My game of the week in Liga MX: América vs. Atlas
By Kim Tate
This isn't my choice because it's the first match for América at home since defeating Cruz Azul in pens for the Championship. While América are still favorites for a top spot in the standings, the massively intense atmosphere at Estadio Azteca will be packed with supporters mourning the loss of the late Christian Chucho Benitez, who at 27 years old, passed away unexpectedly from heart failure on Monday in Qatar.
Tickets were offered at about 20 pesos (roughly 1.50 US) for this match and the club will hold a tribute to Benitez pre game, while it's rumored that fans are planning a stadium wide applause throughout the eleventh minute, paying respect to their legendary former striker who wore number 11. Players' emotions will undoubtedly play a factor in performance today, as América looks to 'win for Chucho.'
América have only played one game this season, a 1-1 draw against León which hardly demonstrated the top form they're capable of displaying. The 2013 Clausura champions postponed their first two matches of the season because five of their players were competing in Gold Cup, while León had won their first two games against Atlante and Atlas, repsectively.
Atlas will be under pressure at the Azteca, as they've gotten off to a rocky start tying two games and losing one. In their first game of the season against Club Tijuana, they came from behind to eventually tie Xolos 3-3 in a thriller of a match at Estadio Caliente, but it's been apparent this team is still getting used to playing under new Argentine coach Omar Asad.
Off the field, the club has had its perils as players are still owed wages from last season, so one would expect those exterior issues to translate on field at some point. On the field, their defense has struggled, and they've had to rely too heavily on forwards Matias Vuoso and Omar Bravo since the club didn't have any signings for positions up top in the offseason. As they proved in their first game against Xolos, however, they do have the potential to come from behind and salvage at least a point.
I'm predicting an América victory in this match, but in the world of Mexican football, you never know,. The game will be televised on Univision at 3:00pm PST, and I will be watching from my couch wishing I could be in the famous Azteca among the thousands of fans in memory of a champion and legend.
Kim, enjoying your reviews and opinions on the mexican league. Many players in the US should be reading up on this, about the passion, and how the its a religion for fans and people just a stones throw away across the border. Too many people live sheltered lives here and need to understand what the game means to many of us across the world, not just in Mexico.
There have been a few players in the past decade now that have passed away from heart problems, on and off the soccer field. This seems to be a worrying statistic, and currently all players should have an annual heart scan.