It was 1916 when Rafael Garza and his cousin Germán Núñez Cortina, teenage boys of only thirteen, students at the Mascarones School and regular soccer players during recess, decided to create a team with the finest young men at their school. They summoned everyone at school for an evening reunion at Germán’s aunt house, Mrs. Calixta Cortina, also known as “aunt Calita”. Aproximately 13 young men attended that first meeting.
The most enthusiast project leader, Rafael Garza Gutiérrez, surprised everyone by arriving dressed in full uniform. He came inside wearing an old cream-colored, long-sleeved shirt, all worn out, with buttons at the front. He also took an old pair of navy blue pants from his father’s closet, cut them at knee height and turned them into shorts. Garza Gutiérrez told his father to ask a family friend’s tailor to make the word “récord” on the back of the shirt using pieces left over from the pants. He was also wearing a pair of navy blue socks. All the boys loved this cream-colored shirt, shorts and navy blue socks outfit, and so it became the official team’s uniform. They named it “Récord” in honor of Garza Gutiérrez. Everyone began calling him by that name as well, becoming his loving nickname.Most young men in the team couldn’t afford to pay for the exact same uniform, the material with which it was made turned out to be very expensive.
Meanwhile, at another Marist school named La Perpetua, existed a recently created team named “Colón”. Its main players, Ignacio de la Garza, Luis Fabre and Alonso Sordo Noriega were disheartened because a lot of times they couldn’t gather the 11 players needed to play a match. Their coach and teacher, Eugenio Cenoz, who knew of team “Récord’s” recent creation, suggested a meeting with them to join both teams into a single one.
It was the perfect union. Team “Récord” had plenty of top quality players. “Colón” had several yards of fine cashmere to make the uniforms, as well as two balls to play with.
In no time, on October 12, 1916, they got together at the plains in la Condesa to talk about the team’s new name. They had already decided to keep the azulcrema uniform from “Récord’s” team, since it was beautiful and different from all the uniforms in existence. In fact, everyone arrived fully uniformed, teacher Cenoz acted as witness of honor.
There were many name proposals but in the end, the one suggested by Pedro “Cheto” Quintanilla, won. It would be “AMÉRICA” because the discovery of América was being celebrated precisely on that day. Likewise, Quintanilla himself, who by the way was very good at drawing, paired his proposal with a sketch of the American continent with the azulcrema colors and the first letters of the newly born team: “C” for Club and “A” for América.
Not only was Club América’s official creation established that afternoon, but also the mythic and legendary colors with which our team has been identified through the years.
As the team started to gain shape, many aspiring players began presenting themselves to the people handling it, to see if they could be admitted. There were so many, they had to be toughened up by organizing interscholastic tournaments and restricting ages, all this with the goal of leveling the competition. América always ended up winning and for this reason, the Board cherished the thought of being admitted to Primera Fuerza, every team’s maximum wish. And so it was that in the dawn of 1917, the admission form was formalized before the “Mexican Soccer League Amateur Association”.
According to the requirements that said League demanded of every new club, América had to pass the test of three games played against teams within the Association. They had to be admitted based on results.
The new team successfully passed the test. Once admitted, their 1917-1918 championship debut wasn’t the best, they ended up last. It was good for them because they gained experience for the future.
Club América’s first match in Primera Fuerza was against team Júnior on October 31, 1917. The cremas lost 0-1. Our lineup was as follows: Nacho de la Garza; Rafael Rosales, “Yaqui” Salido González; Luis Fabre, Adeodato López, Fernando Sierra; Pancho Gutiérrez, Guillermo Gómez Arzáplo, Alfredo García Besné, Julián Sierra, Abel Flores Reyes.
From 1918 to 1920 the team changed its name to “Unión”, due to the fusion of all the groups in schools belonging the the Marist Brothers. It took part in the National League along with Club España, Luz y Fuerza, Amicale Française and Reforma A.C.
In 1920 the crema team took back the name América and began an era of sporting splendor.
On August 1922, the union of the “Mexican Soccer League Amateur Association” and the “National League” was established, the Championship of FMF’s Primera Fuerza. Today it is known as MX League’s First Division. The first game in the League’s history was played on Sunday, October 22, 1922. We had the honor of playing said inaugural match against team España, beating them 2-0 with goals scored by “Camote” José Izquierdo (49´) and “Bofo” Alfredo García Besné (62´).
With the establishment of this League, members encouraged the creation of the first National Team.
In 1923 the americanista squad went on tour to Guatemala, becoming the first national representative to play a game outside of Mexico.
At the end of the year, mid 1922-23 championship, América became the foundation for Mexico’s first National Soccer Team, facing Guatemala in January 1923. Two games were won, the other ended in a tie. Those were the first matches played officially by a Mexican soccer team outside Aztec territory. During said trip, Carlos Garcés, our player, came up with the famous “siquiti-bum a la bim-bom-bá” chant.
Success finally came and in what way! América managed to displace the Iberian teams and won the championship four times in a row from 1924-25 to 1927-28. América achieved great things. Most of its players were Mexican, two of them were English (William Heyder and James Bostok) and one Honduran, Juan José Amargós. All of them took part in winning the titles.
We got our first star during the 1924-25 season. We were undefeated and conquered the title before the championship ended. Under the command of Rafael Garza Gutiérrez “Récord”, our team played 12 games during the 1924-25 championship. América won 10 games and tied 2, becoming undefeated. Its players scored 21 goals and received 4 against. There was no team that could take away the title, so our squad was crowned champion on March 1, 1925, defeating Asturias 1-0 with a goal scored by Juan Terrazas. This time the lineup was as follows: Ignacio de la Garza, Manuel Yáñez, Rafael Garza Gutiérrez, Francisco Henríquez, Enrique Esquivel, Luis Cerrilla, Rosendo Terrazas, Pedro Legorreta; Guillermo Márquez Acuña, Horacio Ortiz and Juan Terrazas. Ernesto Sota won the top scorer title with 10 goals scored
Winning the championship two times in a row happened fast. Juan José Amargós Nieves Hernández, William Heyder, Agustín Ojeda, Javier Pister and Pelegrín de Prida became part of the team. Once again, with Rafael Garza Gutiérrez “Récord” as coach, we played 15 games during the 1925-26 championship. We won 11 matches, tied 3 and lost only 1 during the final round to win the title. On April 1926, our team faced Asturias, team with which we were tied in first place at the end of regular phase. The League determined the championship would be defined in an extra series of three games between both teams. We won the first game 2-1 with goals scored by Luis Cerrilla (24´) and Juanito Terrazas (77´). We lost our undefeated status during the second game with a final score of 1-4, after 24 months without losing. Pelegrín de Prida scored the goal (55´) in this match. The defining game in the series was played on May 9, 1926; Juan Terrazas scored again (60´), winning 1-0 and with this, the coveted title. The lineup presented that day: Ignacio de la Garza; Rafael Garza Gutiérrez, Agustín Ojeda; Rafael Rosales, Enrique Esquivel, Luis Cerrilla, Rosendo Terrazas, Horacio Ortiz, Ernesto Sota, William Heyder and Juan Terrazas. By this time, we were already considered the best team in the capital, above team España.
We won for the third time in a row in the 1926-27 season. Once again the cremas finished first in the tournament, therefore, winning the title. We played 12 games during the 1925-26 season. We won 7, tied four and, again, lost only one. New players joined the -two-times champion- americanista generation prior to the beginning of the tournament: Benito Contreras from Deportivo Toluca, Hesiquio Cerrilla, Francisco Garza Gutiérrez and Bracho as backup goalkeeper. Percy Clifford came aboard as Head Coach. América set the pace for its rivals during the tournament. The team hammered Germania FV 10-0 on December 19, 1926, América’s top scoring moment ever. We only needed a tie in the last round to win for the third time in a row. On June 5, 1927, we defeated Aurrera 2-1 at the old Campo de la Verónica, with goals by Contreras (68´ and 70´). We were crowned champions. Besides, the team received the Challenger Cup, a trophy that, after the League’s establishment in 1922, would be given to the team that managed to win the tournament three times in a row. The lineup that morning was as follows: Ignacio de la Garza; Luis Cerrilla, Rafael Garza Gutiérrez; Francisco Henríquez, Rosendo Terrazas, Hesiquio Cerrilla, Agustín Ojeda, Carlos Garcés, Enrique Esquivel, Benito Contreras and Juan Terrazas.
Before the beginning of the 1927-28 season, América faced Real Madrid in two separate occasions. The “Merengues” won both matches, first 2-4 (azulcrema goals scored by Juan Terrazas and Carlos Garcés) on September 4 and after, 3-5 (goals scored by Benito Contreras, Juan Carreño on loan from Atlante and Ernesto Sota). Once the official tournament began for season 1927-28, América achieved a terrific deed: becoming champion four times in a row. Reforma Athletic Club and Club España also accomplished this feat during the past decade. This confirmed Club América’s status as best team at the time. Ernesto Sota was declared top scorer once again with 16 goals scored. Our team played 14 matches, won 11, tied 2 and lost once to Necaxa. América obtained its fourth title with 24 points out of 28, 40 goals scored and 19 against. The new additions to the team were: James Bostok, Carlos Carral, Alberto Muñoz, Manuel Romero, Guillermo Romero Vargas, Pedro Suinaga and Roberto Gayón. The last game was played on November 11, 1928, facing team Aurrera. They conquered the title with a score of 3-1 with goals scored by Muñoz (15´), Carral (42´) and Gayón (72´). Lineup:Ignacio de la Garza; Hesiquio Cerrilla, Charles Newmayer; Luis Cerrilla, Rafael Garza Gutiérrez, Manuel Romero Vargas, Carlos Garcés, Guillermo Márquez Acuña, Carlos Carral, Roberto Gayón and Alberto Muñoz.
América was going through a great moment. For this reason, federation members considered the azulcrema squad to become the foundation for the National Team that would compete in the Amsterdam 1928 Olympic Games. Ignacio de la Garza, Rafael Garza Gutiérrez, Luis Cerrilla, Pedro Suinaga, Juan Terrazas, Ernesto Sota, Benito Contreras and Carlos Garcés were part of it. It is worth mentioning that Agustín Ojeda, Adeodato López and Nieves Hernández, three players that became champions with América but were already pursuing different paths, were called up as well to be part of the team.
The extraordinary azulcrema golden age came to a stop during the 1928-29 season, when the team finished third in the general ranking. Isidoro Sota, Jorge Sota, Rafael Navarro and the extraordinary Alfredo "El Viejo" Sánchez became part of the team before the decade ended. América was runner-up in the 1929-30 tournament, and Jorge Sota was named top scorer with 12 goals scored.
The transition into the 1930’s turned out to be a tough transformation process for América. As the 1920’s came to an end, so did the azulcrema’s golden age. Players from the first great generation eventually retired and new talent emerged. Men such as “Récord”, Nacho de la Garza, the Sota’s, the Terraza’s and the Cerilla’s among others began to leave their spots for other players who would later stand out. Such are the cases of Luis García Cortina, the super famous “Tití”, Enrique “Chamaco” Ostos, Rafael Mollinedo, Armando Frank, Luis “Pirata” Fuente and the new team’s jewel: Octavio “La Pulga” Vial.
It seemed like América would reestablish its position during the 1929-30 championship, but in the end we came out as runner-ups. Just a point below team España’s albinegros.
