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.

Tuesday, August 15

16-Man Metaphysical Roster: CLUB AMERICA

{Club America taking over an American stadium}

[16-Man Metaphysical Rosters are divined using a football metaphysics methodology where minutes played over the past 50 competitive club matches determines which 16 players constitute the strongest psychic influence over a club’s current psychic trajectory. Intuitive analysis is then added, with a decidedly un-American foundation. Football metaphysics believes in the beautiful game, not the modern corporate spectacle. We have more of a love for Maradona in Mexico than Messi in Miami. One North American club is done each month, divided equally between Liga MX and the MLS, as they are the top two leagues in our home country of America (because in footballing terms, many parts of America are actually Mexico). This is now a solo project again by Raven Mack, but used to be a small group effort, so it bears saying, Rest In Peace Neil.]

The Leagues Cup has been going on the past month, with the North American introduction to Lionel Messi (as well as refs disparately calling things in his goatness’s favor). This was the first one to include all the clubs in both MLS and Liga MX, and with the World Cup being hosted jointly in North America in 2026, I sometimes think we’re headed towards a multinational league (more so than the current US/Canada one); but also, I just don’t know. Mexico has the stronger and deeper football history, and to be honest, the better top clubs. But in order to make this big event happen, all the Mexican clubs had to agree to leave Mexico for the month and take no home matches. It’s very one-sided (as was the allocation of World Cup 2026 host cities), and I think the biggest obstacle to a unified North American land mass league is how far is Liga MX willing to compromise itself. The quality of the league (and the national team) has already suffered in recent years as Mexican clubs no longer compete in Copa Libertadores – a far more difficult and historic tournament than anything CONCACAF could come up with. That’s tied Mexican clubs to the MLS for international competitions, and a combination of MLS clubs getting better and Mexican clubs playing down to their opponents has closed the gap a good bit. But because of this long-term prognostication on my part that the business of football means the metaphysics will be compromised for some sort of hybrid MLS/Liga MX league of some sorts – even if it’s further expansion of this Leagues Cup nonsense – means I’m going to do a 16-man metaphysics for one North American club every month as well (hopefully, lol). I’ll alternate between Liga MX and MLS. And it only makes sense (even though I did actually use their performances in both domestic leagues and CONCACAF Champions League from the past 7 years in compiling this) to begin with Club América, which is like the Dallas Cowboys or Los Angeles Lakers of Mexican fútbol. In fact, in their appearances in Leagues Cup, it was wild to see how, no matter where in America (the county) they played, América (the club) had supporters turning out in huge numbers, turning stadiums yellow. The Chicago Fire match felt like an away game for the Fire, which was to be expected considering the large Mexican population in the Chicago area. But it didn’t really seem to matter where they were at, as supporters showed up for every match, making noise and dominating the stadium’s chant and cheer discourse. Club América is not on their best stretch though, despite still being a top club. They still have more Liga MX titles than anybody else, but they’re in the midst of a five-year dry spell (with Liga MX having two seasons per year, rather than just one); and they haven’t sniffed a Champions League title since going back-to-back in 2015 and 2016 (though they did lose the final to Monterrey in 2021). All of this despite being the home of major football figures both at the managerial and player level. Strangely, this past summer, there was a lot of talk of Gregg Berhalter coming in, as further sign of Mexican fútbol compromising itself for U.S. dollars, but thankfully that didn’t happen, and Brazilian André Jardine was brought in instead. Not exactly a proven entity, but obviously América felt the need to shake things up. Nonetheless, according to our advanced football metaphysics dorkmetrics (minutes played in the past 50 competitive club matches), here’s your top 16 forces on this Club América squad’s psyche (through August 08, 2023)…

#1: ÁLVARO FIDALGO – The flow of talent tends to be from the western hemisphere to Europe at a younger age, but if not good enough for the jump to Europe, a lot of Spanish-language South Americans come to Liga MX. And then fading stars make their way backwards on the exploitation migration channels as they age out of their prime. Álvaro Fidalgo is the somewhat rare example of a European player moving west (although one of Mexico’s biggest stars, André-Pierre Gignac of Tigres also went went), joining América on loan from a second division La Liga club in 2021, and then the move being made permanent. He’s become a fulcrum in the middle of the midfield for América, aiding in attack and distribution to more potent scoring threats (though he’s not above chipping in a goal himself). Fidalgo spent teen years at the Real Madrid youth academy, so he’s experienced football at a level a lot of Liga MX dudes have not, so even though he’s still only 26, he does have somewhat of an elder role with the club on the pitch.

