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America de Cali

Corporacion Deportiva America, commonly known as America de Cali, is a Colombian football team, based in Cali. The club was founded in 1927. America is widely recognized as one of the most notable and traditional clubs in Colombian soccer history, being the club to have won the second largest number of Futbol Profesional Colombiano titles (The Colombian First Division). It is considered to be one of the South American soccer powerhouses, because of its international appearances and its worldwide famous players. America is also known as "La Mechita," literally meaning in English "The Fuse" like that of bottle-rocket firework; when the team plays well the fans say "se prendio la mechita", which means "the fuse has ignited". America is recognized as having produced Colombia's top players and they are constantly being exported to leagues across the world. Most of the famous Colombian players that now triumph across the world of soccer and the Colombian national team, were made famous while playing for this institution. However, the past few years have shown a deterioration of the talent that once ranked it among the world's best.

History

The beginning

The team's roots trace all the way back to 1918, when some students from Colegio Santa Librada formed their own team, called "America F.C.", to compete with other schools. The team won the Copa Centenario Batalla de Boyaca in 1919. The team's uniform was light blue with white vertical stripes, light blue shorts, and socks with horizontal stripes in white and light blue.

America de Cali was founded on February 13 1927 in some of the poorest neighborhoods of Cali, then an economically emerging city in Colombia. After being expelled inexplicably from the regional tournament, America decides to tour the country in order to continue playing the sport, thus becoming the first Colombian team to play around the country. On February 16 1948, America officially becomes the first professional Colombian soccer team, and had a large part in creating the first Colombian professional soccer tournament that took place that year.

The curse of "Garabato"

Benjamin Urrea, better known as "Garabato", was a dentist and one of the most faithful fans of "la mechita". However, he was very strongly opposed to the professionalization of the club and when he learned of this process being carried out by Humberto Salcedo Fernandez, he placed a curse on the institution. He is quoted as saying "que lo vuelvan professional, que hagan con el equipo lo que quieran... que, por mi Dios, America nunca sera campeon", which means that if the team is profesionalized, I swear to God that it will never be champion. Although it is said that this curse was broken in 1979 when the team obtained its first national title, there are many people who believe the curse still holds true in the Copa Libertadores since America has reached 4 finals and never been able to win the cup. The popular "Garabato" passed away on January 5, 2008 in Cali.

The first championships

America got off to a slow start in the Colombian tournament, not achieving even the runner-up position until 1960 and not playing its first Copa Libertadores until 1969. However, the team went through a radical change in 1979, hiring Gabriel Ochoa Uribe as its Coach. During the 12 years Gabriel Ochoa Uribe worked as coach of the team, America obtained its first seven National Cup's and rapidly created an immense diversity of fans that cheered it around the country. During these years, America finished second place in the Copa Libertadores consecutively from 1985-1987.

1979 "Aquel 19" The First Star

Every achievement America de Cali had made throughout its history would be surpassed on December 19, 1979, better known as "Aquel 19" like the popular song by Alberto Beltran. Among these achievements were the 5-0 victory over Deportivo Cali, the undefeated season of 1967, the Second Place finish in 1960 and 1969, and their impressive journey in the 1970 Copa Libertadores. On "Aquel 19" ("That 19"), the entire city of Cali celebrated the team's first national title. Gabriel Ochoa Uribe said, "We are going to be champions. We deserve it. The popular neighborhoods of Cali deserve it. This night we will write history." That night, America de Cali overcame a difficult adversary Union Magdalena, in order to be recognized as the 1979 Colombian Soccer Champion. This unforgettable night, the entire city was painted red with the fans who celebrated until the next day.

1982 A Title in the Cold

After just three years of winning their first title, America de Cali was heading towards their second one. It was a cold and grey morning that day in Bogota, where the team faced Millonarios. With noise and an old bus, America de Cali arrived to the stadium Nemesio Camacho (El Campin). Calenos that lived in the city came to support the team as well as many fans arriving from Cali. Millonarios came out with their full attack, but America de Cali played with tranquility and soon enough the first goal came As they kept a close watch on the other games being played that day, America de Cali withstood the constant attack of Millonarios. Time took an important role and as it ran down, it only benefited America de Cali. Deportes Tolima had won their match, Pereira were tying their match, and Nacional had scored their second goal. Everything was going their way and the only thing left to do was win the game against Millonarios. The final minutes were very tense, but once the referee blew the whistle, the fans were able to chant once more, "America Campeon".