Rafael Garza Gutiérrez ‘Récord’, Alfredo ‘Viejo’ Sánchez, Isidoro Sota, Francisco Garza Gutiérrez and Roberto Gayón were called up top play at the 1930 World Cup, celebrated in Uruguay. Gayón even scored a goal against Argentina on July 19, 1930.
After the 1930-31 League suspension and with the new Major League denomination, Club América began losing the spotlight. It finished 4th, 6th and 4th in the 1931-32, 1932-33 and 1933-34 tournaments respectively, ending as runner-ups of the 1934-35 tournament, just below Necaxa. The same situation was repeated the following season, 1935-36.
The 1930’s were a tough decade for América. The only tournament we were able to win was the Copa México in 1937-38 on March 24, 1938. We defeated team España 3-1 with goals scored by Enrique Ostos, “Charro” Argüelles and Octavio Vial. Head Coach Rafael Garza Gutiérrez used the following lineup: Rafael Mollinedo, Daniel Gómez, Armando Franck, Norberto Rosas, Juan Andrade Pradillo, Alfredo “Viejo” Sánchez, Enrique Ostos, Octavio Vial, Luis “Pirata” Fuente, “Charro” Argüelles and Jorge Sota. Previously, during this same competition, we lost the 1933-34 and 1936-37 final against Asturias.
Besides the above mentioned, the decade’s most relevant events were some international matches. We defeated the Athletic Club (2-1) on July 28, 1935, as well as the FC Barcelona with a score of 2-0 on June 20, 1937. We also tied a match (2-2) against the remarkable Basque National Team on November 7, 1937.
The 1940’s decade wasn’t our team’s best. The most relevant event was the crowning of Octavio “Pulga” Vial as the top scorer of the 1940-41 season with 15 goals scored.
From that moment on, the existence of the “professional soccer player” model started to be acknowledged for registration at the Ministry of Work, granting players working rights and establishing their obligations as contributors. And so it was that on April 6, 1943, with an initiative by our president César Martino, every Club belonging to the League agreed to promote the formal registry of the “Soccer Player” profession at the Ministry of Work.
As of the 1943-44 season, new teams belonging to other Leagues within Mexico were included in the Major League, the only one affiliated to the Mexican Soccer Federation, the only official and national. One of these new teams invited to take part in the tournament was Deportivo Guadalajara. Prior to the League starting and still in the 1942-43 season, América competed in the Coapa Tournament and played and official match with them for the fist time, losing 0-1 at the Oblatos Park.
América played the first two League matches of the 1943-44 season against the tapatío team. On January 16, 1944 they won as locals 1-3. The second match in América and Guadalajara’s history was played on February 20, 1944. The outcome left a big mark, one that led to scandal and quarrel.
Thirty minutes into the first half of the game, a battle of epic proportions broke loose, consequence of an accident between the americanista Scarone ant the tapatío Térile. Almost every member of both teams took part in it. Referee López de la Oza expelled Orvañanos and Caffaratti from América. The players expelled from Guadalajara were Gutiérrez and Lozano.
This was our first victory before a team that would later become our biggest rival. This would also lead to the birth of the Classic of Classics. The lineup for the match was as follows: José Moncebáez; Manuel Gutiérrez, Ignacio Díaz; Ramón Barón, Roberto Scarone, Pedro Vera; Guido Matamoros, Leopoldo Proal, Luis García Cortina, Florencio Caffaratti and Julio Orvañanos. All of them commanded by Luis Regueiro. That day at the Asturias Park, Proal scored 4 goals, Matamoros, two and “Tití” García Cortina, one. We won 7-2.
Those years’ most outstanding moment came at the final match of Copa México 1944-45. We played against Puebla on June 17, 1945, and lost 4-6. The goal scorers were: Octavio Vial –twice–, Mateo Nicolau and Roberto Scarone.
During the 1950-51, 1951-52 and 1952-53 seasons, our team had bad results and was even on the verge of relegation a couple of times. A number of crisis both sports related and economical, affected our institution. The americanista cause had to be saved by any means necessary. Mexican comedian Mario Moreno “Cantinflas” was appointed honorary president of the institution with the desire of receiving his economic aid to support the team.
Better results came along during the 1953-54 season when we conquered the Copa México in a match that would make history. To begin with, we were part of Group B where we left behind teams León, Atlas and Toluca. We qualified for a Final three along with Atlante and Guadalajara. We finished in first place, tied with the tapatío team, so we had to play a grand final match against them. And so it was that on May 12, 1954, at the Ciudad de los Deportes Olympic Stadium, we won an epic game against Jalisco’s tough team and got the crown. There were no goals scored during the match’s 90 minutes. During extra time, each squad scored one. José Santiago scored our goal at minute 101 of full-time. Sunderland, the referee, marked the end of the match. Teams were getting ready to define the trophy winner with a penalty series. There was just a little detail: when the second half was restarted, our goalkeeper, Manuel Camacho was expelled. Javier de la Torre committed a nasty foul against him so Manuel insulted the tapatío player. This led to a pitched battle in which almost every player was involved. The Nazarene expelled Camacho and Eduardo González Palmer took his place in the azulcrema goal. So, besides playing more than half the game with one less man, we had to face the championship’s penalty series with a center forward defending the goal instead of a goalkeeper. But the amazing Palmer became a hero by stopping Rivera’s second shot. Meanwhile on our side, Emilio Fizel scored three shots and we were crowned before a joyous crowd. On that magical night our Coach Octavio Vial sent this lineup to the field: Manuel Camacho; Norberto Iácono, Rubelio Esqueda, Manuel Gutiérrez; Héctor Ferrari, Pedro Nájera; José “Pepín” González, José Santiago, Eduardo González Palmer, Emilio Fizel y José “Curro” Buendía. Four days later we played against team Marte for the Champion of Champions trophy. We succumbed by a minimum difference.
For the next season, 1954-55, history repeated once again. We faced Guadalajara in the Cup tournament’s decisive match. After defeating teams Oro and Atlante, we played the final match once again on the morning of March 6, 1955 at the Ciudad de los Deportes Olympic Stadium. We defeated the tapatíos (1-0) once more, this time with a goal scored by Manuel Cañibe, our captain, at minute 48. Our Coach was still Octavio Vial, he lined up the team as follows: Manuel Camacho; Norberto Iácono, Héctor Uzal, Juan Manuel ‘Gato’ Lemus; Héctor Ferrari, Rubelio Esqueda; Emilio Fizel, José Santiago; José Luis Lamadrid, Manuel Cañibe and Gerardo Nava.
That’s how, after two Cup finals in a row, the rivalry between Deportivo Guadalajara and Club América began to grow.
Four days later came our Champion of Champions rematch, playing against team Zacatepec. We defeated them 3-2 on the night of March 10, 1955, with goals scored by Manuel Cañibe at 65´ and 85´, and Manuel Nájera at 62´. Our lineup that unforgettable night was: Manuel Camacho; Norberto Iácono, Héctor Uzal, Juan Manuel “Gato” Lemus; Héctor Ferrari, Rubelio Esqueda; Emilio Fizel, José Santiago, Pedro Nájera, Eduardo González Palmer, Manuel Cañibe.
Eduardo González Palmer was proclaimed top scorer of the 1958-59 League Championship with 25 goals scored.
On July 22, 1959, when the 1959-60 League championship was already being played, the team owner, Mr. Isaac Bessudo, decided to sell Club América’s franchise rights to Mr. Emilio Azcárraga Milmo, owner of Telesistema Mexicano. Bessudo summoned the players and Coach Fernando Marcos to a meeting at El Gallito restaurant, located in Insurgentes Sur Avenue. After the meal, he presented the new team owner. After the obligatory introduction, the new owner’s very first words were: “I know nothing about soccer, but I know about business. I’m going to turn América into a well- administered and profitable business”. He wouldn’t be wrong. Azcárraga Milmo would lead América to the highest steps in Mexican soccer, after assuming a posture based on hiring foreign players.
Azcárraga appointed Darío Pastrana as President and kept Fernando Marcos as Head Coach. The first americanista match under the new administration was played against Zacatepec, managed by Guillermo Cañedo de la Bárcena and trained by Ignacio Trelles. The date was July 26, within round five of the League tournament. Our Cremas won the game 4-3 with goals scored by Paquito Valdés at 29´, Mario Pavéz at 34´, 36´ and Juan Soto at 70´. The first lineup in Emilio Azcárraga’s era was:Walter Ormeño; Juan Bosco, Alfonso Portugal, Juan Manuel “Gato” Lemus; Juanito Arrieta, Pedro Nájera; Paquito Valdéz, Juan Soto, Eduardo González Palmer, Mario Pavéz and José “Pepín” González.
An important event in the Club’s existence was about to happen. América was having a winning streak and won the following four matches in a row, including the one played against Guadalajara in round 7, on August 5. Eduardo González Palmer scored the two goals (23´ and 61´) that gave us the victory (2-0). Later on, during round 11, we defeated team Oro with the same score. Mario Pavéz, skilled midfielder, scored both goals at minutes 75 and 86. Two more rounds had to pass before we could face the third tapatío team of the tournament: Atlas. Once again, our Cremas won with a final score of 2-0. Pavéz himself (23´) and Carlos Calderón de la Barca (53´) scored goals.
Coincidentally, the three matches played against tapatío teams ended in our favor and with the same scores. Our Head Coach Fernando Marcos spoke ironically on the matter and declared: “América doesn’t come to Guadalajara just to win. That’s routine. We come to change the long distance calling code. Each time someone wants to make a call to Guadalajara city, they should dial 2-0, 2-0, 2-0, courtesy of América.”.
Marco’s words really upset team Chiva’s players and Head Coach, setting off their anger. They vowed to get revenge at the next match, during the tournament’s second round. Some tapatíos still remembered Copa México’s finals, which they lost to us, two times in a row in 1954 and 1955.
And so the day of said match came upon us. The fans and press, as well as both teams, had an unusual interest in it. It was a fact that Marco’s words helped incite the rivalry between Jalisco and the Capital. The tapatío regionalism of the time and the capitalino pride, tried to impose their supremacy since the first showdowns. The working-class identified with Deportivo Guadalajara. Club América, a team with aristocrat origins, was the recipient of the capitalino’s hopes of putting an end to the tapatío’s reign as current champions.
November 12, 1959 is marked in our team’s history. It’s the day the “Classic of Classics” was officially born. The tapatío players came out to the field all stirred up, ready to give it all, and so did our players. In a risky match, we lost 1-2 and when it was over, a fight nearly broke out at the Olímpico Universitario Stadium. In the end we didn’t have much choice but to endure the rival team’s mockery. They fought honorably inside the field, but left a legacy that would last forever. The goal scored by Mario Pavéz at minute 74 wasn’t enough. It is considered historic, though, since it is the first americanista goal scored in the already famous “Classic of Classics”.
The change in the team’s administration was a wake-up call. América finished second in the tournament. Better times were foretold.
Azcárraga Milmo new Guadalajara was the people’s team, one that only had Mexican players. He decided to make América the most hated rival, “The villain of the movie”. Therefore, he had to do what the tapatío team couldn’t: hire the best foreign soccer players. América’s first foreign player under Azcárraga’s term was the Argentinian Ángel Osvaldo Schandlein, from team Boca Juniors.
