Mohamed given golden chance in America debut
With Miguel Herrera now fully ensconced with the Mexican national team, the Antonio Mohamed era at Club America gets its official start Saturday night at the Estadio Azteca against Tigres. After a largely successful 2013 Apertura, America's season ended in bittersweet fashion. While many members of the Aguilas' squad led El Tri to an intercontinental playoff win over New Zealand, thus qualifying Mexico for the World Cup, Club America were then subsequently drilled in the Apertura final by deserved winners Leon. But opportunity knocks again as Liga MX kicks off its 2014 Clausura this weekend. For Mohamed, the start of a new season has come fairly quickly. Since being officially introduced as head coach back on December 17th, Mohamed has had fewer than ten training sessions in which to work with his new squad. A December 28th friendly in Los Angeles against Tijuana that ended 3-3 showed little evidence of any major tweaks from the Argentine boss and fans should not expect much different in Saturday's match against Tigres. In fact, the product put on the field in recent years by Herrera will likely undergo only a few changes, if you are to believe Mohamed's initial comments of there being only "slight modifications". But if trouble comes early in the season, Herrera's traditional 5-3-2 might find its way to the scrap heap in favor of the 4-3-3 used by Mohamed while at Tijuana. If there is one difference that the players have pointed to in the little time they have had on the training field with their new manager, it is that Mohamed has placed a greater emphasis on possession. Will this mark an end to goalkeeper Moises Munoz booming punts forward to the ready-to-pounce strikers? Perhaps not, but the ball-handling and play-making abilities of defenders such as Topo Valenzuela, Aquivaldo Mosquera and Maza Rodriguez (suspended for Saturday's contest) will be under more scrutiny. As for Saturday, when America and Tigres are on the field together at the same time, tension is all but assured. It was America who eliminated Tigres in the Apertura playoffs at the quarterfinal stage, even though both legs ended in draws. Despite advancing, the inability to defeat Tigres lingers for the Mexico City club. Simply put, Tigres has been a thorn in the side of America for quite some time. One must go back to the 2009 Clausura to find the last America win over the Monterrey outfit, a 3-2 win at the Universitario. And incredibly, the previous America win over Tigres in the Azteca was way back in the 2005 Apertura. This all presents Mohamed with an overwhelming opportunity to put himself in the good graces of Aguilas fans everywhere right from the start with a win versus Tigres on Saturday, a feat that Herrera was never able to accomplish. Mohamed's recent success in Liga MX with Tijuana -- where he won the 2012 Apertura and guided the club to the 2013 Copa Libertadores quarterfinals -- has been well-chronicled, but the pressures of managing one of Mexico's most popular and successful clubs is a different ball of wax. All Aguilas eyes will be watching.