1983 Third Star

America de Cali began the season with some changes to create a stronger team for the Copa Libertadores. It included the arrivals of Daniel Teglia, Claudio Casares, Willington Ortiz, Rafael "Vallenato" Agudelo, Henry Alape, Jorge Porras, and Luis Antonio Marcollata. They also brought reinforcement with Brazilians Ademir Praticio and Coccota. With a good participation in the Copa Libertadores America de Cali were eliminated in the semifinal round. Gabriel Ochoa Uribe used his experience to prevent the players from losing their head, in order to accomplish one of the two titles. Willington Ortiz and Juan Manuel Battaglia shone for the team and the dynamic duo combined, scored 40 goals that season. Once the second round began only one team was considered favorite, America de Cali. With the spirit and hard work, America de Cali were back to back champions.

1984 "Champions for a While"

With the same tactics and strength, America de Cali went for their fourth star. With minor changes in the team, it looked to head for their third consecutive title. Under the management of Gabriel Ochoa Uribe, it seemed that the next star would once again be red. Ochoa, showing the country that he was one of the best coaches at the time, proved it by leading the team to various accomplishments. With the fourth star in his pocket, Ochoa showed that America de Cali was here to stay for good.

1985 Fifth Star; Champions once Again

With a great team and head coach, the "Red Devil" fans felt the star at hand. Everyone remembering their first star just 6 years before. These last few years had been great for the team and its history. With a quick season, America de Cali was awaiting once again the last match to become champions once again. They faced an Junior team, who did not want to get humiliated in their last game. America de Cali came out with everything, putting in two creative midfielders, Roberto Cabanas and Alex Escobar. With a quick goal it seemed to be an easy game for the Devils, but Junior pulled together and played it safe, to at least leave with a decent result. America de Cali continued to attack, but the opponent's defense stood well and did not let anything else happen. With a few plays dangerous plays from both sides, in the end, America won with a minimum difference 1-0, obtaining the fifth star for the "Red Devils".

1986 Five consecutive titles

The "Red Devils" made history this year by obtaining five national titles in a row; the highest number of consecutive titles previously was four, by Millonarios. The star was won against their rivals Deportivo Cali, which made the achievement even more special for both the fans and the players.

The Libertadores finals

1985 America reached its first Copa Libertadores final against Argentinos Juniors. In a tie breaker match in Asuncion, America was defeated in penalty kicks. The final shot was originally assigned to the goalie Julio Cesar Falcioni, but he backed out last minute and the responsibility was given to Antony de Avila, who failed to score and as a result America lost the final.

1986 This year, America reached the final of Copa Libertadores for the second time in a row. This time the opponent was River Plate, but once again America would fall short of their objective. River Plate was superior to America that year and won both matches with goals by "El Bufalo" Funes.

1987 For the third time in a row, America was able to reach the final and again without success. The rival this year was Penarol; the first match in Cali was won by America 2-0 and the second match in Montevideo was won by Penarol 2-1, which brought on a third match to break the tie. During the third match in Santiago de Chile, America played a defensive game and were the champions until the final 10 seconds of the match, but then Diego Aguirre scored a goal for Penarol and took the title literally in the final moment. This was devastating for America because it was the third Libertadores final lost back to back.

*It is also important to note that seconds before the goal, the referee Hernan Silva, omitted a clear foul committed against Victor Luna. Another curios fact is that had the present tournament rules been applied, America would be the winner and with more reason if the "visitor's goal" rule is used. The next year in 1988, the rules were changed and a third "tie breaker match" was no longer played.

1990s

The 1989 tournament was suspended due to the assassination of the referee, Alvaro Ortega. The following year in 1990, America de Cali was once again champion and the following year marked the departure of Gabriel Ochoa Uribe. With his departure, many feared that the winning streak for the "Red Devils" was over. Despite this belief, in 1992, with Francisco Maturana as head coach and Diego Edison Umana as assistant, America obtained its eighth star and appeared to continue its winning streak from the prior decade. Five years later, America de Cali was able to taste another championship; this was the longest tournament in the history of Colombian Professional Soccer, lasting a year and a half. During this year, America held the first position during the entire tournament and they were crowned champions of the 1996-1997 season after the final match against Atletico Bucaramanga.