After finishing sixth during the 1960-61 season and having been runner-up in the last immediate tournament, Azcárraga’s first, he was decided to win it all. He hired Guillermo Cañedo de la Bárcena, president of team Zacatepec, to take over the destiny of his team. He entrusted him with the acquisition of new players and members of Technical Staff. The first thing Cañedo did was bringing his most trusted man on board to take over the Head Coach position. And so it was that Ignacio Trelles, former player in the 1943-44 season and now renowned coach, came to América. New great foreign players began to arrive, ones that would leave a mark on the team. The 1961-62 season was about to start when Brazilians José Alves “Zague”, Ney Blanco de Oliveira, Urbatao Calvo and Francisco Moacyr Santos as well as Curaçaoan Ronald Martell, were introduced as backup players. The team began playing beautifully with the system Trelles taught them. They finished the tournament as runner-ups.
The winning streak continued. The only arrival for the 1962-63 tournament was Argentinian goalkeeper, Ataulfo Sánchez, who had to compete with the experienced player Manuel Camacho to fill the gap left by the extraordinary Peruvian, Walter Ormeño, who had to leave the team due to a one-year suspension for assaulting a referee during a match against Toluca in the 1960-61 tournament. Young player Javier “Chalo” Fragoso’s debut is worth noting. He was a team member of americanista background who would become a role model over time. The team came in third in the tournament, but better times were foretold. During this tournament we welcomed Pumas de la Universidad Nacional to First Division. Our first match against them happened on July 1, 1962, during round one at the Ciudad Universitaria Stadium. Back then it was still the Millonetas’ home. The result was favorable for us, 2-0, with goals scored by Francisco Moacyr and Antonio Jasso.
The team improved a lot for the 1963-64 season. We had new player arrivals such as Brazilian Luis Juracy and team Zacatepec’s goalkeeper, Mexican Jorge Iniestra. Our numbers were really good. We had a winning streak from round 3 to 13. We lost against Cañeros during round 14 at the Agustín “Coruco” Díaz Stadium, but Trelles’ team didn’t weaken. América ended the tournament as runner-up, just behind Guadalajara.
The Board decided to let Trelles go, leaving with two seasons as runner-ups and a third place. He did a decent job but we had bigger goals. Argentinian Alejandro Scopelli, who played during the first World Cup in Uruguay 1930, took his place. He already had experience leading teams in South America and Europe since 1939. His first test was the Copa México, nowadays known as “Copa Presidencial”. He couldn’t have a better beginning.
Our team finally won its first title during Emilio Azcárraga’s term. What happened between March 5, when we played the Cup’s round 1 against Orizaba and April 21, when we played the final match against Monterrey, was written in the americanista golden book.
Besides Orizaba, we also eliminated Necaxa and Toluca. During this last game, on April 12, Toluca fans got really mad and started throwing bottles at us. We played two matches in the tournament’s final, defeating the regiomontano gang. We tied the first game 0-0. So the second one would be a match to the death. Once again we tied the game during regulation time, 1-1. José “Pepín” González scored the goal at minute 74. The result would be decided by an exhausting penalty series. Raúl Chávez represented Monterrey while Alfonso “Pescado” Portugal did the same for our team. Each player took six shots, and because we only missed one, we were crowned champions. The lineup “Conejo” Scopelli sent that night into the Olympic Universitario Stadium’s field was:Jorge Iniestra; Juan Manuel ‘Gato’ Lemus, Juan Bosco, Alfonso Portugal, Fernando ‘Perro’ Cuenca; Ángel Osvaldo Schandlein, José ‘Pepín’ González; José Alves ‘Zague’, Javier Fragoso, Luis Juracy and Federico Ortiz Maldonado, who made his debut in the first match of the final.
Our team’s happiness was absolute, and so we started to get ready for the 1964-65 League, Scopelli’s first long tournament leading the team. Alfredo “Negro” del Águila and Argentinian Jorge Abel Vázquez came on board as backup players. Newbie Jorge “Coco” Gómez was promoted from the youth ranks.
We finished fourth in the League tournament, standing out as the team with the least goals scored against. We played against Cruz Azul, recently promoted to First Division for the first time during this competition. It happened on round 13 of the 64-65 League Tournament on August 30, 1964 at the 10 de Diciembre Stadium in Jaso, Hidalgo. The result was favorable for us, 2-1, with goals scored by Marín Ibarreche and Alfonso Portugal.
Great things happened again during the Cup tournament. Two Brazilian cracks came to play for us in this competition: Arlindo “Memín” Dos Santos and Edvaldo Izidio Neto “Vavá” the famous two-time World Cup Champion in Sweden 1958 and Chile 1962.
They couldn’t have had a better debut. We beat Toluca, Zacatepec and Universidad Nacional during the group round. We defeated Cruz Azul in semifinals and Morelia in the final match on March 7, 1965 at the Olímpico Universitario Stadium. The 4-0 score says it all. Javier “Chalo” Fragoso scored two goals at minutes 21 and 50. Vavá made his debut scoring a couple of goals at minutes 53 and 83. Alejandro Scopello became a two-time winner Head Coach. His lineup was: Ataulfo Sánchez; Severo de Sales, Juan Bosco, Alfonso Portugal, Fernando “Perro” Cuenca; Víctor Mendoza, Antonio “Güero” Jasso; Federico Ortiz Maldonado, Javier “Chalo” Fragoso, Edvaldo Izidio Neto ‘Vavá’ and Arlindo dos Santos.
This is how, with two Cup titles to his credit, Alejandro Scopelli would prepare the players to face the 1965-66 League tournament. It would be the last playing as locals at the Olímpico Universitario Stadium, and one that would grant us a great satisfaction.
It was a wonderful season, one in which Zague became top scorer with 20 goals and Arlindo finished as runner-up in the same category with 18. The Cremas were crowned after 38 years of drought in League tournaments. América started playing the tournament with great energy but the title was decided right in round 30, the tournament’s last, playing against Veracruz at the Olímpico Universitario Stadium’s field on Sunday, December 19, 1965. The Cremas had to win and leave Atlas and Guadalajara behind. Our boys did so with an amazing goal scored by Javier “Chalo” Fragoso (34´) and the unforgettable Olympic goal by Jorge “Coco” Gómez just ten minutes away form the match’s end.
There was something odd about América during the tournament: it had three different Coaches in the season, being always or almost always tournament leaders. As mentioned before, “Conejo” Scopelli started the tournament. He led the team from round one to 20. Up next was José “Monche” Moncebáez, his assistant. When Scopelli became ill, he took control of the team until round 25. He used to be our team’s goalkeeper from 1941-42 through 1944-45. Finally and to everyone’s surprise, Uruguayan Roberto Scarone (former americanista player from 1943 to 1945) was appointed new Coach during round 26, with no apparent reason. At first, a duo with Moncebáez himself was announced, but as current Coach, he didn’t accept it. So Scarone was left in charge of leading us to the tournament’s final match against Tiburones Rojos. This was the lineup on the morning we were crowned: Ataulfo Sánchez; Javier “Titino” Martínez, Juan Bosco, Alfonso “Pescado” Portugal, Fernando “Perro” Cuenca; Alfredo “Negro” del Águila, Víctor Mendoza; Jorge “Coco” Gómez, Arlindo dos Santos, José Alves “Zague” and Javier “Chalo” Fragoso.
It was odd, how just 5 rounds away from the tournament’s ending, the americanista Board took the risk of making such a big change. It was fortunate that this great team formed by Scopelli and Moncebáez throughout 25 seasons didn’t fade away. Finally, to the fans’ delight, the team was crowned league champion once again.
In order to celebrate the obtained championship and our first 50 years, América would move to a new stadium of its own. Wonderful, built specifically for a great team, and América was starting to become just that.
When Mr. Emilio Azcárraga Milmo bought the Cremas, he decided to build the Azteca Stadium. Work began on 1962 and lasted 4 years. It was ready for inauguration in 1966 and became the splendid main stadium of Mexico’s World Cup 1970. The Colossus of Santa Úrsula, as it is usually known, was named “Azteca Stadium” thanks to a contest in which every Mexican fan was invited to participate.
It was built by Architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez and inaugurated on May 29, 1966 at 12:00. Over 105,000 spectators gathered in the world’s most modern stadium at the time to witness the inaugural match between América’s Cremas and Italy’s Torino. Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, Mexico’s president at the time, was in charge of the kick off. FIFA’s president, Sir Stanley Rous was his witness.
Fernando Buergo, the best Mexican referee at the time, assisted by his brother Felipe and Ramiro García witnessed the captains’ greeting at the center of the field. Alfonso Portugal as captain of team América, welcomed the world’s soccer. The first goal in the history of the stadium was scored ten minutes into the game. The author, Brazilian Arlindo dos Santos, who with a shot from outside the area made the fans burst with joy. This game ended in a tie, 2-2. José Alves “Zague” scored the second americanista goal. The Italians would react later on and tie the game. For this great match, we jumped into the field with this lineup: Ataulfo Sánchez; Alejandro “Titino” Martínez, Alfonso “Pescado” Portugal, Gilberto Vega, Martín Ibarreche; Víctor Mendoza, Alfredo “Negro” del Águila, Arlindo dos Santos; José Alves “Zague”, Edvaldo Izidio Neto ‘Vavá’ and Jorge ‘Coco’ Gómez. Ángel Papadópulos was our Coach.
On February 1968, president Cañedo called Panchito Hernández to collaborate with him as team Head Coach. Our splendid new azulcrema Coach started making gradual changes to a staff that was starting to grow old. Panchito managed to add four big names to the roster: Robert ‘Monito’ Rodríguez, Guillermo “Campeón” Hernández, Mario “Pichojos” Pérez and the most important and high-profile player: Enrique Borja.
Enrique Borja’s acquisition from team Universidad turned out to be a bombshell for everyone. It was so shocking that, at first, the goal scorer idol emphatically refused to sign the contract. Once Enrique talked with Mr. Cañedo he accepted and maybe without knowing, he signed a contract that would take him to stardom and help him become the ultimate national player, the people’s idol. He had amazing traits as a player and goal scorer but more importantly, he knew his way around people and was a great human being. He always had a spark that kept him connected with the fans, even after his retirement.
Enrique Borja’s acquisition from team Universidad turned out to be a bombshell for everyone. It was so shocking that, at first, the goal scorer idol emphatically refused to sign the contract. Once Enrique talked with Mr. Cañedo he accepted and maybe without knowing, he signed a contract that would take him to stardom and help him become the ultimate national player, the people’s idol. He had amazing traits as a player and goal scorer but more importantly, he knew his way around people and was a great human being. He always had a spark that kept him connected with the fans, even after his retirement.
Change would come for the 1970-71 season in Mexican soccer. It was a radical modification in the competition system, something that would stir up both soccer and clubs. From then on, a match’s champion team would be defined in a final series, with an away and home game played between the two winners of each group in the tournament. This is how the Liguilla was born.
