RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Wednesday, January 8

14-Man Micro-Metaphysical Roster: CLUB AMERICA

{how hype would this man get you feeling?}

[14-Man Micro-Metaphysical Roster is a football metaphysics methodology calculating minutes played per the last 50 competitive matches for a North American football club, weighting that shit more heavily for most recent matches, and using them calculations to list the 14 players constituting the strongest psychic force on a club’s current path. This is done at Football Metaphysics Space twice a month for the Premier League clubs in England, and now I’m doing it for the top clubs in North America, two per month. Venmo me for my emotionless labor @ravenmack23.]

I’ve decided to bring this Football Metaphysics analysis to my home continent, with long-term hopes of “American” football coming to mean something more than concussions and pro-military fascism (traditional American football) or the privileged elite pretending they are great at a sport because they’ve priced all the poors out of taking part (the world’s football, in America). And let’s be real here for a second – the original rules of association football were written in English, so a big part of the reason Americans who are drawn to the sport gravitate to the Premier League is language barrier as much as anything else. Americans tend to go for the easy lane. But just because the history of the world’s football began in England people’s English, does that mean the future has to be that too? Can’t it be American English? And likely involve Spanish? But not European Spanish, rather than bastardized American continents hybridized version, and in fact even the bastard American English and bastard American Spanish mutate together to a certain extent? Yes, it can. And it will.

So, with the notions in mind that “soccer” is becoming more and more popular in America, and that due to the previous corruption of FIFA, the 2026 World Cup was allocated to North America to appease the normal corruptions known the world over, I have decided to give a micro-metaphysics treatment of North American clubs twice a month here at the ol’ Football Metaphysics Space, applying a similar metric as we use for the Premier League write-ups, but only using the past 50 competitive matches, instead of 100, and only covering the top 14 dudes per club, as opposed to the full 25-man treatment. Now obviously, there are more than 24 top flight clubs in North America, when you consider we have two top flights (Liga MX and MLS), but big chunks of both of those top flights aren’t top flight. MLS lacks relegation, so there’s no punishment for being a piece of shit club; and Mexico’s top league is fairly oligarchic, so relegation is often avoided through shady club purchases and relocations or through an outright bribery/fee paid.

Nonetheless, I persist. I calculated shit by how far in the big continental and domestic competitions clubs got (CONCACAF Champions League, Liga MX, Copa MX, MLS, and US Open Cup), the past ten years, and slotted the top 24 clubs in this to roll through for 2020. In case you were wondering, I don’t care to explain all that in greater detail – it’s incredibly embarrassing the ridiculous shit I occupy my spare time with in order to build the foundation for these metaphysical explorations. I don’t even bother my Football Metaphysics Space content co-creators with that part of this thing. But of 24 clubs in North America, 13 came from Mexico, 10 came from the United States, and one from Canada. And we begin with the top club on the continent (according to all this), the most American football Club in all of the lesser half of the lesser half of the globe… Club America!

The beauty of football in places where it has taken deep root is the public spaces it is held, regularly, that become cathedrals/mosques to the sport, and give people a place to call their own, more than the actual club owners, or players, or sponsors all over the jerseys. (And fuck man, there’s a shit ton of sponsors on a Liga MX jersey.) And there is no greater football cathedral on this continent I call home than Estadio Azteca, the first stadium in the entire Earth to host two World Cup finals, and the home to best national team in North America (Mexico) and the most popular and successful club in Mexico, Club America. A few months ago, when I was talking to a Colombian barista at work who I often exchange flirtatious nonsenses with and ramble in broken Spanish as much as I can, talking about football, she told me as we talked Liga MX that she’d love to see a match at Estadio Azteca. Her husband (who will one day try to kill me) pulls for America, but she prefers Monterrey, because there’s a lot of Colombians there. Haha, where are there a lot of Americans? The flipside of the melting pot is that America’s also kind of a clusterfuck, so it’s not like you have some crazy allegiance to being American because there’s a bunch of you in like Tijuana, or something.

Nonetheless, Club America is the top club in Mexico, even though they came up short in the Liguilla finals against Monterrey. Don’t let that last paragraph about the barista get it twisted though… Club America has mad Colombians on their squad.

