Cruz Azul’s first good chance came in the 17th minute, when Gerry Flores and Édgar Mendez combined on the right. The Spaniard sent a low ball back towards the top of the box for Francisco Silva, but he couldn’t get the power on his shot and Agustín Marchesín easily scooped up the ball.
La Máquina had another opportunity in the 23rd minute with a Felipe Mora header that Marchesín sent out for a corner kick.
Then, in the 29th minute, Mateus Uribe was given a straight red card for a hard foul on Julio César Domínguez, leaving América to see out the remaining hour with just 10 men.
Nevertheless, the Águilas pressed forward, and just minutes later Jesús Corona was called into action to make a double-save against first Guido Rodríguez and then Pablo Aguilar.
Then, in the 37th minute, the visitors won a penalty when Domínguez fouled Paul Aguilar in the box. Oribe Peralta stepped up to take the spot kick, but Corona made the save to keep the game goalless.
In the second half, Cruz Azul had more possession but did not look overly threatening with it, while América was organized in the back and awaited their own opportunities on the counter.
Set pieces were when La Máquina looked the most dangerous, and in the 76th minute Mora forced a good save out of Marchesín when he got his head to a corner kick.
Then, in the waning moments of the game, Cruz Azul had a dangerous-looking breakaway when Edson Álvarez brought down Martín Catueruccio, earning Álvarez his second yellow card of the night and leaving América with just nine men.
Despite the numerical advantage, Cruz Azul was unable to open the scoring, leaving everything to play for in the second leg.
With the 0-0 draw, Sunday’s second leg will be winner-takes-all. Should the two teams draw again, another 0-0 result would see América through as the higher seed while any draw with goals would advance Cruz Azul on the away goals tiebreaker.
Cruz Azul: José de Jesús Corona, Enzo Roca, Julio César Domínguez, Julián Velázquez, Gerardo Flores, Francisco Silva, Gabriel Peñalba, Rafael Baca (Ángel Mena 70′), Martín Rodríguez (Martín Cauteruccio 70′), Édgar Méndez, Felipe Mora.
América: Agustín Marchesín, Carlos Vargas, Edson Álvarez, Pablo Aguilar, Bruno Váldez, Paul Aguilar, Guido Rodríguez, Mateus Uribe, William da Silva (Alejandro Díaz 77′), Carlos Darwin Quintero (Gerson Torres 88′), Oribe Peralta (Pedro Arce 84′).