It's been a while. Players have come and gone, but none have captured the essence of what it truly means to play for America since the beloved Cuauhtémoc Blanco left the squad 6 years ago. The player who came closest to becoming idolized by the Americanismo was Salvador Cabañas, but his career was cut short with a bullet in a night club bathroom.
The Mexico City club has tried very hard to bring in "that" guy - the keeper of the flame that burns brightest when a Reinoso, or a Capitán Furia, or a Zaguinho, or a Temo was on the pitch. A player that can simultaneously make Club América both the most loved and most hated team in Liga MX.
To be an América Idol, it's not enought to just be a great player. Having "it" is not enough. In addition to the latter two qualities, one has to passionate, arrogant, a leader of men, and someone who relishes playing the hero as much as he does the villain.
Raúl Jiménez, your number has been called.
The youngster in not your typical Mexican striker: he is tall (over 6 feet), yet very skilled with his feet. Tall strikers in Mexico are "troncos." Big boys with two left feet who might score on occasion with a header.
Jiménez is no tronco.
The 22 year-old striker made his top flight debut in late 2011, but a made name for himself last summer in the Toulon tournament, where his excellent vision and link-up play with Marco Fabián helped him beat out Alan Pulido for a spot on the 18-man Olympic squad.
Once promoted to the senior side, he played sparingly in his first three seasons, scoring 6 times, 4 of which came after the London Games. In 5 matches so far this, his fourth season, he has scored 4 times, which puts him tied for 2nd place on the scorer's table with Oribe Peralta. It's the hottest start by a young local since Javier Hernandez.
Unlike, Javier, who is ever so humble, Jiménez is quite cocky, bordering on obnoxious.
In other words, he fits the profile to be the next América Idol.
Jimenez has done so well so far this season, he has left the club's big money signing, Narciso Mina - the leading scorer in the Ecuadorian league - on the bench. Jiménez' play on the pitch, though, has it made it easy for Club América coach, Luis Herrera, to leave Mina watching the game from those cushy seats on the sideline. "sensational!" Herrera said of his players' 2-goal performance last Saturday. "He is not making it difficult for me at all. We have confidence in him, and he has responded like a striker is supposed to. With goals, determination, and attitude."
Jiménez was pulled after 73 minutes, receiving a raucous ovation in the process. "It was great to hear that." He said after the game. If he keeps playing at this level, the Americanismo won't tire of praising him.
And the anti-americanistas won't tire of hating him.
Which is exactly what it means to be the America Idol.