Club America is managed by the maniac Miguel Herrera, who I first saw (and fell in love with as a crazed Mexican Chris Farley stalking the sidelines) when he managed the Mexican national team at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. Mexico had a pretty great run that year, and Herrera’s passion (and ridiculous over-excitement at times) helped feed that. Well let me assure you, this fucker has apparently not had enough heart attacks to slow himself down, because for every Club America match, there he is, in the director tecnico box, freaking out positively and negatively, looking like he’s about to have a stroke at times, and punching the air with authoritative insanity when things go extremely well in extremely dramatic fashion. I love that fuckin’ dude so much. (The fact “manager” is called “director technico” in Latin America makes me wonder though, specifically with regards to Mexico, is there such a thing as “director rudo”?) This is a storied club by Mexican domestic standards, the Yankees of Liga MX, so they have to have the highest levels of manager. And they got it with Herrera. And they back that up with roster too, so let’s start poking through these fuckers, with a little 14-Man Micro-Metaphysics…

#1: PAUL AGUILAR (and since this is the first one of these, his FIRST METAPHYSICAL STAR) – Aguilar began his footballing life as a teenager with Pachuca, but he’s been with America for nearly 9 years, their defensive anchor at right back. He’s been capitan for a while, and has over 50 appearances for El Tri, the Mexican National Team, but got forgotten on the final roster for World Cup 2018 due to him talking shit about then national team manager’s Juan Carlos Osorio’s tactics in qualification. Aguilar is fiery aka passionate aka apt to get into a fight from time to time, which is a hallmark of Mexican (as well as all of Latin American) futbol. In the classic two-legged eliminations you see in both the Liguilla playoffs in Mexico (which Club America just lost Apertura 2019’s final playoff against rival Monterrey over the holidays) and CONMEBOL’s Copa Libertadores, if a club is down in that second leg, and you’re getting to the end of time, conflict is gonna happen, and likely yellow and red cards as well. It’s just part of the deal. It’s weird how in CONCACAF Champions League two-leggers which involve MLS, the same never happens. Even when a Mexican club is shockingly about to get eliminated (albeit, not common since Mexican clubs are generally superior to American ones), and dudes like Aguilar start getting chippy, the Americanized players tend not to have fight like that. I don’t know, I prefer the chippiness. I mean the biggest complaint assholes have against soccer is that it’s soft. Anyways, Aguilar’s getting to an age where Club America’s likely to start inserting a younger body into his role. But he’s also a dude who has sworn he’ll finish his career at America, so he won’t go away easily.

#2: EMANUEL AGUILERA – Aguilera's also a defender, and here's the strange thing about America… like six of their most prominent players are all defenders. And yet, their two biggest signings this minimal off-season (actually announced the day before their final match of last half-season) are both defenders as well. Not sure what Miguel Herrera is doing, but Aguilera played under Herrera at Xolos a few seasons back. He is an an Argentine, by the way. I feel like I should clarify that shit for these guys so you assholes don't assume they're all Mexicans.