#2: SEBASTIÁN CÁCERES – Cáceres is a young Uruguayan defender who made the jump from his youth team in his native country to América back in 2020. He’s actually gotten 3 appearances with the Uruguayan national team in the past couple years as well, but it’s doubtful he’ll grow into a player that makes the jump to Europe. Liga MX doesn’t have quite the same level of player movement every season that MLS does, but there’s still a good bit of it. A guy like Cáceres will likely see América get all they can out of him, then he’ll bounce between a couple other Liga MX clubs, before eventually heading back home a decade down the road. There’s an honorable tradition of South America players who aren’t quite great enough for Europe but can make a solid (and well-paying) career in Mexico, which is a top-paying league in this hemisphere.

#3: RICHARD SÁNCHEZ – Sánchez is honestly the fiery heart of this club a lot of times. The Paraguayan might not be as Mexican famous as Henry Martin or Julián Quiñones or Diego Valdés, but chances are if somebody has gotten pissed off and decided to angrily take over a match on offense, it’s gonna be Sánchez. My favorite club in Liga MX is Santos Laguna, and one of their best ever players in recent times was Brian Lozano (now at Atlas, and diminished after injury) but both Lozano and Sánchez similarly have this “fuck you” switch that you can actually get switched on, and know they are about to try and get as stupid as possible in owning a defender. And it’s great when it works. Sánchez has a whole lot more support than Lozano ever did, but they both have worked with Valdés, who definitely benefits from the presence of that type of attitude alongside him. I love Sánchez.

#4: DIEGO VALDÉS – Like I just said, I pull for Santos Laguna, and Valdés was a force for them for a while. He’ll hit 30 next January, so he’s obviously one of those dudes like I mentioned before that comes from a footballing nation (Chile) but not quite good enough to jump the Atlantic. He’s made a good living for himself, and remains a threat to score. Probably most notable for his time on the Chilean national team when he made racist slant eyes gesture before a match with South Korea in a friendly after World Cup 2018 had ended. Wears the #10 for Club América… an always important fact to note in Latin America.

#5: HENRY MARTÍN – #21 in your program, but number one in Club América’s supporters’ hearts, Martín has been figure on the squad for a long time now, having joined way back in December of 2017 when heavyweight coach (both figuratively and literally) Miguel Herrera was in charge. Martín’s also been a regular presence on the national team, and with both the national team and Club América occupying Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, it’s all helped Martín to be an outsized figure in Mexican football. That being said, the club’s lack of success in winning liguilla has corresponded directly with Martín’s time there. So I don’t know.

#6: ISRAEL REYES – Young defender who made the move to América from Puebla last winter, and has become key on that side of things pretty quickly. The exposure on a big club has helped him get more time on the national team this year as well, with 11 of his 14 appearances for El Tri coming in 2023. That gig at Estadio Azteca is still prominent at club level, to get you in the Mexican football mind’s eye.

#7: JONATHAN RODRÍGUEZ – Another Uruguayan who has bounced around Liga MX for a number of years, had a spell with Benfica in Portugal earlier in his career (but never stuck on the A team), and even spent the first half of last year playing for Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia, before the Cristiano Ronaldo torrent of European superstars took hold. Before the Saudi stint, he’d spent a number of seasons with Cruz Azul, who also play in Estadio Azteca, so the home of Mexican football has also been Rodríguez’s home since 2019 for the most part.

#8: MIGUEL LAYÚN – As Henry Martín is to the offensive side of Club América, Miguel Layún is on the defensive side. An elder statesmen of Mexican football, who spent a long time on El Tri, including at both the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, he had a major stint with América earlier in his career, bookended by prominent European experiences in Serie A with Atalanta and England with Watford. Layún played a number of years in Europe, in Portugal and Spain as well, returning to Mexico to join Monterrey in 2019, but coming home (sort of) to América in June of 2021. Even at 35, his presence looms large, often adorned with the captain’s armband.