And it’s precisely with the creation of the Liguilla that América was born as a true protagonist. A new team was assembled, men whose names were written in history as part of the first champion team ever in a Liguilla. The new americanista players were: Fernando Santillán, Luis Miguel Barberena, Prudencio “Pajarito” Cortés, Eduardo del Mazo, Roberto “Negro” Hodge and Antonio Martins “Toninho”. We also had legendary players from past seasons: Alfredo del Águila and Fernando “Perro” Cuenca, as well as Horacio López Salgado, René “Popeye” Trujillo, Amado “Tarzán” Palacios and the rookies Juan Manuel Borbolla, Sergio Ceballos, Antonio Zamora, Luis Haneine, Rubén Cárdenas, José Luis Rosette, “Pichojos” Pérez, “Campeón” Hernández and “Monito” Rodríguez, plus the already mentioned Borja, and Reinoso. Oddly, América started off the 1970-71 championship with the wrong foot. Argentinian coach Luis Grill had little success and led the team until round 8, at that time we were ranked in 14th place. He is most remembered for letting go the great Javier “Chalo” Fragoso, adored by thousands of fans that never understood why he got rid of such a popular player. And so it was that José Antonio Roca, who worked at the Mexican Soccer Federation in an administrative position, came to the club as coach! Pedro Portilla, who was leading the team at the time, made the suggestion to Mr. Cañedo. Roca started putting things in order and made a very criticized change at the time: he moved winger López Salgado, relocating him to his natural position, center forward. He alternated with Borja, who finally became a starter player and not just that, he was also named the tournament’s top scorer with 20 goals. Still, López Salgado became an amazing back up player. Roca also put Roberto “Monito” Rodríguez as right-winger and Juan Borbolla on the left, two unbelievably swift players. The best midfielder in Mexico joined the mix, Chilean Hodge as defense, Brazilian “Toninho” as midfielder and the best “tactician” in Mexico, Reinoso. Few people imagined Roca would succeed. The team finished first in the league rankings, securing its place in the final game against Toluca, the other group’s leader. On a double showdown, August 1, 1971 at the Azteca Stadium, América was crowned champion, 2-2, with goals scored by Reinoso (12’) and López Salgado (74’). Roca’s lineup that day was: Prudencio Cortés; René Trujillo, Antonio Zamora, Guillermo Hernández, Mario Pérez; Roberto Hodge, Antonio Martins “Toninho”, Carlos Reinoso; Roberto Rodríguez, Enrique Borja (Horacio López Salgado 45’) and Juan Manuel Borbolla.
If season 1970-71 was excellent, 1971-72 was no different. The players were already adapted and only one change was registered: Horacio López Salgado out, Chilean Osvaldo Castro in. He was best know as “Pata Bendita” and came from Deportes Concepción, a club in his country. The Cremas, all carried away, had a great tournament. They summed 48 points and more goals were scored. Enrique Borja was crowned top scorer again, this time with 26 goals. The team, as the champion it was, played in a superb way. Hopes were high like never before and everyone wanted them to win the title as they did in the past year. The team played the final game against Cruz Azul on July 9, 1972 and despite being the favorite, lost 1-4 in what has been one of the biggest americanista disappointments in history. Borja’s goal scoring at minute 90 didn’t do anything to help assimilate such a disaster. The rivalry between these two teams from the Capital was born during this match. Cruz Azul moved from Hidalgo to start playing at the Azteca Stadium from that campaign on. This divided soccer fans in Mexico City and once they became champions, started gaining a significant amount of followers. It was a painful defeat, but what was done during that season, was done.
The Cup tournament was played immediately after, in the same 1971-72 campaign. Worthy of pointing out is a midfield goal scored against Atlético Español by Carlos Reinoso on the morning of August 20. The Chilean scored the historic goal when the match was restarted after a goal was scored against us. The goalkeeper, Carlos Enrique Vázquez del Mercado, was a former Crema. That goal was seen all around the country, it was embedded in everyone’s mind since King Pelé had tried a similar action during the World Cup in Mexico 1970, and didn’t managed to score.
A minor decline came after two great seasons. During the 1972-73 season the team didn’t manage to qualify for the Liguilla. Among the few outstanding things that happened during the tournament: América offered great performances and every stadium they played at was full. Two great players came to the team as backups: Scotch (naturalized Canadian) John Kerr and Mexican right-winger Albino Morales. With them in the field and under Reinoso’s leadership, Enrique Borja was crowned top scorer for the third time in a row with 24 goals. A historical deed achieved by “Cyrano”.
Season 1973-74 was without a doubt, one of the worst since the beginning of the Liguilla era. First, many injuries reduced the team. Among the players affected were Reinoso, Juan Manuel Herrero, Alejandro Ojeda and Sergio Ceballos. Uruguayans Guatavo León and Oribe Maciel came to the team as well as Brazilian Jader de Silva. Only the first one delivered.
The tournament was suspended because the National Team would play in Haiti and try to secure its place in the World Cup Germany 1974. The Cup tournament was played during this time. Our goal scorer Enrique Borja left to play for the National Team, so coach Roca gave Osvaldo “Pata Bendita” Castro the chance to play as center forward in this competition. We had some notable absences and backup players. Rookie Lino Espín, defender that came from Zacatepec, made his debut against Torreón during round 1. Something worth mentioning happened during this match: José Ángel Alcalá committed a foul on Uruguayan Oribe Maciel inside the area at minute 80, so referee Fermín Ramírez Zermeño awarded a penalty. Reinoso, our official shooter, took his place in front of the ball as he always did when he was ready to shoot. The referee whistled and “Pichojos” Pérez suddenly came inside the area, touched the ball at the front and took the shot before Raúl “Güero” Navarro, rival goalkeeper, could stop it. Fans and players were shocked at the way the penalty was shot. Nobody fully understood what had happened. Rules allow two or more taps in a penalty, even though it’s not common. Our Cremas took the chance but in the end the goal wasn’t scored. The ball missed the rival goal and went sideways. Finally, we won the match by the minimum difference. Besides Diablos Blancos, we faced Atlante, Cruz Azul, Universidad Nacional and Jalisco in the group round. We made it to the semifinals where we defeated Zacatepec and then played the final game against Cruz Azul. We defeated the Cementeros in two matches. We tied 1-1 in the away game and won 2-1 in the home game, played on December 16, 1973. Hodge scored at minute 8 and Castro at 63, in what represented some kind of revenge for our defeat during season’s 1971-72 final match. The team was assembled this way that afternoon: Prudencio Cortés; Fernando Santillán, Luis Miguel Barberena, Lino Espín, Mario Pérez; Gustavo León, Roberto Hodge, Carlos Reinoso; Sergio Ceballos (Alejandro Ojeda 55’), Osvaldo Castro and Juan Manuel Borbolla (Luis Haneine 88’). .
It’s worth mentioning that “Pata Bendita” played well and got the Cup’s top scorer title with 10 goals scored. Roca had a dilemma. He didn’t know who would play once the League restarted now that Borja was coming back. An injury made things easier for our coach and Osvaldo took his place as starter player, repeating an extraordinary moment when we was crowned again as the League’s top scorer, with 26. Club América had the top scorer champion among its ranks for the fourth time in a row. It also had the Cup title, obtained by its amazing players. These were the most outstanding deeds, since we didn’t qualify to the Liguilla for the second year in a row. Cruz Azul would be crowned League champion and face our team again at the Champion of Champions game on May 26, 1974. The cementeros won 2-1. Sergio Ceballos scored the only americanista goal. Starter player Luis Miguel Barberena was injured during the game, so Roca replaced him with a boy from the youth ranks. This was Alfredo Tena Garduño’s debut. At the time, this decision was highly criticized by the media and press. They considered it was risky to let a rookie play in such a big and important game. But Roca saw something in Tena and gave him the responsibility. He delivered.
The Cup left us great satisfaction, but we hadn’t been able to fight for the league title since the last two tournaments. The Board made some renovations. Rafael Puente, Marcos Rivas, Silvio Fogel, José Valdéz, Antonio de la Torre, Alejandro Romahn, Miguel Ángel Cornero, Jaime Álvarez, Raymundo Correa “Lola” and Néstor Rafael Verderi arrived, ten players! Unfortunately we didn’t get great results and for the third time in a row, the team didn’t make it to the Liguilla. We were not able to win the Cup title once again, so Antonio Roca stepped down as Head Coach, after five years leading us.
There was only one valuable thing to remember from this disastrous season: we made it to the final round of the Cup tournament, competition in which youth ranks rookie, Cristóbal Ortega, made his debut. It happened on October 5, 1974, playing against Ciudad Madero at the Azteca Stadium and we won 4-0. He was a sensation and they even invited him to play an exhibition game at the Maracaná Stadium, right next to King Pelé himself.
Once Roca was gone, Guillermo Cañedo and Panchito Hernández decided to appoint Raúl Cárdenas as new Head Coach. Season 1975-76 would present a challenge for the players loyal to Roca, who didn’t quite like the arrival of a new coach who had defeated them several times, being the most painful season’s 71-72 final game. After having won it all with Cruz Azul, Cárdenas was bogged down, but he came to América to reassure his knowledge. The Board would have to prove they were right in bringing their archrival coach on board, to azulcrema territory.
Cárdenas’ first words were: “América has wonderful players but we need to reinforce our structure. We will have to change our way of thinking and style, I will impose my own style”. And surprisingly to many people, he asked to bring veteran players as backups. Javier Sánchez Galindo, Francisco Castrejón, Cesáreo Victorino and World Cup England 1966 veteran crack, Alcindo Martha de Freitas, came first. Paraguayan Hugo Enrique Kiese and Chilean Manuel Rojas would come later.
The first test was the Cup tournament, which they successfully passed, all the way to the final game, which we lost against Tigres de la UANL. Players took a little time trying to assimilate the new system but over time, they performed amazingly during the league and the team ended up as super leader, obtaining a place in the Liguilla, after three years of fasting. Cárdenas’ first task was complete. Once in the final round, the Cremas had a perfect participation, defeating Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara during quarterfinals, Unión de Curtidores in semifinals and Universidad de Guadalajara in the final match.
We played the away game at the Jalisco Stadium on August 4, 1976. Three goals were scored: Alcindo (47’), Kiese (87’) and Reinoso (92’). Reinoso’s goal is considered one of the best in americanista history. He scored it “rabona” style after slipping past three players. We hammered Leones Negros and every thing was set for Sunday, August 8 at the Azteca Stadium. The Millonetas were crowned champions, defeating the tapatío team 1-0 with an amazing goal scored by Paraguayan Kiese at minute 63. “Güero” Cárdenas’ lineup for that day was: Paco Castrejón; René Trujillo, Miguel Ángel Cornero, Javier Sánchez Galindo, Mario Pérez; Javier García, Antonio de la Torre, Cesáreo Victorino; Carlos Reinoso, Alcindo Martha de Freitas and Hugo Enrique Kiese. Amazing team!
Just one week after, we jumped into the Azteca’s field to face Tigres de la Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Cup Champions. We defeated them 2-0 with goals scored by “Confesor” Miguel Ángel Cornejo at minute 37 and “Gran Chaparral” Carlos Reinoso at 44. Paco Castrejón; René Trujillo, Miguel Ángel Cornero, Javier Sánchez Galindo, Mario Pérez; Javier García, Antonio de la Torre, Cesáreo Victorino (Cristóbal Ortega 46’); Carlos Reinoso, Alcindo Martha de Freitas (Enrique Borja 75’) and Hugo Enrique Kiese played that morning. We got even for the defeat suffered during the Cup final game and became Champion of Champions in 75-76.
