After having failed in their bid to retain their title this past weekend as they lost to Leon in the Liga MX Apertura 2013 Final, Club America now find themselves in a situation where they will be coached by someone not named Miguel Herrera as he departs to take over coaching duties of the Mexican National Team on a full time basis. The man who will now have to follow up what as been a very good two year run by Herrera is a man who is familiar to Mexican futbol in Antonio Mohamed.
Mohamed, who is known by his nickname of ‘El Turco’, will be the man who will set up and have to coach one of Mexico’s giant teams and succeed the coach most responsible for this current run that Club America has enjoyed. I must admit the idea for this article sprung when as I was on my daily weekday run and was listening to the ESPN Deportes Radio program Raza Deportiva. They talked about what will change with the on-field product of Club America now that Mohamed will take over as a coach.
Under Herrera, America played in a 3-5-2 formation with three central defenders, two wing backs and either one holding midfielder with three attacking players or two holding midfielders with one having more attacking freedom. They also deployed two forwards or one natural forward with a withdrawn forward/No. 10 in support. This formation along with Herrera’s penchant for fielding teams who press and are more comfortable attacking and initiating saw a team who generated numerous scoring chances and was capable of scoring numerous goals.
Looking back at Mohamed’s previous teams, and in particular the teams he coached at with Xolos de Tijuana whom won the Apertura 2012 title and reached the quarterfinals of the 2013 edition of the Copa Libertadores, his teams looked quite different. Those Mohamed teams played either in a 4-4-2, 4-5-1, and at times in a 4-3-1-2 formation depending on the opposition. Aside from formation, Mohamed can be considered to be more practical as a coach, and his teams in the past have been more comfortable being the counter attacker and letting others take the initiative in attacking.
Looking at the players that Club America have now and who may be brought in during the short time between the Apertura 2013 and Clausura 2014 seasons, my guess is that Mohamed will go with a 4-5-1 formation. In that case, expect to see both Miguel Layun and Paul Aguilar play as defensive fullbacks as opposed to wing backs like they did in Herrera’s 3-5-2 formation. If this is the case then expect to see a player like Juan Carlos Valenzuela, who played as a central defender with Herrera, be relegated to the bench as a result of a change in formation.
Another area which will see some change as a result of Mohamed coming in to coach America will be the midfield. The first obvious change will be that America will play with two holding midfielders as opposed to the one they played with for the vast majority of the Apertura 2013 season. That means you can expect to see Jesus Molina now a regular part of the starting eleven alongside Juan Carlos Medina. In addition, a player like Rubens Sambueza may not be a prominent fixture in Mohamed’s starting eleven given that unlike a player like Luis Mendoza, he does not do as much tracking back to take care of defensive responsibilities like Mendoza is willing to do.
Whether or not El Turco Mohamed will be able to succeed and not succumb to the pressure of being the coach of Club America while also having the added burden of taking over for a coach who guided the club into a period of much sporting success can be debated and discussed. In the meantime, what we do know is that their will be some formational and potential tactical changes coming that will be intriguing.