Omar Gonzalez of Club Atlas talks about friendly match against Club America
Ready your drums and vuvuzelas! One of México’s most-revered soccer teams, Club América, returns to the Central Valley for a Mexican exhibition against Club Altas at Chukchansi Park.
The two Mexican Soccer Club’s First Division squads will face off 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 11, in downtown Fresno. The day at Chukchansi Park begins with Fiesta Folklórico at 3:30 p.m. with the Águilas (Eagles) de América and Atlas kicking off at 7:30 p.m.
Club América’s reverence comes from over 100 years in existence. Its popularity is worldwide and coupled with 12 Federación Mexicana de Fútbol (Mexican Soccer Federation) league titles. Only fellow squad, Chivas de Guadalajara, has the same number of league titles.
“We know there’s going to be a lot of fanatics wearing the bright yellow (América’s jersey color) in Fresno. It’s going to be loud,” said Latin Entertainment CEO René Villanueva.
The Águilas, who finished second this past league season among the 18 First Division soccer clubs in México, has compiled over 33 titles in the CONCACAF region. Club Atlas was a 15th-place finisher in the Clausura tournament. Several of México’s soccer clubs are touring in-and-out of the country participating in pre-season friendlies (amistosos in Spanish), ahead of México’s Apertura tournament, which kicks off on July 20.
The Latin Entertainment summer tour, he said, visits Texas and San José, and includes Monarcas Morelia, Santos Laguna and Pachuca, all Mexican First Division clubs. One tour stop, Phoenix in late July, features English Premier League squad, Manchester United, known as “ManU,” in an international showdown against Club América.
“It’s going to be a good experience because it’s like you’re right there with the players,” Villanueva said, “Soccer, it’s very big. All these matches is because we have the support of the fans. It’s always popular in this community, especially with the World Cup. It’s the best of México for those, but not just Mexicans, following América here in the community.”
Leading the Americanistas is Miguel Herrera, know as “El Piojo,” he’s also a former Mexican national team coach. He’s managed at least eight Mexican squads since 2002.
“Everyone knows Miguel is a great coach. His experience is grand among the Mexican people,” said Villanueva.
Among the likely players for the Aguilas are Roger Martínez, a Colombian forward who is the latest arrival to the club from Villarreal CF of Spain’s La Liga, Argentine goalie Augustín Marchesín and Mexican midfielder Joe Corona. Martínez scored both goals in the 2-0 friendly over Monarcas Morelia on July 8 in San José. Atlas, known as the rojinegros (red and black), will be without Rafael Márquez, but Villanueva promises a good showing in Fresno.
Márquez, who played his fifth and final World Cup appearance this year, announced his retirement after last season, but his name is still listed on the roster.
It was Latin Entertainment that delivered the Águilas and Mexican squad Jaguares to Fresno in 2012, when extra tickets were sold along the Chukchansi Park concourse 30 minutes before kickoff to handle the crowd. The 16,000-plus attendance broke a Chukchansi Park record.
“We opened the door with América in 2012, and, since then, we have Morelia, Chivas, Jaguares,” said Villanueva, “And we’re checking, in September, on Club León and maybe Morelia in Fresno. They have other commitments, but all the players like coming to Fresno.”
Available tickets start at $55 to $100 for field access. All the $30 tickets are sold out.
Call the Chukchansi Park ticket office at (559) 320-8497 to purchase tickets by phone. Tickets can also be purchased at ticketon.com, ticketvip.net or any Don Roberto Joyería in Fresno.