Still too early to judge Mohamed at America
The Antonio "Turco" Mohamed era at Club America is perhaps in its most difficult moment since the departure of Miguel Herrera last December. The Aguilas suffered their second defeat of the Torneo Clausura on Saturday, a 1-0 defeat at home at the Estadio Azteca to surprising Pachuca which got an 89th minute winner from young pup Hirving Lozano who was making his Liga MX debut.
On the season, America have four wins and two losses, each defeat by a 1-0 scoreline, while three of the victories have come by just a single goal. The lone exception was the season opening 3-0 win over Tigres.
While it is true that supporters are not watching the same swashbuckling, attack-minded Aguilas that they grew accustomed to during Herrera's tenure, especially in the 2013 Clausura and Apertura seasons, the criticisms being hurled toward Mohamed are unfairly premature.
The Argentine boss was not helped at all in the match against the Tuzos by the absence of playmaker Rubens Sambueza, who served the first of a two-game suspension on Saturday. Since moving from Estudiantes Tecos, Sambueza has arguably been America's most valuable player and his lack of contribution and service was noticeable against Pachuca.
It is also worth mentioning that both of America's losses have come in the final moments of the match. Prior to Lozano’s late winner, Cristian Pellerano earned Tijuana an 87th minute win over America back on match-day two. Taking that all into account, if they had seen out those final moments, you’d be looking at an America side that would boast an unbeaten record through six matches and a 14 point total, just two shy of league leaders Cruz Azul.
But even with the two late losses, America still sit third. Since when does this constitute a problem? Yet there are whispers already that Mohamed cannot deal with being at such a big club like America, and that he appears to work better at a smaller club, evidenced by his brilliance in leading Tijuana to the 2012 Apertura title and the Copa Libertadores quarterfinals.
Perhaps fans are feeling that way because they are seeing a less demonstrative coach on the touchline. The same complaints were heard about Tito Vilanova in the post-Pep Guardiola world at Barcelona. Herrera's sideline emotions are some of the very best and most entertaining no doubt, but that should not discount Mohamed in any way.
Simply put, Mohamed deserves every opportunity to mold this team into the manner that he sees fit. This America is still very much El Piojo's America, and the tweaks and changes made by Mohamed will assuredly ruffle some feathers. And judging by comments made earlier this week by Miguel Layun about how America are playing more defensively, it looks like it already has.
It is also worth taking into account the lack of a full preseason with which Mohamed had to work. He had just a handful of training sessions with the squad before they took to the field against Tigres back in early January. Assuredly, Mohamed will have much more time at his disposal to make the personnel changes he desires prior to the start of the Apertura later this year.
It took a third season before Herrera was able to deliver a title to America, and it had to come in miraculous fashion. 2012 saw Herrera's America lose to Monterrey and Toluca at the semifinal stage in those respective Liguillas, a fate that could definitely fall upon Mohamed in this Clausura season. And if it were to happen, the club would do well not to waver in their faith in El Turco. His recent success in Mexican football warrants the patience of Aguilas fans.