The Tijuana Xolos had a dreadful start to the Liga MX Apertura 2017, falling 2-0 against Cruz Azul at home this Friday, July 21.
The home crowd at the Estadio Caliente was hopeful of a solid beginning to the Apertura 2017, but instead witnessed one of the worst performances Club Tijuana has had at the Estadio Caliente.
Here is the good, the bad, and the ugly from the disappointing season opener.
The Good – Matias Aguriregaray
It was easy to find a million things that went wrong in the game for the border city side, but there were very few bright spots throughout the encounter. Unless you saw the entire 90 minutes closely, it was difficult to appreciate the effort made by Uruguayan right-back, Matias Aguirregaray. The fresh signing brought in from Argentina played the intense, dynamic, and offensive style that Eduardo Coudet had promised, but was one of the only players on the pitch that did so.
The South American defender was very aggressive in his interceptions and in going forward, offering versatility in his position. Aguirregaray showed his speed and physical presence is at a very high level and are on par with each other, ideal for the full-back slot. The former Argentine league player also switched positions with the likes of Mauricio Cuero and Damian Musto at times to go more up field and chase whoever had the ball on the opposing team. The 28-year-old proved to be the most impressive player on the pitch for the Aztec Canines and he should be an influential player for weeks to come.
The Bad – Gibran Lajud
Lajud’s miscue that allowed the first goal was ugly, but it was not the worst thing seen on the pitch on Friday night. The goal arguably changed the flow of the game and was a silly error from a goalkeeper of the caliber of Gibran Lajud. Last season, the Mexican goalkeeper had some silly mistakes, but he always made up for it with amazing saves as well.
At one point, Lajud could have lost his job because of these miscues, but it was not likely with 37-year-old Luis Michel as his backup on the bench. This season, Michel is still on the team, but he is no longer on the bench. Eduardo Coudet brought in the 25-year-old Jose Antonio Rodriguez to fight for a starting role. Rodriguez has been a backup for most of his career, but has shown signs of greatness before, most notably in Copa MX games, and could end up replacing Lajud if these inexcusable errors continue to be a problem.
The Ugly – Xolos’ Midfield
The only thing worse than that embarrassing error by Gibran Lajud on Friday night was the lackluster display by the Xolos’ midfield. The core of the team seemed nonchalant and did not create anything that the forwards could use. The only player that showed slight signs of talent in the midfield in the season opener was Ignacio Malcorra, who delivered some dangerous crosses and decent passes as well.
Apart from him, Mauricio Cuero, Alejandro Guido, and Damian Musto all had woeful displays. Cuero did not generate anything during the encounter and only had 12 total passes in the 61 minutes that he played in. The Colombian winger showed his tremendous speed in some instances, but also showed his lack of dribbling and passing ability, making several questionable passes and not being able to do anything against Cruz Azul’s back line. Alejandro Guido was completely lost in the game and did not seem to know what his role was. At times, the Chula Vista native was playing even more back than Damian Musto and did not make much effort to try to generate anything going forward. This was not the same Alejandro Guido that was seen in the preseason, and hopefully he can get it together in weeks to come.
Finally, fresh signing Damian Musto was trying to be Guido Rodriguez, even sporting the number five on the back of his jersey, but did not come close to filling the role. The Argentine just seemed to be stationary in his position, unlike Guido Rodriguez, and clearly does not have the same passing ability as the former Xolos’ player. Something promising seen by Musto was that he tried to be a leader out on the field like Rodriguez once was at the Estadio Caliente. These players do have immense potential, but it is unclear if they will be able to develop it in this Apertura 2017 competition. The key to success is a rigid midfield for most teams, and the Xolos’ must improve in that aspect for weeks to come to succeed in this new season.