To close with a perfect finale this wonderful tournament, we finished up with an unbeaten record. We had exactly 775 minutes without receiving a goal against us. The last goal scored against América in the tournament was during round 37, on July 11 playing against León when the “Panzas Verdes” forward, Walter Daniel Mantegazza scored 25 minutes into the game. Then came the matches in round 38 against Zacatepec (4-0 with Puente as goalkeeper), quarterfinals against Tecos de la UAG (1-0 and 0-0 with Castrejón and Verderi respectively as goalkeepers), semifinals against Curtidores (1-0 and 1-0 with Castrejón as goalkeeper, like every other game), as well as the final match against U. de G. (3-0 and 1-0). We also have to add the game between champions against Tigres de la UANL (2-0). So we had a perfect Liguilla, no goals scored against us. This was established as a national record, since no other team in the history of Mexican soccer had ever been crowned without receiving a goal against during the final stage. Extraordinary work of our new coach Raúl Cárdenas!
For season 1977-78, after having had an outstanding performance in 76-77, placing second in the ranking and just a step away from playing the final game, successes would still come for Cárdenas and company, now at an international level. América was crowned Champion of CONCACAF Champions Cup, in a series of two games played in Paramaribo, Surinam, at the André Kamperveen Stadium against the country’s champion: SV Robinhood. We won the first match on January 15, 1-0, with a goal scored by Luiz Alberto da Costa “Luizinho at minute 49. We tied the second match played on January 18, 1-1, with a goal scored by Hugo Enrique Kiese at minute 70. Raúl Cárdenas’ lineup was: Pedro Soto; Jesús “Palillo” Martínez, Javier Sánchez Galindo, Alfredo Tena, Mario “Pichojos” Pérez; Narciso Ramírez, Antonio de la Torre, Hugo Kiese; Carlos Reinoso (José de Jesús Aceves 46’), Ítalo Estupiñán and Luiz Alberto da Costa ‘Luizinho’.
“Güero” Cárdenas obtained one more title for América, but more importantly, we earned the right to represent the CONCACAF region against the champion of Copa Libertadores de América, to win the title of Copa Interamericana, awarded to the continent’s best team. Our rival was no more, no less than Boca Juniors, the most important and famous Argentinian champion.
The first match took place in Buenos Aires, on March 14, 1978 at the famous field of “La Bombonera”. The local team defeated us 3-0. The tournament rules stated that, if each team won a match no matter the score, there would be a third one for untying. And so it was that on April 12, at the Azteca Stadium, we defeated the Xeneize squad by the minimum difference, with a goal scored by Hugo Kiese at minute 75. A third match would be played 48 hours later, at the Azteca Stadium.
So, both teams faced each other on the 14th. Quickly enough, the Argentinian team took the advantage in the score board, but at minute 35 José de Jesús “el Güero” Aceves scored a great goal. The game remained like this all the way until the end. During the last play of the match, at minute 120 of full time, a foul was committed against us outside the Argentinian area. Brazilian referee, Siles, awarded a penalty. He also announced that after this play, the match would come to an end. Carlos Reinoso put his magic to work and shot the direct kick, raising our team’s name once again by scoring an amazing historic goal that no one would ever forget, especially the famous and controversial Argentinian goalkeeper, Hugo Orlando “El Loco” Gatti. “El Gran Chaparral” just let him stand there while he shot the penalty. The goalkeeper had nothing to do but watch the ball go right inside, after getting past the barrier of players he personally put together!
The night’s heroes were: Paco Castrejón; René Trujillo, Eduardo Rergis, Javier Sánchez Galindo, Jesús Martínez, Javier García, Antonio de la Torre, Reinoso; Hugo Enrique Kiese, José de Jesús Aceves, (Ítalo Estupiñán 67’) and Luiz Alberto da Costa ‘Luizinho’ (Alfredo Tena 60’).
For season 1978-79 the Board decided to reinforce the team even more with Brazilian José Dirceu Guimarães, recently named third best player in the world at the World Cup Argentina 1978. Chilean crack and left-winger Miguel Ángel Gamboa was also hired, as well as Javier “Hijín” Cárdenas, member of the Mexican National Team. Vinicio Bravo, multi-functional defender from the youth ranks, made his debut. Things didn’t go well and Raúl Cárdenas, Carlos Reinoso and Ítalo Estupiñán left the team mid-season. José de Jesús Aceves and Luiz Alberto da Costa “Luizinho” changed teams when the tournament had already begun. Panchito Hérnández quickly hired a couple of foreign players who would try to help the team: Brazilian Osvaldo Faria and Argentinian Héctor Miguel Zelada, goalkeeper that would leave a deep mark on the team. The new temporary coach was our old friend, Alejandro “Conejo” Scopelli. We made it to the Liguilla but not the final match.
The 1979-80 season was a great tournament for our team, despite not having being able to become champions. José Antonio Roca, the always loved and admired coach, returned to lead the americanista team. The first thing he did for the new season and his second term in the club was a restructuring, more players would be leaving and only a few would be arriving. Javier Sánchez Galindo, last americanista captain since Reinoso’s retirement, René Trujillo, Cesáreo Víctorino, Francisco Castrejón and rookie Pedro Vega. Javier Cárdenas and José Dirceu Guimarães left the team unnoticed once the tournament began. The club hired Brazilian Jorge Luis da Silva “Fumanchú” as well as Argentinian Rubén Omar Romano, half way through the tournament.
We qualified to the Liguilla in first place, but we didn’t manage to play the final match for the second year in a row. Roca made us work well, but more importantly, he assembled a homogeneous team. Carlos de los Cobos, Juan Antonio Luna, Javier Aguirre, Rubén Abarca and Jesús Mendizabal, youth rank rookies made their debuts, plus young Mario Trejo and Vinicio Bravo. Manolo Rodríguez and Armando Manzo (who would play with his brother Agustín for the first time) also joined the team. We had the valued support of experienced team leaders, Alfredo Tena, Cristóbal Ortega, Eduardo Rergis, Jesús “Palillo” Martínez and Javier “Chocolate” García. This was how América would assemble a team with its youngest players ever, since Argentinians Zelada and Romano were also still very young. Goal scorer Miguel Ángel Gamboa and Brazilian duo “Bill” Faria and “Fumanchú” turned out to be the experienced players in the group. Youth, experience and love for the team were combined, probably the best americanista team of all time was about to be born.
The best decade in the club’s history would ironically start on a very bad note. Season 1980-81 was the only one during the eighties in which the team didn’t qualify for the liguilla. José Antonio Roca left the team during the round 33. Immediately after, Carlos Reinoso, the americanista legend, was named new Head Coach. That’s how “Maestro” Roca passed the torch to his student, who took the lead of the azulcrema on June 10, 1981.
There was a big change in leadership within the team before playing round 37. On June 3, 1981, Emilio Díez Barroso, nephew of Mr. Emilio Azcárraga Milmo and high executive from Televisa, was presented as the new president; taking Mr. Guillermo Cañedo de la Bárcena’s place. He was an exceptional president, with no possible comparisons whatsoever both as a director and as a human being. He was loved by everyone, and was even part of the FIFA Board of Directors. He left his position after 20 years in which he gave the Aérica a makeover and made the team great.
Díez Barroso set the goal to take América to the place it needed to be, the top. He planned three steps to achieve an extraordinary soccer team. First, the team was to hire foreign players to invigorate and restructure the team. Second, the uniform had to not only be changed but revolutionized. This new uniform ended tradition; it featured a big blue triangle on the chest that turned into a rectangle once it reached the back. It had a “V” neck also in blue and quarter length sleeves had diagonal stripes in the same shade of blue and vivid reds. The rest of the uniform was bright yellow, similar to egg yolks. And third, they had to change the name they were commonly known as for a more seasoned one, one that would give their image strength. This was how the Cremas ceased to exist and on September 20, 1981, the team was presented at the Azteca Stadium to media outlets as the Águilas del América
Season 1981- 82 started, the first one for the new Águilas. Argentinian reinforcements Norberto Outes, Eduardo Bacas y Mario Marcelo Favaretto, who only played one game, would join the team. Brazilian player Nilton Pinheiro da Silva, better known as “Batata”, reached prominence during this time even though he had been a part of the team since the past season. Since the Mexican base player remained the same, the team had no trouble adjusting. The team only reached semifinals, but every game improved their image.
During the 1982-83 campaign, Argentinian Alberto Daniel Brailovsky, a young extraordinary player with a rare individual technique left the Independiente to join the team. This season the team broke every possible record: most victories with 26, with 61 points obtained, best effectiveness average with 80.3% (61 points obtained out of 76 possible). Norberto Outes earned the crown as top scorer with 22 goals scored.
Unfortunately, we failed to reach our objective and were eliminated during semifinals, after a historical dispute at the Azteca Stadium against Deportivo Guadalajara on May 22, 1983.
But the rematch came soon and during the 1983-84 league tournament, the work from all past years finally paid off and we were crowned as champions after defeating Chivas Rayadas del Guadalajara, who defeated us the year before, during finals. We finished as super leaders by defeating Monterrey (2-1 global) and Cruz Azul (2-0 global) during quarter finals. The final away game took place on June 6, 1984 at Jalisco Stadium and ended with a tie of two goals. Carlos Hermosillo, a young and lethal player that had debuted this season with the team opened the score on minute 9. At 63 minutes, Mario Trejo scored a second goal. We reached a tie when we lost Carlos de los Cobos after he was expelled.
Things didn’t look good when Armando Manzo got himself expelled after 26 minutes. Once again the rival was playing with more men than us, the same way as in the last away game and semifinals of last year. Before the first half was over, Guadalajara was awarded a penalty and with it the chance to change everything. But Héctor Miguel Zelada stopped Eduardo Cisneros’ shot, and with this he pumped the team and the crowd with a dose of courage, enthusiasm and confidence. With ten men, and an exceptional technical direction from the “Maestro” Carlos Reinoso; Eduardo Bacas at 57’, Alfredo Tena at 65’, and Javier Aguirre at 90’ scored the goals that led América to win the only league final that has been played as a Classic of Classics. That cloudy morning, the lineup was as follows: Héctor Miguel Zelada; Mario Trejo, Alfredo Tena, Armando Manzo, Vinicio Bravo; Ortega, de los Cobos, Brailovsky, Aguirre; Hermosillo (Juan Antonio Luna 60’) and Gustavo Pedro Echaniz (Eduardo Bacas 46’).
We would reach bi-championship during season 1984-85. Carlos de los Cobos and Javier Aguirre left the team and Gonzalo Farfán, an amazing player, would join the team. The squad performed well but nothing extraordinary. Carlos Reinoso had to leave his position as Head Coach due to illness after round 23 and Argentinian trainer Miguel Ángel “Zurdo” López took his place. We qualified fourth in the liguilla, where we eliminated Guadalajara (3-0 global) and Atlas (1-1 and penaltyes).