Also in 1996, America was recognized by the IFFHS official world club ranking as the second best team in the world, preceded by Juventus of Italy. In 1999, America disputed the national title with Atletico Nacional, in the end losing by way of penalty kicks. After playing two finals in less than three days, America finished the year off with excellent achievements: runner-up of Copa Mustang and winner of the 1999 edition of Copa Merconorte, the team's first international title, against Santa Fe.

The fourth Libertadores final "Garabato strikes again"

1996 America de Cali once again reached the final of the Copa Libertadores, again with River Plate. America won the first game in Cali 1-0 with an excellent goal by Antony de Avila from a very closed angle. This was America's chance for revenge after the loss in the 1986 final against the same rival, but in the end America lost famously on an Oscar Cordoba error. The first goal was scored by Hernan Crespo and in an incredible play by Oscar Cordoba, where he left the box and did not clear the ball correctly, Hernan Crespo scored the second goal.

The new millennium and the "Clinton List"

Despite having won the Colombian League three more times from 2000-2002, America has entered the millennium in economic hardship and unable to prove the team that astonished the world in the 1980s. In 1995, Corporacion Deportiva America was placed under watch by Executive Order 12978, commonly known in Colombia as the Clinton List. Because of its past connections with drug cartels, the United States froze the team's assets in the U.S. (valued around $1 Million), and ordered other companies not to conduct direct business with America. Also,

according to the club's president,

Carlos Puente, the club never received the prize money of

$200,000 from the Copa Merconorte championship. Since then, America's economic crisis has been severe. Currently immersed in nearly $2 million dollars worth of debt, America has survived four years without a direct sponsor and only receiving money through minimum attendance at the Pascual Guerrero and the selling of soccer jerseys. The monthly salaries of its players do not exceed $3000 dollars, and America has seen itself forced to make money by selling its most recognized players.

However, despite its troubling economic situation, America has maintained a very respectable level of play and still holds a strong tradition as a historical team, although this is slowly fading too. In 2003, America again faced River Plate in the quarterfinal round of the Copa Libertadores, and got their revenge by winning 4-1 (see video).

After three tournaments without reaching the final round, in 2007 America was finally able to do so with Diego Edinson Umana as head coach and the assistance of Alex Escobar. The team made an excellent season and was a firm candidate to win the tournament, in the end falling short by only one goal. Despite this, the team was not left empty-handed since they obtained a berth to Copa Sudamericana 2008, after 3 years of not participating in an international event. For the 2008 season, Diego Umana extended his contract and is currently in the process of preparing the team for both Copa Mustang and Copa Sudamericana.

Rivalries

America de Cali vs Deportivo Cali

This game is called "el clasico vallecaucano", which translated into English means "the cauca valley derby". There is a long standing rivalry between these two teams and they have 20 titles combined (one more than Millonarios vs Santa Fe combined), making Cali one of the most important cities in this sport. The first trace of this derby match was in the final of a local tournament in 1931, where America was defeated by The Cali Football Club 0-1; the referee did not count two of America's goals because of supposed offsides plays. Due to the referee's poor performance, America published a series of articles as a protest, leading to the team's suspension from local tournaments for a period of one year. In 1986, America obtained its fifth consecutive title in the final match agains Deportivo Cali and also another title in 1992. This match currently brings 30 to 35 thousand spectators to the stadium.

America de Cali vs Atletico Nacional

This is one of the most followed games in Futbol Profesional Colombiano and by many it is considered to be the "superclasico" of Colombia, very similar to a Boca Juniors vs River Plate match. Since 1979, America and Nacional have seen each other in 15 finals . The most recent final between the two was in 2002, where America was able to defeat Nacional in both matches and as a result obtained the 12th title in its history. Statistics from matches between these two teams show that this is the most even "clasico", with 79 wins for America, 74 for Nacional, and 75 draws. The first time they faced each other in Copa Libertadores was in 1991, and up to this date America has 6 victories, Nacional has 4, and there was one draw.