#3: GUIDO RODRIGUEZ – Post-colonial South America had some interesting shit happen, which feeds the football culture that fermented wildly there. One such thing is the fact that a whole bunch of Italians immigrated to Argentina specifically, which has led to a metaphysical tendril between the two nations. A little less than two-thirds of Argentina’s population is estimated to have at least partial Italian heritage, and linguistically, Italian has actually influenced the dialect of the Spanish spoken in parts of Argentina and neighboring Uruguay. But it also means you will find no shortage of young, proud Argentine players who publicly go by the name “Guido” with no disregard for the slang stereotype associated with that name, as an overly perhaps toxically masculine Italian descendant. The name just means “Guy”, perhaps from German for “wood” or perhaps from Latin for “guide”. But Guido Rodriguez is a young Argentine who maxed out his domestic presence (which you’ll come to learn means “did he play for River Plate or Boca Jrs?” and in Rodriguez’s case, means River Plate), where he wasn’t getting any playing time, so he has come to Club America. All of this gives you a good idea on the international pecking order of things, as a superb Argentine would likely have landed in Spain or Italy early on, but if not, they would’ve excelled in Argentina for one of the major clubs or gone off to the rotating cast of the other batch that tries to contend there, which generally other clubs do. Both Argentina and Mexico run in split seasons, so there’s an Apertura and Clausura to each year, with champions for each half-year, as well as domestic cups, and matches between cup winners and league winners, as well as season-ending matches between the two half-year league winners. It all adds up to this constant clusterfuck of football where there’s no real long period off (other than summer, unless there’s an international competition going on and you’re good enough to play in it), but also it’s not as heartbreaking if you finish runner-up, like it’s not life or death, although if it’s against the wrong club, then it might be. Anyways, all this is to say, when you add all this up, a 25-year-old Argentine dude named Guido is the ABSOLUTELY PERFECT fucker to be a defensive midfielder at Club America, because – again – defensive midfielder is the perfectly football metaphysical spot to have strange spirit warriors to initiate rapid accelerations between offense and defense. And you need that shit to be primal, built into the tendrils of their cells, because no director tecnico (or rudo) is gonna be on the grass making that shit happen. And no matter how much a giant Chris Farley looking fucker is bouncing around on the sideline, you’re not gonna notice him as fast as you do a dangerous-looking steel-eyed dude named Guido dashing at you with instructions on the pitch during the match who cut his footballing teeth in the sometimes literally cut throat world of Argentine futbol. Of course, a late note to all this is Guido may go to La Liga, finally hitting the big time of European football.

#4: BRUNO VALDEZ – Paraguayan defender fills the gaps in the middle and right, in his fourth year at Club America after coming over from his native country's most dominant club, Cerro Porteno. But more importantly, I'm having to read Spanish-language news sites to learn about current events with these dudes. For example, reading how Valdez has been very vocally supportive of America's transfers, I learned that "los fichajes" means signings.

#5: JORGE SANCHEZ – 22-year-old defender who looks to become a player for the national team in the coming World Cup cycle, oddly at right back instead of the left back he's become accustomed to, since America captain and legend Paul Aguilar occupies the left side. Strange how shit like that ends up developing a young talent into a more well-rounded player. If Aguilar eases out in the coming year, Sanchez will likely slide into that more natural fitting role for himself, which will also likely benefit the national team's larger ambitions. And Liga MX is definitely tied into the national team, as El Tri very purposefully pushes it's domestic league players onto the national team. Mexican football is corrupt as fuck actually, but it's hella fun.

#6: RENATO IBARRA – The philosophy of sumac kawsay is that nature has basic rights to existence that should not be infringed upon by men or their ridiculous nonsense. A culture with that type of big picture outlook on the world, where indigenous thought is still prevalent enough the rights of nature gets written into the government’s constitution, not to mention a high altitude space where most of the largest cities are almost two miles above sea level, all the combines to create some fun ass wingers. Like that’s not even me stretching to make a blurb. Ecuadorian wingers got flow. Renato Ibarra’s in his fourth season with Club America, and he’s a beautiful presence on the edge that keeps things moving. Ibarra’s one of the dudes I love watching from Liga MX as I’ve started following it more closely. He had some beef on the Ecuadorian national team though, having a dispute with former coach “Bolillo” Gomez, where Gomez claimed Ibarra said he had an ankle injury then left the team, but Ibarra said Bolillo showed up at his hotel room and kicked him off the team. Bolillo got dropped this past summer as Ecuador gears up for World Cup 2022 qualifying, which starts in March for CONMEBOL teams. You know who replaced Bolillo as manager for Ecuador though? Fuckin’ Jordi Cruyf, the son of Johan Cruyf aka the great mastermind of Total Football. I’m super intrigued by the combination of Total Football as filtered into a second generation cross-pollinating with the Rights of Nature in a free-flowing form of football. LOOK OUT FOR ECUADOR IN 2022 IS WHAT I’M SAYING.

#7: ROGER MARTINEZ – A young Colombian striker who has international notoriety enough, as he played youth football for the impressive Boca Juniors, came up pro in Argentina, spent a couple seasons in the Chinese Super League, and even part of a season on loan in La Liga to Villarreal. There's been talk of Italy's Genoa wanting him on a January loan with option to buy. A four continent professional though.