The final would be played against Universidad Nacional, leader in the tournament. The first match was played at the Azteca on May 23, 1985 and ended in a tie 1-1, Carlos Hermosillo scored in our favor on 90’. On May 26, at the Olímpico Universitario Stadium in Querétaro, we tied with no goals scored which led to a third definitive duel. The night of May 29, at the “La Corregidora” stadium, América won 3-1 against all odds. Alberto Daniel Brailovsky was like the sun on the field and scored two goals at 11’ (penalty) and at 53’, he schooled on how to move about the field and play soccer. Carlos Hermosillo, after failing to score several times, scored the third goal for las Águilas at 76’. The players “Zurdo” López sent to the field were: Héctor Miguel Zelada; Mario Trejo, Alfredo Tena, Armando Manzo, Vinicio Bravo; Cristóbal Ortega, Alejandro Domínguez, Juan Antonio Luna, Eduardo Bacas; Alberto Daniel Brailovsky and Carlos Hermosillo.Due to the criticism referee Joaquín Urrea got during this match from americanista opposers, rivalry was born against Pumas from Universidad Nacional
The following season would be special due to the fact that Mexico was set to be, for the second time in history, the host of a Soccer World Championship in 1986. It was decided that this tournament would be played without any national players, so they would integrate the Mexican team. We contributed with five players for the TRI: Carlos Hermosillo, Alejandro Domínguez, Armando Manzo, Mario Alberto Trejo and Carlos de los Cobos, who returned to the team. That’s how the Prode 85’ began, in which we would be crowned champions for the third time in a row. It was a short tournament. In the liguilla we eliminated Guadalajara University (3-1 global) during quarterfinals and Atlante (5-3 global). The final was disputed against Tampico Madero. After overcoming a severe initial disadvantage, we achieved something great. We categorically lost the away game at Tamaulipas Stadium 1-4 the night of October 3, 1985. The goal that Cristóbal Ortega scored at 46’ would remain crucial, because during the home game, played on the 6th of the same month at Azteca Stadium, we managed to surpass the “Jaiba Brava” during over time scoring 4-0. We hammered them with two goals from Eduardo Bacas, both as penalties at 57’ and 119’. Rookie player Ricardo Peláez, made his debut during this tournament and opened the score at 54’ while Ramón Ireta scored at 80’. This match had a cardiac finale, because the second penalty took place on the final play of the game. The men the “Zurdo” López had on the field that morning, with which he achieved his second league championship with our team, were: Héctor Miguel Zelada; Manolo Rodríguez (Jorge Martínez 30’), Alfredo Tena, Efraín Herrera, Vinicio Bravo; Cristóbal Ortega, Juan Antonio Luna, Eduardo Bacas, Gonzalo Farfán (Ramón Ireta 75’); Efraín ‘Fanny’ Munguía and Ricardo Peláez.
Prode 85’ was followed by a short tournament, Mexico 86’, in which young Mexican player Luis Roberto Alves “Zaguingo” made his debut with our team. He was son of our former player and top scorer José Alves “Zague”.
For season 1986-87, National Team players came back and once again, our team had a great tournament. But they only made it to the quarterfinals.
For season 1987-88 there was a change in staff, both players and coach. Our new Head Coach was Argentinian Vicente Cayetano Rodríguez. It seemed like he would be successful because as soon as the League tournament started, we played Concacaf Champions tournament and won. We defeated Trinidad and Tobago’s champion, the Defense Force, 2-0, at the Azteca Stadium on October 28, 1987. Juan Antonio Luna scored at minute 63 and Antonio Carlos Santos, Brazilian crack of recent incorporation that would become an americanista figure over time, at minute 90. We tied the away game 1-1, played at the rival stadium. “Cabezón” Luna himself scored the goal. And so América, with Cayetano on the helm, became the new Concacaf champion. Our lineup was: Adrián Chávez; Manolo Rodríguez, Guillermo Huerta, José Vaca, Efraín Herrera; Cristóbal Ortega, Juan Antonio Luna, Julio César Uribe, Antonio Carlos Santos; Carlos Hermosillo (Gonzalo Farfán) and Luis Roberto Alves “Zaguinho” (Robinson Hernández).
It seemed like the Argentinian coach would be able to handle the team, but América didn’t move forward during the League tournament and he was replaced by Brazilian Jorge Vieira, who lifted up the team and helped it climb up the ranking all the way to first place. Besides Antonio Carlos Santos, Julio César Uribe and Robinson Hernández were also hired, but played for a very short time.
We defeated Puebla during quarterfinals (6-2 global) and Morelia (5-5 global and penalties) in the liguilla. We played the final against Pumas de la Universidad Nacional. We lost the away game 1-0, played at the Olímpico Universitario Stadium on June 30, 1988. But we hammered them 4-1 on the home game at the Azteca Stadium and were crowned champions. Gonzalo Farfán scored two goals at minutes 20 and 50, Adrián Camacho at 51 and a penalty shot by Antonio Carlos Santos at minute 66. Vieira’s men that morning were: Adrián Chávez; Manolo Rodríguez, Alfredo Tena, Guillermo Huerta, Efraín Herrera; Cristóbal Ortega, Gonzalo Farfán, Antonio Carlos Santos; Adrián Camacho (Roberto Aldrete 57’), Carlos Hermosillo (Efraín Munguia 57’) and Robinson Hernández. .
Three days later we traveled to Puebla to play the away game for the Champion of Champion’s trophy at the Cuauhtémoc Stadium. Camoteros won 2-1 and everything was set for the home game. Gonzalo Farfán’s goal scored at minute 67 proved to be vital, given that on the home game, played on July 10, we defeated Puebla 2-0 and turned the score around. Carlos Hermosillo (14’) and Guillermo Huerta (74’) scored our goals and we got one more trophy to display in our cabinet. Vieira’s lineup: Adrián Chávez; Manolo Rodríguez, José Vaca, Guillermo Huerta, Efraín Herrera; Cristóbal Ortega, Gonzalo Farfán, Antonio Carlos Santos (Efraín Munguía 65’); Adrián Camacho (Roberto Aldrete 68’), Carlos Hermosillo and Luis Roberto Alves “Zaguinho”. .
The honeymoon between América and its fans would go on, since we achieved the bi-championship on season 1988-89. Unlike the past tournament, América didn’t wipe out anyone, just had a regular tournament, but it was more than enough to qualify for the liguilla. Two significant wingers came to the team: Mexican Juan Hernández and Uruguayan Cesilio de los Santos. They would become key elements in Coach Vieira’s assembly. Under the Round Robin system, we left Guadalajara, Puebla and Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara with no chance of playing the liguilla.
Seventeen years had to pass for a new liguilla final showdown between América and Cruz Azul. We won the first game (3-2) on July 13, 1989 with scorings by Luis Roberto Alves “Zaguinho” at minute 2, Carlos Hermosillo at 32, and a penalty shot by Antonio Carlos Santos at 59. Sunday 16 would have a double significance. First of all, we were crowned bi-champions in the home game with a tie of 2-2, goals scored by Juan Hernández at minute 6 and Carlos Hermosillo at 32. Secondly, we settled the score from season 71-72 by taking away their opportunity of becoming champions. The global score was 5-4 in our favor. Our lineup was: Adrián Chávez; Juan Hernández, Guillermo Huerta, Alfredo Tena (Eduardo Córdova 21’), Cesilio de los Santos; Cristóbal Ortega, Gonzalo Farfán, Alejandro Domínguez, Antonio Carlos Santos; Carlos Hermosillo and Luis Roberto Alves “Zaguinho” (Carlos Seixas 70’).
Four days later, on July 20, América finished a year of soccer conquering the Champion of Champions title. We defeated Toluca 2-0 at the Azteca Stadium with goals scored by Hermosillo at minute 23 and Seixas at 110, in what was another fantastic season for Jorge Vieira. His lineup was as follows: Adrián Chávez; Juan Hernández, Guillermo Huerta, Alejandro Domínguez, Cesilio de los Santos; Cristóbal Ortega, Gonzalo Farfán, Eduardo Córdova, Antonio Carlos Santos (Adrián Camacho 69’); Carlos Hermosillo (Efraín Munguía 64’) and Luis Roberto Alves “Zaguinho”. .
We still managed to finish the decade with a splendid 1989-90 season. Two world-class cracks came to play for the team: Brazilian Eduardo dos Santos “Edú Manga” and Paraguayan Raúl Vicente Amarilla. The team played great, had a perfect walk, scored many goals and ended up as super leaders. A refereeing mistake by José Antonio Garza y Ochoa, took us away the right to play for what would be our third championship in a row. We were eliminated on semifinals against Universidad de Guadalajara for a penalty that shouldn’t have been awarded.
The nineties started off successfully for América. To begin with, we got to play the tournament’s three finals of season 1990-91. We finished as runner ups in the League tournament as well as the Cup tournament. The Cup final came first. We played against Leones Negros de la Universidad de Guadalajara, with whom we lost in two games by the minimum difference.
For the season’s second final, we faced Pinar del Río from Cuba at CONCACAF Champions Cup. First as visitors on February 19, 1991, we tied 2-2 with goals scored by Guillermo Huerta at minute 25 and Teodoro dos Santos “Tonhino” at 31. We played the away game on March 12 at the Azteca Stadium, hammering the Cuban team 6-0 with goals scored by Teodoro dos Santos “Tonhino” at minutes 3, 9 and 84 and Luis Roberto Alves “Zaguinho” at 68 and 80. An own goal by Osmín Hernández at minute 85 sealed the deal. We won the title with a global score of 8-2. Our Head Coach, Carlos Miloc, sent the following lineup to the field: Alejandro “Gallo” García (Adrián Chávez 46’), Juan Hernández (Guillermo Huerta 70’), Enrique Rodón, Alfredo Tena, Cesilio de los Santos; Cristóbal Ortega, Alejandro Domínguez, Gonzalo Farfán; Efraín Munguía, Teodoro dos Santos “Toninho” and Luis Roberto Alves “Zaguinho” .
The League was our third final of the season and it was praiseworthy. We were having a rough start in the tournament. Our coach, Serbian Dragoslav Šekularac, was never able to find a way to train the team, so he left us after round 23 when the team was having a bad time. He was replaced by Miloc, an extremely experienced and brilliant coach, a winner par excellence. He had a reputation for being a tough and strict coach. “Tanque” gave the team their illusion and ideals back. His connection was so strong we got to play for the title, which Pumas de la Universidad won in the end. We tied the global score 3-3, losing only because of the breakthrough rule of “visiting goal”. We won 3-2 at the Azteca Stadium, and lost 1-0 at CU. What the team did remained etched with great satisfaction.
Season 1991-92 started well for América until round 4, with 2 triumphs and two tied games. Round’s 5 match would be rescheduled to give way for the home game of the Copa Interamericana final against the champion of Copa Libertadores, Paraguay’s team Olimpia on October 12, 1991. Previously, on October 2 during the away game at Defensores del Chaco Stadium in Paraguay, América obtained a valuable tie of 1-1. “Edú” scored the goal at minute 9. The 75th anniversary of our club’s foundation was celebrated on this date as well. We were CONCACAF champions, came out as favorites and we didn’t make anyone look bad since we won 2-1 with two goals scored by Teodoro dos Santos “Toninho” at minutes 7 and 49. Our winning lineup was:Alejandro “Gallo” García; Juan Hernández, Alejandro Domínguez, Enrique Rodón, Cesilio de los Santos; Eduardo Córdoba (José Vaca 26’), Gonzalo Farfán, Antonio Carlos Santos; Eduardo dos Santos “Edú”, Teodoro dos Santos “Toninho” (Arturo Cañas 64’) . It was the second time in history and first for a Mexican team to be crowned two-time Copa Interamericana champions. The Águilas played a powerful, tough and rough game.
