Club América is the best club in CONCACAF. It's a bold statement sure, but there isn't a club in this part of the world that is as big or as formidable as América. They are the standing CONCACAF Champions' League title holder, having come back from what the Mexican press deemed an embarrassing tie at home against the Montreal Impact and conceding a goal early in the return leg in Stade Olympique to thrash Montreal 5-3. They ranked as the number one club in Brotherly Game's Top 500 clubs in CONCACAF list by a sizeable margin over second ranked UANL Tigres (also of Mexico's Liga MX). When América is on, there's really no stopping them.
Historically, they've always been a powerhouse in Mexico. América has never been relegated, and has more domestic titles than any other club, winning their twelfth in the 2014 Apertura - a match you've undoubtedly seen either by the header by América goalkeeper Moisés Muñoz to allow the match to go into extra time or former manager Miguel "El Piojo" Herrera's celebration on the sideline when Christian "Chucho" Benitez hit the penalty to win. They've also won the CONCACAF Champions' Cup (League) six times, which is tied with their crosstown rivals Cruz Azul for most by any club. They finished fourth in the 2006 and fifth in the 2015 Club World Cup.
América lines up in a standard 4-4-2, although they do resort to a 5-4-1 or 4-5-1 periodically. Moisés Muñoz is a fixture in goal for América, and the back four is usually Miguel Samudio at left back, Pablo Aguilar and Paolo Goltz at center back, and either Osmar Mares or American Ventura Alvarado at right back for Paul Aguilar (no relation to Pablo), who injured his left medial collateral ligament in a January 10 friendly against Tlaxcala. That being said, Paul may be back in the mix by the time Los Aguilas head to Seattle at the end of February. Anchored by captain Rubens Sambueza on the wing, América's midfield is deep, with Javier Güémez, Osmar Martinez, and William da Silva in the center of the pitch pulling the strings for wingers Sambueza, Miky Arroyo, and Darwin Quintero. Up top, América relies on the dynamic duo of El Tri mainstay Oribe Peralta and Dario "Pipa" Benedetto, who is the best Argentine striker you've probably never heard of (although he recently became a naturalized Mexican citizen and could decide to play with Peralta for Mexico).
América can be its own worst enemy however. They self-destructed in their Liguilla loss to UNAM Pumas, picking up four red cards over the course of the home-and-away series. They're also not very good at playing from behind, drawing once and losing six in the seven times they conceded the first goal since the beginning of 2015. América is a very versatile team in terms of play. They tend to play a possession-based style utilizing short passes in the midfield, however they are equally as dangerous on the counterattack, able to quickly move the ball from backs to the wings on up to Benedetto or Peralta. Pipa is a true threat, able to play the offside and get a shot in close or hit a long-range curling golazo with equal ease.
Fans of the club travel well, so expect CenturyLink to have a smattering of yellow jerseys there when América comes to Seattle. América is one of the hemisphere's most popular teams, with their Facebook page eclipsing 8 million likes earlier this year and their Twitter account closing in on 2 million.
Club América matches are readily available in the United States thanks to clubs being able to negotiate their own television contracts. This weekend, the América - Santos Laguna match will be televised on Univision and Univision Deportes at 3:00 PM PST. If you tune in, pay attention to the ball movement. Watch the transitions between backs and midfield and midfield and forwards. There's a rhythm to the movement, an ebb and flow as the ball moves around and the players look for that defensive misstep.
Eugene Rupinski followed Liga MX since the late 1980's.
"I would watch it as a kid and kinda rediscovered it around 2010 or so. Before joining Brotherly Game, I ran a small blog covering Liga MX, and even after I mothballed it to cover the Union I still watch religiously (much to the dismay of my wife)."