Club America tripped up by former coach Antonio Mohamed, Monterrey
MEXICO CITY, Mexico -- America suffered its seventh loss of the season and fourth away loss, in Monterrey after falling 2-1 to Rayados, a team that was in desperate need of a win in order to keep its liguilla hopes alive.
Rayados continues its undefeated streak at brand new Estadio BBVA Bancomer thanks to Rogelio Funes Mori and Edwin Cardona's goals, while America completes three weeks filled with uncertainty, in which it showed its title credentials in Toluca, but also showed lack of reaction when being down in the score in Monterrey and Mexico City.
Here are three takeaways from the match.
1. America don't give complete performance
America started off the game passive as Rayados attempted to surprise early and take a lead that could have placed them in a position to take the win. However, Rayados' electric start wasn't enough, and right away, America took a 1-0 lead after Darwin Quintero's goal.
Last week in Toluca, America had a 2-0 lead at halftime, and even though Toluca tied the game, America still took a 3-2 win from Nemesio Diez. Against Rayados, everything fell apart for America in the second half.
What went right in the first half for Las Aguilas, such as as Rubens Sambueza's recovery of the ball in his own territory, or the team's marking on Rayados' best player, Cardona, totally disappeared in the second half. The team looked lost, while Rayados played with hunger, knowing that if it didn't get the win, its chances to make it into la liguilla would be nearly done.
The loss in Monterrey is alarming for America because it seemed as if Rayados did very little to attain the 2-1 win. It's true that Antonio "Turco" Mohamed made two substitutions to start the second half -- Jesus Zavala for Luis Perez and Pablo Barrera for Edgar Castillo -- but it was the ruthlessness from Cardona and Dorlan Pabon that dismantled America's defense. One of the goals came after the ball hit the crossbar and landed on Funes Mori's boots only for him to send the ball in, and the other goal came after a hard cross that hit Cardona's thigh, sending the ball past goalkeeper Moises Munoz.
America coach Ignacio Ambriz's response to Rayados' 2-1 lead after 67 minutes of play was to add more firepower up top. America finished the game with Oribe Peralta, Dario Benedetto, Sambueza, and "Miky" Arroyo, but Ambriz's team didn't provoke fear in the second half as it did in the first half. Against Gallos Blancos at Estadio Azteca, Ambriz showed a lack of ideas during adversity, and once again in Monterrey, his decisions generated uncertainty.
2. Quintero the only shimmer of light in defeat
Darwin Quintero has elevated his play in America's last two games, but what's more impressive is the fact that in America's last five goals away from home, he has had a hand in four with two goals and two assists.
The numbers suggest that he's finding his groove in a team where he has been questioned nonstop. The investment America made for the Colombian forward was considerable, because during his Club Santos days he proved to be a player that could single-handedly lead his club to victory.
As a member of Las Aguilas that hasn't been the case, but the recent numbers suggest a progression. Against Pumas there's a possibility to see him get the start instead of Andres "El Rifle" Andrade, who has seen a drop in form in America's last three league games.
On Saturday night, his performance and several of Munoz's saves were America's only positives.
3. Rayados lives off Cardona, Pabon and Mori
Monterrey has scored 31 goals in the 2015 Apertura, and Cardona, Pabon and Funes Mori account for 28 of them. It's fair to say that without this trio of forwards, Rayados wouldn't have gotten the win against America and several of its other five wins.
Mohamed's team lives off their brilliance, but let's not forget, Rayados is a good home side with four wins, four draws, and zero losses. They are a totally different visiting side with two wins, one draw, and five losses.
If a player like Cardona has an off day, Rayados suffers a lot to the point that it is more likely to see it lose than win. Luckily, on Saturday night against Los Azulcremas, Cardona brought his A-game and scored the winner for La Pandilla.
Nayib Moran covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @nayibmoran.