It was so rough that a brawl stirred up 50 minutes into the game when Paraguayan Julio César Romero, “Romerito”, came hard at “Edú”. To everyone’s surprise, americanista coach Carlos Miloc, went inside the field fired up by the Paraguayan’s aggression. Guarani player, Fermín Balbuena told him something, so Miloc punched him, making him fall to the ground. Seeing this, his teammate Delgado hit Miloc and made him fall too. More players got involved but the quarrel fortunately didn’t last long. Our coach was expelled and resigned the day after, over an imminent sanction awarded by FIFA: one-year suspension for assaulting a rival player.
Miloc’s exit damaged our team. They were never able to recover from such an emotional blow. Our new coach was famous ex Brazilian player Paulo Roberto Falcao, but his arrival didn’t help much and our team didn’t do well on the 1991-92 championship. We were eliminated during the qualifying heat, right before the Liguilla, Cruz Azul defeated us.
Panchito Hernández kept Falcao as coach for season 1992-93. President Díaz Barroso did everything he could to repatriate Mexican idol Hugo Sánchez Márquez, who played with Real Madrid at the time, and where he had a successful career. Argentinian Germán Martelotto, Monterrey’s goal scorer and creative was also hired. We participated in the League and CONCACAF tournaments. We only had good results in the second one, getting all the way to the final, right in between the League tournament.
The domestic tournament’s situation was different. The Brazilian coach couldn’t handle it anymore, so he was terminated in round 16, but not without first having the audacity of letting substitute goalkeeper Adrián Chávez play as center forward during a match against Querétaro, at the Azteca Stadium on November 8, 1992. He left the team a little while after that and his place was taken by our old acquaintance and two-time champion Miguel Ángel “Zurdo” López.
Our monarch coach arrived for the 84-85 tournaments and Prode 85. He injected a dose of vitality and adrenaline into the team. The first thing he did after arriving to his first training at Coapa, after six years of absence, was getting to know all the players. He turned around to watch the youth ranks and a boy caught his eye. His playing style was bold, swift, cunning and confrontational. He liked him so much that he included him in the First Team. He called him to the gathering prior to the match against Cruz Azul on November 29, 1992. He decided to let the boy play during the following round against León at Camp Nou Stadium, on December 5. His name: Cuauhtémoc Blanco, a raw diamond.
La primera prueba de fuego para López se presentó el 5 de enero de 1993 ante el Alajuelense de Costa Rica en la final de la Copa de Campeones de la Concacaf, disputada en Santa Ana, California. Con gol a los 67 minutos del ‘Pichichi’ Hugo Sánchez, el América consiguió un trofeo más para nuestras vitrinas. De nueva cuenta, nuestro equipo era el campeón de la Concacaf. Esa noche el ‘Zurdo’ dispuso la siguiente alineación: Alejandro ‘Gallo’ García; Juan Hernández, Óscar Ruggeri, Enrique Rodón, Cesilio de los Santos; Raúl Rodrigo Lara, Gonzalo Farfán, Germán Martelotto; Francisco Uribe (Alejandro Domínguez 76’), Hugo Sánchez y Luis Roberto Alves ‘Zaguinho’.
The team’s enthusiasm and mentality were enough to improve results. We made it all the way to the semifinals back at the local tournament. We were eliminated by Monterrey in what was a dark night, regarding refereeing skills. Bernie Ulloa, referee from Costa Rica invited by the Mexican Soccer Association to preside over the game, had an unfortunate performance and annulled three of our scored goals on the night of May 25.
This would be the first of four championships in a row where we would go as far as the semifinals stage. In season 1993-94 we lost to Tecos de la UAG 3-4 in the global score. “Zurdo” left the team at this point. Season 1994-95 was an excellent one for América. Dutch Leo Beenhakker was our coach. Successful and champion with Real Madrid, he shook up the team with a couple of African players: Kalusha Bwalya, captain of Zambia’s National Team and François Omam Biyik, national team player from Cameroon. This two soccer players, along with Luis Roberto Alves “Zaguinho”, Cuauhtémoc Blanco and Joaquín del Olmo, had an unusual understanding and the team played in perfect synchronicity. Unfortunately, our coach was let go in an untimely manner, so we weren’t able to finish the tournament the best way. Cruz Azul eliminated us by a global score of 3-2 during the semifinal. For the 1995-96 tournament, the last long tournament to date in Mexican soccer, we had two different Argentinian coaches. Marcelo Bielsa came first and then Jorge Castelli. Necaxa beat us 3-1 in the global score, right before the grand final match.
With short tournaments came upsetting experiences for the team. Head Coaches Ricardo La Volpe and Carlos de los Cobos (Winter 96), Jorge Solari and Gonzalo Farfán (Summer and Winter 97), Carlos Reinoso (Summer and Winter 98), Carlos Kiese (Summer and Winter 99), Alfredo Tena (Winter 99 and Summer 2000) and Alfio Basile (Winter 2000) couldn’t manage to lift the team up.
América’s super leadership in Summer 97, with 37 points, was one of the only outstanding things at the time. Our team’s first involvement in Copa Libertadores was on 1998. We made it all the way prior to quarterfinals, where we lost to Argentina’s River Plate. Another noteworthy event: Cuauhtémoc Blanco was named top scorer in the Winter 98 tournament, scoring 16 goals.
Year 2001 was a great one for our team. We got close to putting an end to our League title drought, ending up as Superleaders with 28 points, but we were eliminated by Pachuca during semifinals. We did a good job throughout the competition and the team proved they were getting closer to succeed again.
Concacaf Giants Cup 2001 was the new name assigned to Concacaf Champions Cup in the year 2001. Said tournament was played between Concacaf clubs with the highest fan attendance in their local tournaments. It was a great opportunity to relive golden days and that’s the way it went. After an eight-year drought without winning, our Águilas obtained the trophy and we stood in the spotlight once again. We defeated Municipal from Guatemala, Costa Rica’s Saprissa and United State’s DC United at the final on August 5, 2001. Jesús Mendoza (52’) and Octavio Valdéz (70’) scored the goals that wrote the story. “Coco” Basile lined up the following players: Adrián Chávez; Manolo Rodríguez, José Vaca, Guillermo Huerta, Efraín Herrera; Cristóbal Ortega, Gonzalo Farfán, Antonio Carlos Santos (Efraín Munguía 65’); Adrián Camacho (Roberto Aldrete 68’), Carlos Hermosillo and Luis Roberto Alves “Zaguinho”..
We didn’t do so bad back at the local tournament, on Winter 2001. Basile left the team and his place was taken by Manuel Lapuente, former coach of Mexico’s National Team at the World Cup in France 1998. Our team would find their yearned success once again under his command, winning the league tournament. Summer 2002 went down in history as América’s comeback. With experienced players such as Adolfo Ríos, Pavel Pardo, Duilio Davino and Iván Zamorano, our Águilas drove millions of fans crazy by defeating Necaxa in the grand final. We started off with a 0-2 disadvantage. We previously defeated La Piedad (6-2 global) and Universidad Nacional (2-1 global). A magnificent performance by our best americanista player, goalkeeper “San Adolfo”, prevented our defeat. Also, thanks to three great goals scored by Christian Patiño (58’), “Bam Bam” Zamorano (62’) and Hugo “Misionero” Castillo (107’) –who literally scored a golden goal– we were able to keep on going. Lapuente’s lineup for May 26, 2002 was: Adolfo Ríos; Jose Castro, Carlos Sánchez (Manuel Ríos 90’), Duilio Davino (Carlos Infante 45’), Oscar Rojas, Raúl Salinas; Pavel Pardo (Iván Zamorano 50’), Álvaro Ortiz, Hugo Castillo; Marcelo Lipatín and Christian Patiño. Americanistas were celebrating. It was our dream night, the moment everyone wished and hoped for. At last, América was crowned champion in the new millennium!
For the Apertura 2002 tournament, Lapuente took a leave of absence for the first ten matches. His absence was not felt since Mario Carrillo, his assistant, did an amazing job by winning 8 games and tying the other two. Our Head Coach would come back on round 11 and the team’s great results kept on coming. We ended up with 43 points, establishing an “obtained points” record as far as short tournaments go. Unfortunately, we were eliminated by Santos during quarterfinals.
Manuel Lapuente left the team after Clausura 2003. Leo Beenhakker took his place for the Apertura 2003 and Clausura 2004 tournaments. Óscar Ruggeri started off Apertura 2004 and was replaced by Mario Carrillo. Our americanista president at the time, Guillermo Cañedo White, kept him for Clausura’s 2005 tournament. Fortunately, he succeeded and we obtained the league championship once more. We only lost the match on round 6 against Rayados (2-4) in Monterrey. We had an amazing, undefeated winning streak.
We defeated Santos first (3-3 global and visiting goals) and then Cruz Azul (6-2 global) during the liguilla. We defeated Tecos de la UAG (7-4 global) in the final. First we tied 1-1 at the 3 de marzo Stadium in Zapopan. Cuauhtémoc Blanco scored a penalty goal at minute 87. Then, on Sunday May 29, 2005, we hammered them 6-3 at the Azteca Stadium. Aarón Padilla (1’ and 37’), Claudio “Piojo” López (4’ and 89’), Cuauhtémoc Blanco (63’) and Jesús Mendoza (68’) scored our goals. That celebrated afternoon, Carrillo lined up the following players: Guillermo Ochoa, José Castro, Duilio Davino, Ricardo Rojas, Raúl Salinas; Pavel Pardo, Germán Villa, Francisco Torres (Rodrigo Valenzuela 53'), Cuauhtémoc Blanco (Álvaro Ortiz 87’); Claudio López y Aarón Padilla (Jesús Mendoza 56’). The catchphrase “Ódiame más” (hate me more) was born and obtained one more title
Said victory gave us the chance to fight for the Champion of Champions title against Pumas de la Universidad Nacional, defeating them 2-1 global. We tied 0-0 at the Olímpico Universitario Stadium, but we beat them at the Coloso de Santa Úrsula with two goals scored by Brazilian Kléber Joao Boas Pereira at minutes 63 and 68. Carrillo lined up the following players on the night of July 27: Guillermo Ochoa, José Castro, Duilio Davino, Ricardo Rojas; Germán Villa, Alejandro Argüello Irenio Soares 45'), Francisco Torres (Aarón Padilla 57'), Cuauhtémoc Blanco; Claudio López (Ismael Rodríguez 77') and Kléber Boas..
Staff improvements were made for Apertura 2005. Christian Giménez and Irenio Solares were brought to the team. We were going to participate for the first time ever in the Copa Sudamericana, so we needed to strengthen our squad. We did well, amassing the best winning streak in official matches of our history: 32 games without losing between February 27 (when we lost to the Pandilla at the Tecnológico) and October 15, 2005 (when Jaguares won at the Víctor Manuel Reyna Stadium). They were exactly 28 league matches, two from the Champion of Champions and two from the Copa Sudamericana 2005. Argentina’s Vélez Starfield defeated us during quarterfinals. We ended up as Superleaders in the local championship, but were defeated by Tigres de la UANL in quarterfinals. This made coach Mario Carrillo leave the team. Kléber Joao Boas Pereira was crowned top scorer with 11 goals.
