Jiménez vs Malagón: who will be América’s first-choice goalkeeper?

Luis Malagón has been confirmed as Club América’s second close-season signing ahead of the Clausura 2023 tournament, the former Necaxa goalkeeper joining defender Israel Reyes in moving to the Estadio Azteca.

Ochoa departs for Italy

Earlier this week, América announced the departure of first-choice keeper Guillermo Ochoa, who leaves the 13-time Mexican champions to sign for Serie A side Salernitana. Ochoa will be playing for his fifth European club and in his fourth different country on the continent. The 37-year-old has previously plied his trade in France, Spain and Belgium.

If ‘Memo’ had decided to stay at América, Óscar Jiménez would have departed, with Tijuana the most attractive option available to the 34-year-old. In the wake of Ochoa’s exit, however, Jiménez is set to stay – and will fight it out with Malagón to be América’s new No. 1.

Who’ll get the nod? Let’s recap the two candidates’ careers so far:

Luis Malagón

Malagón, 25, made his professional debut in February 2016 against Necaxa, as a Monarcas Morelia player. He has made a total 96 appearances in the Liga MX: 24 of those with Morelia, the rest for Necaxa. He has conceded 127 goals overall, and kept 24 clean sheets.

At international level, Mexican Olympic coach Jaime Lozano called Malagón up for qualifying for Tokyo 2020, before including the keeper in his squad for the Games in summer 2021. He remained on the bench in Japan, however, as Ochoa was brought into El Tri’s travelling party as an overage player. Although he did not play, Malagón returned home with a bronze medal.

When it comes to the senior Mexico team, meanwhile, former boss Gerardo Martino included Malagón on his preliminary list for the 2022 World Cup, but didn’t take him to Qatar. He remains uncapped at full international level.

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Malagón in action for Necaxa.Juan Luis Diaz

Óscar Jiménez

Jiménez participated in the Ascenso MX with CF Indios in 2009, before sitting on the bench as the club competed in the Mexican top flight. Four years later, he earned a starting spot at the elite level with Chiapas FC, making his debut in August 2013 against Querétaro.

He stayed with Chiapas until the Apertura 2016 tournament, playing in 75 games between the Liga MX and Copa MX. The 16 appearances he made in the Clausura 2016 was his highest number of games in a single campaign. In his time with Chiapas, he let in 123 goals and managed 13 clean sheets.

In the first half of 2017, he joined América, where he has been limited to a back-up role throughout. He was initially the understudy to Agustín Marchesín, before Ochoa came in as first choice. In total, Jiménez has played 29 times for Las Águiles, with a tally of 26 goals against and 11 shutouts.

Óscar Jiménez during an América game against Necaxa.

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Óscar Jiménez during an América game against Necaxa.Juan Luis Diaz

The choice for Ortiz: youth or experience?

América head coach Fernando ‘Tano’ Ortiz has a difficult decision to make. On the one hand, he has a goalkeeper who is young and inexperienced, but a future Mexico international. On the other hand, he has a veteran who has been waiting for an opportunity like this for years.

We’ll have to see who Ortiz opts for. América’s first game of the Clausura 2023 championship will be on Saturday 7 January at the Azteca, against Querétaro.

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