#9: ALEJANDRO ZENDEJAS – Again, the migration pattern of players is generally speaking, Latin American players who aren’t going to a higher caliber league make their way to MLS, but you don’t see a lot of American players going to Liga MX. Alejandro Zendejas is the rare counter example, but also very much a part of both sides of the border, having been born and living in Juárez and El Paso. As a teen, he signed a contract with FC Dallas, but ended up joining Chivas pretty early on, and part of that deal was to agree to play for the Mexican national team rather than the US one, because Chivas wouldn’t have had him otherwise. He spent some time with Necaxa after Chivas, but then joined América January of last year. He’s steadily gotten minutes as a winger since then. He also became source of controversy between national teams last year, as FIFA investigated him being played in a couple friendlies by El Tri despite not having filed the proper paperwork for national team allegiance. (Zendejas played as a youth player for the US.) The eventual outcome was that Mexico had to forfeit all matches Zendejas appeared in (the two friendlies, plus a few U-23 matches he played in) and he switched back to the US team, even scoring a goal for them against Grenada in Nations League play. It seems shocking he’d remain in Mexico after all that, but thus far, he’s remained a part of Club América. Still only 25, I would not be shocked to see him come back across the Rio Grande to one of the Texas teams in the near future.

#10: NÉSTOR ARAUJO – Araujo’s another long-time Mexican defender for the national team, who spent long stints at both Cruz Azul and Santos Laguna, as well as Celta de Vigo in Spain for four years. As is often the case with big names that went to Europe, América was the most likely landing spot upon returning to Mexico. He and Layún make a pretty legendary tandem on defense, both huge names in Mexican football, but Club América specializes in those. Got no idea on how payrolls are in Liga MX, but nobody has TV deals and merchandise moving like América. They can afford people nobody else in Mexico can.

#11: LUIS FUENTES – And Fuentes is like the other side of a Liga MX defender to Araujo and Layún. Fuentes played a decade for Pumas, and has bounced around a few other clubs, so is well known in his three year stint with América. But he’s only had a single appearance of the national team in that long and competent career. He’s still strong by Liga MX standards, but also 36. They got a couple younger folks on defense (the two Reyeses), but damn, they got some age out there too.

#12: LUIS MALAGÓN – Mexican GK getting his highest profile gig after periods with Morelia and Necaxa. His signing was no small deal because he came in to replace Mexican legend Guillermo Ochoa, who dazzled the world at World Cup 2014. Malagón’s gotten a couple of caps for the national team himself, but he’ll never be at that level of Ochoa. However, Ochoa has gotten older, and current Malagón is an upgrade to current Ochoa, who took a contract in Italy to play last December the same time Malagón joined América. It’s tough replacing a national legend like that, even if Ochoa’s best moments didn’t come during that Club América stint, but Malagón has done well.

#13: SALVADOR REYES – The other of the dos Reyes who are the younger defenders helping keep the club up to speed. They’re not related, and Salvador plays on the left side, and has been with the club a couple years longer, but has found it harder to keep his minutes on América’s crowded roster.

#14: LEONARDO SUÁREZ – Suárez has a solid footballing pedigree, having grown up and first featured as at the senior level for Boca Juniors (one of the top clubs in this hemisphere), and then spending five years in Spain under contract to Villarreal. He came back to this half of the Earth in January 2020, joining América, and though he spent a year loaned to Santos Laguna, since he’s returned, he’s forced his way into the conversation as being a necessary member of their squad. Nonetheless, it’s a crowded squad, with Martín and Julián Quiñones needing their time as well, so Suárez is likely seen as expendable by the club ultimately. Wouldn’t be surprising to see him loaned out again to another Liga MX club for a year, or even make the jump to MLS. He’d do pretty good against American competition.

#15: EMILIO LARA – The youngest (21) most promising defender of all on this squad, who also has expectations for him at the national team level. Lara joined América at age 15 as a youth player, and the 2022-23 season really asserted himself as a key member of the squad. He also got his first national team appearance too, and thus far has spent his entire professional career at Club América. Even in Mexico, homegrown players can be rare, because on a club like this, rarely is a young player good enough to start in front of the expensive veterans, but Lara has carved his spot. And with the age of some of the older guys, his role will likely only grow.

#16: ÓSCAR JIMÉNEZ – Jiménez is another example of becoming a prominent player on big domestic club with zero international presence. He’s considered one of the captains of the club, and has held onto a GK slot over the years since 2017, despite being supplanted by first Ochoa and now Malagón. When he first came on, it was a back-up to a different guy back then, so he’s handled the role well, of maintaining that secondary beta position, but stepping up whenever necessary. It’s a rare aesthetic to be a highly competent back-up GK like that, but Giménez plays it well, which is why he is one of the club’s captains despite not being a regular member of the starting XI.

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