#8: GUILLERMO OCHOA – Ochoa absolutely stood on his fucking head in World Cup 2014, and became an international star, which led to top tier time in both La Liga in Spain as well as the past two seasons in Belgium. But a return home to Mexico at age 34 made sense, and reuniting with Herrera at the club he previously played for eight seasons in the first decade of adulthood, well this is the type of shit I will always mark out for. The club kid who became a national star there the first time, exploded to brief international sensation who rode out the notoriety that came with that, but also packed it in and came home again… now with nearly a decade of European and international football to add to his experiential database, to share with Club America’s mix of Western Hemisphere stars who are beyond their prime to go to Europe or still working towards that possibility.

#9: HENRY MARTIN – Success is about random shit a lot of times. Martin (with a decidedly Anglo-looking name) lit it up a few years back in Mexico’s second league, which earned him an individual promotion to Xolos, where he did well, but never necessarily appeared to be an en fuego striker. Two of those seasons, he played under Miguel Herrera though, and obviously Herrera saw something in the young dude, because Herrera brought him to America in December of 2017, and Martin’s been a fairly regular high-rotational striker for Herrera ever since, knocking in 30 goals over the past two calendar years. All coaches cultivate a core of their guys – dudes who have played with them before and know the fuckin’ deal. But Herrera seems to do even more than that, and have guys who buy in completely, and have their best times under him. Martin’s an example of that.

#10: SEBASTIAN CORDOVA – Mexican football has crazy youth system, with like two or three teams under the senior club, but they have three digit numbers. So when you're watching Copa MX, and like Club America might be resting their biggest stars, some dude will be out there just dominating shit with like #189 or some shit like that. I say all this because Cordova is only 22, and came up through the youth system at Club America, even though he didn't join them until 16. Dudes don't play on club youth teams at like age 6 or any shit like you see in England. But the young midfielder named Sebastian has had his whole footballing life with America thus far (although he got loaned out twice to lesser Liga MX clubs). Young Sebastian also got his first national team cap this past October in a friendly, and then actually scored a goal for El Tri in a CONCACAF Nations League match against lowly Bermuda.

#11: ANDRES IBARGUEN – There's a lot of Colombians in Liga MX. Ibarguen's one of them, playing as a winger for America. Upper South American wingers man, I'm telling you, that's where it's at. It's quickly becoming another basic cornerstone of football metaphysics idealism, along with African defensive midfielders and eastern European GKs.

#12: RICHARD SANCHEZ – Paraguayan who came to America this past August, and scored one of the two goals to force the penalty kicks finale to the Liguilla a couple weeks ago in Estadio Azteca. Monterrey of course beat America in that contest, but the 23-year-old Sanchez showed himself deserving of the move. It's weird to figure some of these transfers though, because his previous club, Olimpia in Paraguay, might be just as prominent a club in terms of Western Hemisphere football. But Mexican football pays really fucking well. It's a springboard for young early 20s South American talent to get a few seasons in where European scouts are watching, and possibly make a move onto those pastures. Of course, Europeans are always scouting Argentina and Brazil, but some of the other South American countries get sort of lost in the mix. Sanchez also got his first international goal this past summer for Paraguay, against Argentina in the Copa America.

#13: RUBEN GONZALEZ – Ruben Gonzalez was also a transfer to America from this past summer, though he just jumped from fellow Liga MX club Necaxa to America. In Liga MX, America is very much like the Manchester United in that if somebody stands out on another club (other than maybe a couple of the other bigger ones), nobody has the money to compete with America coming for them. It actually feels kind of shocking that America doesn't have more than 13 Liga MX/Primera Division titles - only 13, which sure, is the Mexican record, but since the seasons got split into two per year in 1998, they've only won 5, and only 3 in the past decade. Though to show their dominance, they've won the North American version of the Champions League two out of the last five years as well.

#14: AGUSTIN MARCHESIN – Marchesin had been the GK of choice up until this past summer, when he made the transfer to one of Portugal’s top clubs, FC Porto, as insurance back-up to Spanish super GK Iker Casillas, who had a heart attack. Marchesin’s actually started most of Porto’s matches so far this season, in his first one on European soil, which is pretty impressive late debut there for the 31-year old Argentine who’s been based in Mexico the past half-decade after only having played in his native Argentina for Lanus previously professionally.

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