Today I made the trip to Chillogallo in the north of Quito to watch Aucas in action for the first time.
Although historically a first division team Aucas have tumbled down the leagues in recent years and now reside in the third tier or Segunda categoria.
Aucas or Sociedad Deportiva Aucas was formed in 1945 and named after the indigenous Auca tribe:who are also called Huaorani , from Ecuador’s Amazonian region. They were originally owned by the petroleum giant Royal Dutch Shell and as a result continue to play in Shell’s colours of red and yellow.
Historically, their rivals have been giants Liga de Quito from the south of Quito but in recent years their success has been at polar opposites. Aucas have never won the national championship but this does not dim the enthusiasm of the supporters who are recognised as one of the most passionate in Ecuador.
The likes of Augustin Delgado and Rene Higuita (who left after testing positive for cocaine) have previously played for the El idolo del pueblo (People’s Idol) and now Aucas have 3 of Ecuador’s most travelled player players: Wellington Sánchez, Gustavo Figueroa and Ivan Kaviedes in their squad.
Indeed much of the pre-match hype had concentrated on Ivan Kaviedes who had been arrested and jailed last week for drunk driving and assaulting a police officer. The director of Aucas defended his veteran striker by claiming that Kaviedes was the victim of police extortion or even robbery. Unfortunately in much of Latin America this is commonplace. Many might remember Kaviedes from the World Cup 2006 and his Spiderman mask celebration versus Costa Rica, many fewer will remember his brief period playing for Crystal Palace.
A bumper crowd of 8,000 half-filled the Estadio Chillogallo giving a loud and frenzied atmosphere, helped along by a couple of bands, many drums and more than a few rattles.
Today’s opponents would be Leon Carr from Pelileo, a small Andean city 150 km south of Quito. Judging from the amount of sponsors on their blue shirts and their lack of substitutes they were not the richest club in the world and did not have the resources of Aucas.
Aucas started the brighter and dominated the early play. With 6 minutes on the clock Aucas took the lead when Padilla crossed long for Juan Carlos Villacres to nod in from close range, then barely 30 seconds later veteran Gustavo Figeroa outran the defence to slip home Aucas’s second.
From then on it was dreadfully one sided as the Leon defence were ripped open at will and repeatedly left chasing the ball. Aucas were far sharper and were creating chance after chance with slick one-twos and neat passing with only the Leon goal-keeper, Christian Chagueza preventing it becoming a cricket score.
Much of the play was on the ground then fed out to the wings where upon the wide players would cross into the on-rushing attackers. Despite having an obvious height advantage the Leon defenders looked panic stricken with every cross and scrambled to clear the ball to safety.
When another Mercado knocked in a third Aucas goal the game was over as a competition before half-time approached.
There were several things that marked the gulf in class and ability between both teams but most strikingly were the veteran players. Although Figeroa and Sánchez are in the twilight of their careers they obviously have not lost their touch and ability to read the game. Sanchez was picking long passes and controlling the midfield while letting the younger players do the running and Figeroa was hanging outside the box like an old, opportunist fox. It was clear to even an untrained eye that these players were a class apart.
The second half brought no respite for Leon Carr as they were ruthlessly exposed and battered into submission. Juan Carlos Villacrés secured an impressive hat-trick in 51 and 62 minutes, (the second being an opportunist overhead kick). Jhon Tejada rattled a stunning free-kick from outside the box in between these to make it 5 before Moises Cuero rapped up the scoring with a late penalty to secure an emphatic 7 – 0.
The only thing left was a late red card for Leon Carr midfielder Carlos Vilacís who walked after nearly hospitalising an Aucas defender.
The result leaves Aucas in pole position for promotion but still leaves them far from Serie A and any possible games with Liga de Quito.
Aucas: Carlos Espinoza, Freddy Salazar, Santiago Mallitasig, Cesar Mercado, César Villacís, Edwin Méndez, Wellington Sánchez, Nixon Folleco, Jairo Padilla, Gustavo Figeroa and Juan Carlos Villacrés.
León Carr: Christian Chagueza, Fabricio Castillo, Darwin Núñez, Carlos Villacís, Hugo Manzano, Efrén Paredes, Miguel Sánchez, Jair Angulo, Óscar Freire, Jimmy Arroyo and Álex Tipantasig.
Despite the game being so lop-sided it was good to visit a different club in Quito and watch fans who obviously adore their club. The attendance was far more than what El Nacional or Deportivo Quito gets for a Sunday game and the “hinchas” created a vibrant atmosphere. Added to which small things like fans taking their bicycles and dogs into the stadium and vendors delivering your beer to your hands make the match day experience a little bit more special.