Sudamericana triumph in the tenure of former America superstar (and current ESPN pundit) Daniel “Ruso” Brailovsky, the coaching set unprecedented standards in infamy for the americanismo. The club didn’t make any liguilla since Blanco went north.
As this tourney began, all of the talking heads said that America was too much team for the current coach (former youth Tri boss), Jesus Ramirez. He didn’t have the experience necessary to manage a team of such high prestige. The pressure would surely get to him, and he fold faster than a soggy tortilla. The race was on to see which Ramirez would get fired first: Chucho or Paco, the asshat who socked Frankie Hejduk in Columbus and current Chivas coach.
America was finally able to string some decent results together for the first time in years. But they faced a big, big, test yesterday at the Azteca. Toluca is as good a test as any in this hemisphere to see how a team measures up. And after 90 minutes, it was pretty clear that America measures up pretty well. The final score was 7-2.
Are we in the midst of a resurrection? Can America hold up to the increased scrutiny as the newly minted front-runner in the Mexican Primera? Of course they can. They have always had the horses, just not the chemistry. Over the past few years, they have wasted the talents of the best player in the league, Salvador Cabañas, by fielding the league's worst defense. This yeat, the back line has stiffened, and Cabañas, is, well, Cabañas.
Club America are very much like the Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees, Notre Dame. Not because they are the most popular team, but because they are easily the most hated team in Mexican Primera. And americanismo thrives on it. It’s the reason why Nike concocted the “ódiame más” (hate me more) campaign for America.
There is no denying that the league is much more interesting when America is playing well. And there is also no denying that if America keeps winning, fans will emerge from the woodwork and hop on the train. Americanismo is back in its canary yellow, arrogant splendor to take what it feels to be its rightful place in the Mexican futbol hierarchy.
Odiame más? They wouldn’t want it any other way. And the league is better for it.