Víctor Manuel Aguado was named coach for Clausura 2006, leaving the team in round 7. Manuel Lapuente took his place.
We played Concacaf Champions tournament again. We defeated Jamaica’s Portmore in quarterfinals and Costa Rica’s Alajuense in semifinals. We would be playing the final against Toluca. In the away game on April 12, 2006, we tied 0-0 at La Bombonera Stadium. In the home game, played at the Azteca Stadium on April 19, we defeated the Choriceros 2-1 with goals scored by Kléber Boas Pereira at minute 105 and Duilio Davino at 115’. Lapuente’s lineup was: Armando Navarrete; Oscar Rojas, Duilio Davino, Ricardo Rojas, Ismael Rodríguez (Christian Giménez 26'), Germán Villa, Francisco Torres, Irenio Soares (Alejandro Argüello 91'), Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Claudio López, Aarón Padilla (Kléber Boas 46'). Thanks to this victory we qualified to play at the Club World Cup in Japan, at the end of the year. Despite said victory, we didn’t qualify to the liguilla in the local tournament, so Luis Fernando Tena became the americanista coach for Apertura 2006.
The team was reinforced with the arrival of Paraguayan Salvador Cabañas and Argentinian Matías Vuoso. Our team got great results. We qualified to the liguilla but Guadalajara defeated us during semifinals. The team was ready to leave for Japan, where we played the Club World Cup. We faced Spain’s Barcelona in semifinals and placed fourth in the end.
Luis Fernando Tena was confirmed as Head Coach and the team kept going up, to such an extent that, on Clausura 2007, we not only qualified to the liguilla once again but made it all the way to the grand final, facing Pachuca. We lost the first match 1-2, played on May 25 at the Azteca Stadium. Cuauhtémoc Blanco scored our only goal, and it was a penalty. During the home game, played at the Tuzo’s stadium, “Temo” scored an amazing goal once more. In the end, Pachuca tied the match and we finished as runner-ups.
We played Copa Libertadores at the same time, getting all the way to quarterfinals. It was meaningful that Salvador Cabañas was crowned top scorer with 10 goals.
For Apertura 2007, Cuauhtémoc Blanco left the team. His absence was greatly felt in the game field. After four defeats, Tena was let go. Alberto Daniel Brailovsky took his place and the americanista fans gladly received him. Despite bad results, we managed to get in the play-off round, where Morelia’s Monarcas defeated us. An outstanding thing happened during the Copa Sudamericana, played at the same time as Apertura. We got all the way to the final after eliminating Pachuca, Vasco da Gama from Brazil and Colombia’s Millonarios. We would define the championship against Argentina’s Arsenal de Sarandí. The Argentinians won the first match at the Azteca Stadium 3-2. Cabañas (6’) and Argüello (55’) scored our goals. The home game was played at the Presidente Perón de Avellaneda Stadium. Colombian Oscar Ruiz’s refereeing skills were disastrous and Conmebol decided to change the tournament rules right during the game’s half time break. Still, we defeated the Argentinians 2-1, but because of the away goal criteria (which originally didn’t apply), we had to be content with becoming runner-ups. Christian Díaz scored an own goal at minute 18. Juan Carlos Silva also scored at minute 62.
Copa Sudamericana’s runner-up title allowed “Ruso” Brailovsky to keep training the team for Clausura 2008. He didn’t do well and was let go after round 6. His place was taken by a former americanista player: Rubén Omar Romano. Our participation in the Copa Libertadores was happening right in that moment. Results were great in the continental cup but disastrous in the league. For this reason Romano left the team and Juan Antonio Luna, old acquaintance and former youth ranks player at our club, took his place. We got to semifinals in the Libertadores Cup, but first we defeated Brazil’s Flamengo 3-0 at the mythical Maracaná Stadium. Once again, Salvador Cabañas was crowned top scorer of the tournament, with eight goals scored.
The team was restructured and some changes were done. Cañedo White left the presidency and was replaced by Michel Bauer. Argentinian Ramón Ángel Díaz was selected as new Head Coach, but the Apertura 2008 results weren’t that good.
“Pelado” Díaz was confirmed as coach for Clausura 2009, things were still not good and after round 4 he left the team. Jesús Ramírez took his place and tried to save the team, but we were left out of the liguilla. For Apertura 2009 there was a better understanding between the players. Thanks to this we were able to qualify to the biggest party in Mexican soccer but were defeated by Monterrey in quarterfinals.
Ramírez remained as azulcrema coach for the 2010 Bicentennial. After having played the tournament’s round 2, Salvador Cabañas, the best americanista player, was shot in the head. This unfortunate event kept him from playing professional soccer permanently. His life was miraculously saved. Everyone showed their support and love for the Guarani player. Once again América qualified to the final phase and lost again in quarterfinals, coincidentally against the tournament’s champion: Toluca.
The “Lapuente era” became a trilogy, since Manuel Lapuente was reinstated as americanista Head Coach for Apertura 2010. Manolo’s style, effective and not that spectacular, was enough to play the semifinals, where we fell victims to Santos Laguna.
Lapuente remained with the team for Clausura 2011 and for Copa Libertadores, the future looked bright, considering the experience of the man in the beret and the fact that the team had reached semifinals in the last tournament.
On the first three games, only one score was yielded, achieving only a tie to two goals in Chiapas, losing as local team before Pachuca and Tigres. For which the Lapuentista cicle ended overnight and its relay was Carlos Reinoso, one of the greatest americanistas in history, whose debut returned smiles to the Águilas after achieving three consecutive victories; two at a local tournament and one more at Copa Libertadores. The players’ determination and the motivation from the “Maestro” weren’t enough, and even though they managed to qualify for both tournaments, the team only reached quarterfinals during Clausura and the round prior to quarterfinals at the Libertadores. The only redeemable thing was the top scorer championship achieved by midfielder Ángel Reyna who, with 13 scores, consecrated him as the scoring king in Mexico.
For Clausura 2012 tournament there was a complete renewal at the directive and technical staff levels. Ricardo Peláez was named the new Sports President and Yon de Luisa was named Operational President; José Romano would later take his place. The first action Peláez carried through as the new americanista leader was to bring in Miguel Herrera as head coach. After a terrible Apertura 2011 tournament where the team reached rock bottom, there were speculations about all of the players being in transferable positions, but this wasn’t the case. Peláez’s decision about keeping the majority of the players and having a very serious talk with them brought results. For the Clausura 2012 and Apertura 2012 tournaments the team also reached semi finals. We finally reached glory at the Clausura 2013 tournament. On an epic night, May 26, defeating Cruz Azul during finals and reviving in five minutes. We were crowned champions. After reaching extra time and winning 2-1 (2-2 global) at the very last moment, with a goal scored during compensation time by goalkeeper Moisés Muñoz at 93’, the Águilas recovered faith and defined themselves from the penalty line. Before, Aquivaldo Mosquera had scored the hope goal at minute 86 and Jesús Molina had left, expelled at minute 13. Raúl Jiménez, “Chucho” Benítez, Osvaldo Martínez and Miguel Layún wrote their names in the azulcrema history, scoring their penalty goals. Miguel Herrera banished failure from his curriculum by winning his first League title, for which Muñoz acted as hero. It’s worth mentioning that Christian “Chucho” Benítez was crowned three-times top scorer with 12 goals. He was crowned on the two last league championships, with 14 and 11 goals respectively in Clausura 2012 and Apertura 2012. The men “Piojo” Herrera sent out into the field on that unforgettable night were: Moisés Muñoz;
The americanista winning streak kept going and during the next tournament, Apertura 2013, the team reached the finals but lost against León. With this match “Piojo” Herrera’s leadership of the Águilas came to an end after he started coaching the Mexican National team that would be a part of the World Cup Brazil 2014; Antonio Mohamed, who had been a part of the team in 1998, took his place reinforcing the team on the 2014 Copa Libertadores. Mohamed returned to América as a coach that had already been crowned in Mexico with Tijuana, and with a soccer philosophy quite different from Miguel Herrera’s. While the Mexican coach was known for his spectacular offensive plays, the Argentinian was more cautious and organized in the defensive zone. The first tournament, Clausura 2014, was especially hard for “El Turco” due to differences with players like Francisco Javier ‘Maza’ Rodríguez, Juan Carlos “Negro” Medina and Aquivaldo Mosquera, who left the team. These players were replaced with Pablo Aguilar, Paolo Goltz and Michael Arroyo. This move paid off and the team had a very good tournament coming in as general leaders and playing the final against Tigres from Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, defeating them 3-1 in the global score; thus conquering another league championship.
For the home game final played on Sunday December 15, the Azteca Stadium was packed with an uncontrollable americanista extasis. With an extraordinary triumph, 3-0 with goals from Michael Arroyo at 36’, Pablo Aguilar at 61’ and Oribe Peralta at 77’. Three Tigres players got expelled and the team lost its head. Mohamed directed his last match as coach for the Águilas. His contract wasn’t renewed by the Board of Directors. They weren’t comfortable with certain aspects of his professional and personal approaches but he left the team with arms held high. As soon as the referee, Paúl Delgadillo, blew the whistle “El Turco” ran off to the locker rooms. He was absent from the field for a brief moment to go get his cell phone. He wanted to record this glorious moment. The americanistas performed as their fans expected, the way thousands dreamed while resisting the Tigre invasion. América reaffirmed itself as the team with most wins in the history of Mexican soccer. Mohamed’s last line up as the americanista head coach was with Moisés Muñoz;
To take Mohamed’s place for Clausura 2015 season, Uruguayan Gustavo Matosas was hired. Matosas was multi champion with León and tried to give the team a new face. With his arrival, other reinforcements joined the team like Darío Benedetto, Darwin Quintero, Cristian Pellerano and Miguel Samudio. América also participated, and won, the CONCACAF Champions Tournament defeating the Impact of Montreal in the final. The team previously defeated Bayamón of Puerto Rico, we scored 10 goals against them during a group round game, Comunicaciones de Guatemala, Saprissa and Herediano from Costa Rica. In the final round, first in the Azteca Stadium on April 22 2015, we tied with one goal scored by Oribe Peralta. But, now used to go against adversity, the Águilas traveled to Canada and won 4-2 with three goals scored by Darío Bendetto at 50’, 67’ and 81’, one more scored by ‘Cepillo’ Peralta at 65’ with which the team achieved its sixth ‘Concachampions’ in history, becoming the most winning team alongside Cruz Azul (this without taking into account the Giants Cup, also an official Concacaf title). Gustavo Matosas lined up the following players on that night, April 29 at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal: Moisés Muñoz; Paul Aguilar, Ventura Alvarado, Pablo Aguilar, Miguel Samudio; José Guerrero, Osvaldo Martínez, Rubens Sambueza (Osmar Mares 87'); Darwin Quintero (José Madueña 82') Darío Benedetto and Oribe Peralta (Michael Arroyo 85')..
We came as far as quarterfinals at the local tournament. Pachuca defeated us. Matosas and the Board, in common agreement, stepped aside. Ignacio Ambriz replaced him at the americanista bench for Apertura 2015. Alongside this competition, the new Concacaf Champions 2015-2016 edition would be played. In the league, the team was eliminated during semifinals, when Pumas de la Universidad Nacional defeated us.
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