America coach La Volpe steps down after string of losses

Football Soccer - Club America news conference - FIFA Club World Cup - Yokohama, Japan - 14/12/16. Club America's head coach Ricardo La Volpe attends the news conference ahead of FIFA Club World Cup Semi-Final match against Real Madrid. REUTERS/Issei Kato

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - America’s Argentine coach Ricardo La Volpe announced his departure on Sunday, a day after they failed to qualify for a chance to win the title in Mexico’s Clausura tournament.

La Volpe, who steered Mexico to CONCACAF Gold Cup victory in 2003, the last 16 at the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany and won the Liga MX title with Atlante in 1993, is renowned for the quality of the football played by his teams.

But on Saturday, the last day of the regular season, America lost 3-2 at home to Pachuca, marking their third defeat and forfeiting the chance to compete in the ‘Fiesta Grande’, where the top eight teams from the regular season square off.

“We did not reach a very important objective for an institution as big as America, which is to enter the post-season,” said La Volpe, a former goalkeeper who has spent most of his coaching career in Mexico.

La Volpe, nicknamed ‘Bigoton’ for his trademark big mustache, returned as America’s coach in September, 20 years after coaching Mexico’s most successful team with 12 titles.

They lost the 2016 Apertura final against Tigres UANL.

“I am grateful for having again led a team as big as America and because my players accepted me and they killed themselves on the field,” La Volpe said.

“There were positive things, but this institution and its fans want championships and that has to be respected,” he added.

Local media reported that Tijuana coach Miguel Herrera, nicknamed “el piojo” or “the louse,” will take La Volpe’s place when his spell with the “Xoloitzcuintles” finishes this month.

Reporting Carlos Calvo; Editing by Ken Ferris