America de Cali vs Millonarios: the "clasico" with the most stars

These two teams combined have 25 titles and also count with numerous supporter groups known as barras bravas. The rivalry began in the late 70s when America obtained its first title and it grew throughout the 80s, a decade dominated by these two teams. Out of the 10 titles from this decade America won 5 of them and Millonarios won 2. In the 1982 final, America de Cali defeated Millonarios in El Campin, reaching the second title in the club's history. This game was known to paralize the entire country and they fought the 1989 title shoulder to shoulder, until it was cancelled.

America de Cali vs Santa Fe: the dispute over the color red

This is a much more recent rivalry which does not have an exact date of origin, but it is said that it originated in the late 80s and early 90s when many of Santa Fe's best players were transferred to America de Cali, with little economic compensation and in the end favored America in obtaining various titles. In the 1999 edition of Copa Merconorte, these two teams faced each other in the final, where America won 2-1 in Cali and Santa Fe won 1-0 in Bogota. Finally, the game was decided in penalty shootouts, where America obtained its first international title.

On May 11th, 2005, in a game between the two in El Campin, a fight broke out between the teams' barras bravas leaving one dead person. The game was suspended, declaring America the winner by 5-2. This unfortunate event made the rivalry grow even more, although this only occurs in the city of Bogota; in Cali it is just another game.

Fans

The first traditional supporter groups originated during the 1970s, such as "Estrella Roja", "El Reloj", "Sentimiento Rojo" and "Aquel 19" among others. Most of these groups still exist today and locate themselves in the east section of the stadium. In 1991, "La Furia Roja" was born, which was mainly conformed by adults from poor neighborhoods in Cali and characterized themselves with travelling long distances across the country with the team. In 1997, a group of adolescents formed America's first barra brava and named

it "Baron Rojo Sur". From its creation, the supporter group is known for having

large numbers of fans throughout the country and in cities around the world such as New York and Miami. A great variety of chants have been composed by "Baron Rojo Sur" members, taking the instrumentals of popular songs, of various genres, as models. The latest musical work is called "La Cumbia del Rojo", which was launched in mid 2007 and has gained a great deal of popularity among America fans throughout the country. The name of the supporter group was inspired by a Spanish rock band called Baron Rojo and "Sur", meaning "South", comes from where they situate themselves in the stadium. Another group with a large number of fans is "Disturbio Rojo" from Bogota.

During the Copa Mustang II 2007, the average assistance in home games was 20,440 spectators per match.

Copa Mustang 2008

Copa Mustang I

The new season began on July 22 and America did very well, and was a firm candidate to win the championship, but in the end fell one goal short. Nonetheless, the team made an excellent season and obtained a berth to Copa Sudamericana 2008

Fixtures & Results

International Appearances

Copa Libertadores

*Runners-up: 1985, 1986, 1987 y 1996

*Semi-final: 1980, 1983, 1988, 1992, 1993 y 2003

*Quarter-final: 1991 y 2001

*First Stage: 1970, 1984, 2005

Copa Merconorte

*Champion: 1999

*First Stage: 1998, 2000 y 2001

Copa Sudamericana:

*First Stage: 2002

*Will participate in Copa Sudamericana 2008

Copa Conmebol:

*Semi-final: 1995

Presidents

1948 Humberto Salcedo Fernandez

1949 Manuel Correa Valencia

1950 Luis Carlos Cardenas

1951/1955Manuel Correa Valencia

1956/1964 Pedro Sellares

1961 Gustavo Valdes

1965 Jorge Rengifo

1966 Gonzalo Zambrano

1966/1973 Alberto Anzola

1974/1975 Juan De Dios Guerrero

1976/1978 Ricardo Leon Ocampo

1979/1986 Jose Sanguiovanni

1987/1991 Juan Jose Bellini

1993/1994 Pedro Chang

1994/1996 Alvaro Munoz Castro

1996/Present Carlos Puente

Records and curiosities

America is the only team to have won five consecutive titles in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, and 1986.

It is the Colombian team to have played the most Copa Libertadores finals, three of the consecutively in the years 1985, 1986, 1987, and 1996.

It was the last team to win the long version of the tournament (2001) and the first to win the short version (2002-I).

