Diego Alonso's Pachuca hands Club America yet another home loss
MEXICO CITY, Mexico -- Club America suffered its first home defeat of 2016 after falling 4-1 to Pachuca on Saturday afternoon.
Once again America is in a confused state, with head coach Ignacio "Nacho" Ambriz and the players' performances being openly questioned by fans.
In the Ambriz era, America has achieved only four home wins -- none of them in 2016 -- and the fans are losing patience.
Here are three thoughts from the Estadio Azteca:
1. Club America is short of ideas
America's week of peace lasted very little. After Las Aguilas' 3-0 win over Atlas at Estadio Jalisco, the team appeared to have regained needed confidence to confront its match against Pachuca. In recent seasons, the club from Hidalgo has been one of the few clubs in Mexico who have been able to ruin America's party, and Saturday stayed true to that trend.
Last Wednesday, America midfielder Osvaldo Martinez noted that when the team plays at home it tends to fall in desperation. The players usually come out the first 15-20 minutes with the firm conviction of picking up a win, and at times this desperation to impress causes them to commit lousy errors. On Saturday, two errors allowed Pachuca to take a 2-0 lead into halftime.
When Ambriz's team plays at home, it has a tough time reacting when it goes behind. The coach shouts his lungs out, but the team creates scoring chances due only to individual plays.
After Pachuca took the 2-0 lead in the first half, Los Tuzos looked relaxed, while America looked like a broken team without a sense of direction. America's number of crosses went up, but they rarely hit the target.
To start the second half, Ambriz made two substitutions, William da Silva and Andres "El Rifle" Andrade, in, while Brian Lozano and Jose "Chepe" Guerrero, out. The substitutions made America attack more, but it was also because Pachuca had stopped dominating possession.
Pachuca allowed America to have the ball. Their decision was risky, but players like Hirving "Chucky" Lozano, Erick Gutierrez, Rodolfo Pizarro and Jonathan Urretaviscaya allowed Los Tuzos to rely on the counter.
America captain Rubens Sambueza cut down Pachuca's lead, but even though CA finished the game with six offensive-minded footballers, the team lacked ideas, and once again desperation ate the team up, preventing it from creating well-built attacking plays.
2. Lozano was America's only ray of hope
Brian Lozano got his first Liga MX start on Saturday afternoon. He started off the game starting his plays from the right flank, but after the first 25 minutes, Ambriz ordered him to move over to the left.
In the second half, he headed to the bench as if his first league start had finished on a low note, but the reality is that before moving to the left flank, Lozano was America's most dangerous player on the field. The 21-year-old Uruguayan midfielder provided Las Aguilas creativity in the final third, and early on in the match, one of his free kicks hit the crossbar.
Lozano's performance needed a goal or an assist to gain the notoriety it deserved because Ambriz's decision to leave Darwin Quintero on the bench and start him instead is one that signals that Lozano is starting to win respect inside the club.
Quintero, on the other hand, is losing it. In the next weeks, it could well be the case that Lozano will once and for all win a starting place in America's XI.
3. Pachuca has a team to compete for the title
Pachuca's win proved that they are legitimate title contenders. During the 90 minutes, Los Tuzos' starting XI controlled the game, and they did whatever they wanted. They were effective in front of goal, and they were also calm when they had to confront America's attacking surges.
Newcomers Omar Gonzalez, Oscar Murillo, Stefan Medina and Emmanuel Garcia provide the team with the defensive solidity it lacked in the 2015 Apertura, and its young contingent of attackers keeps getting better each week.
Coach Diego Alonso asks his team to always play at an intense level, and on Saturday the players did exactly that and have been doing so since the start of the 2016 Clausura.
Nayib Moran covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @nayibmoran.