Manuel Lapuente, Club America's new head coach (if you can truly call him new), knows what's expected at Mexico's richest club: “To win championships.”
Lapuente, who stepped down as an America vice president in May to take the reins, for the fourth time since 2001, had the Aguilas looking like champs in a 2-1 triumph Saturday night at the Rose Bowl over Mexico City rival Cruz Azul.
Not that that means a thing. It was just the Aguilas' second preseason test; their first real game comes July 24 at Pachuca, the reigning CONCACAF champion, not until friendlies next week against Portsmouth in San Diego and Juventus outside Dallas.
America, which last won a Primera Division title, its 10th, in 2005, has endured several disappointing campaigns and one tragedy, the shooting in January of star Paraguayan forward Salvador Cabañas, who is in rehabilitation in an Asuncion hospital.
His departure left the Aguilas without a true finisher, which two moves -- one bearing fruit Saturday night, the other still, mysteriously, unofficial -- are meant to correct.
Matias Vuoso, the longtime Santos marksman who nearly made Mexico's World Cup team, scored America's first goal -- and his first since rejoining the club he played with in 2006. Uruguayan striker Vicente Sanchez, en route from Germany's Schalke 04, hasn't arrived yet.
Word is he hasn't yet passed his physical but is expected to join the club Sunday. It's doubtful he'll play Wednesday in San Diego, but action next Sunday in Texas is possible. Unofficially, of course. Club America hasn't acknowledged his acquisition, although everybody in Mexico -- and north of the border, too -- is clued in.
The real star for America on Saturday was Argentine forward Daniel Montenegro. It was his defense-splitting pass, from inside Aguilas territory, that sent Vuoso on his breakaway in the 35th minute. Montenegro bettered that 96 seconds later with a brilliant side-volley from the top of the box, from Israel Martinez's cross, inside the left post.
Cruz Azul's goal came with the next-to-last touch of the game, a 28-yard free kick that Christian Gimenez curled inside the left post.
Announced attendance was 22,395.