America won the first three cups of the millennium.

It's the second of three clubs to achieve ten national championships, behind Club Deportivo Los Millonarios and ahead of Atletico Nacional.

It's also the second most successful team in national tournaments, having 12 titles, behind Los Millonarios, who has 13.

It's the second Colombian team to win an international title, the first team being Atletico Nacional.

In the last 30 years, it is the team to have won the most championships in Colombia.

To this date America is the only Colombian team to reach the 2nd place in the official world club ranking.

In 1967, America went undefeated for 22 games and in 1984 beat its own record with 23 games undefeated. Currently, America holds the third place in this record, preceded by Millonarios on two occasions(24 and 26 games undefeated).

The biggest shut-out in the history was against Cucuta Deportivo, where America won 9-0.

The player that won the most championships with a single team is Antony de Avila, with 8 titles.

The coach that won the most championships with a single team is Gabriel Ochoa Uribe, with 7 titles.

America de Cali beat Maradona's Argentinos Juniors 3-2 in a friendly tournament played in Cali.

America was extremely close to signing Diego Armando Maradona for 3 million dollars for a period of 6 months. Unfortunately, this deal fell through due to the numerous offers from European clubs.

In the 1980s, the head coach Gabriel Ochoa Uribe was offered a goalie who was beginning to show off his abilities. Ochoa refused the offer due to the brilliant performances by [[Julio Cesar Falcioni. The goalkeeper who was close to signing with America was none other than Jose Luis Chilavert, one of the best in the world.

In the 80s decade, America possessed the most expensive roster in the continent.

Gabriel Ochoa Uribe played America's first professional team in 1948, and as a coach gave the team its first title in 1979.

Uniform

Home uniform: Red shirt, shorts, and socks.

Away uniform: White shirt, shorts, and socks.

Third unidorm: Black shirt, shorts, and socks.

According to historic versions, America first started out using the colors blue and white, which belonged to Racing Club from Avellaneda; then America switched to red and blue. From 1927 to 1931, it alternated between a red shirt and white shorts to a white shirt and red shorts. An article written in El Grafico, where the America players were referred to as "red devils", caused a special impression and from that moment the uniform was completely red.

Crest

The devil first appeared on the crest in 1940 because of the popular belief that the players "played like devils" on the field. During Gabriel Ochoa Uribe's twelve years with the institution, the devil was always an inconvenience for him so it was removed due to religious reasons. For this reason, the crest only carried the number of stars or titles obtained by the club.

In 1992, the devil was completely removed and was only used for the administrative aspects of the institution. As a celebration of the club's 70 years, the devil was put back on the uniforms. From this date forward, any malignant beliefs regarding the devil have been completely removed. In 2007, in order to conmemorate the club's 80 years of existence, the devil was temporarily replaced with a logo that reads "80 anos" (80 years) and underneath "1927-2007"; above the crest are the 12 stars obtained by the club.

Stadium

Estadio Olimpico Pascual Guerrero

Current squad

As of january 23, 2008

Reserve & Youth Squad

Transfers 2008

;In

;Out

Eligible to transfer

Top scorers

Most games played

Notable Players

Honors

Amateur era

Copa Centenario Batalla de Boyaca: 1919

Departamental Championship (3): 1923, 1927, 1931

National tournaments

Mustang Cup:

*Winners (12): 1979, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1990, 1992, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002-I

International tournaments

Copa Merconorte:

*Winners (1): 1999

Copa Libertadores:

*Runners-up (4): 1985, 1986, 1987, 1996

Named second best team in the world in 1996.

Friendly tournaments

Cali Cup: 1979

Osvaldo Zubeldia Cup: 1982

Simon Bolivar Cup: 1976

Vina del Mar Cup: 2000

SKY Cup: 2001

Cafam 50 Anos Cup: 2008

Reserve teams tournaments

National Reserves Tournament (5): 1966, 1967, 1981, 2003, 2004

Primera C (2): 1996, 1998

El Pais Cup (2): 2006, 2007

External links

Corporacion Deportiva America de Cali

Official DIMAYOR Page

Official Myspace Fan Page

Official Baron Rojo Sur Fan Page

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article America de Cali


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