The Tijuana Xolos played their first game of the Liga MX 2024 Clausura season this Saturday, January 13, against Club America at the Estadio Caliente. Club Tijuana were the favorites heading into the match with the massive home-field advantage and with Club America leaving most of it starters in Mexico City.
Club America are the current Liga MX champions and had a shortened preseason, consequently, most of the consistent starters like Julian Quinones, Henry Martin, Alvaro Fidalgo and Diego Valdes were not available. Club America started some key players like goalkeeper Luis Angel Malagon, new signing Cristian Calderon and centre-back Israel Reyes. There were some youth players in America’s starting 11, like Roman Martinez, Sebastian Martinez, and Santiago Naveda.
Miguel Herrera used a starting 11 that was pretty consistent from last season with Antonio Rodriguez in net. A backline of four consisting of Francisco Contreras, Nicolas Diaz, Kevin Balanta and Diego Barbosa. The midfield featured Christian Rivera, Fernando Madrigal and Kevin Castaneda down the middle and Alejandro Martinez and LucasRodriguez on the wings. Carlos Gonzalez was the lone striker for Club Tijuana, as he had been throughout most of last season.
The atmosphere was vibrant at the Estadio Caliente, which housed over 31 thousand fans for this match. Several fans made their way from California across the border and even from neighboring states, specifically to see Club America. There was a healthy amount of both fan bases at the Mictlan, with the majority clearly being fans of the current Liga MX Champions.
The first half of the match was unfortunately very lackluster, with the Border City Dogs having the best scoring opportunity of the half in the 12th minute, via an outside of the box shot by Kevin Castaneda. The shot went just wide, as the first half ended scoreless in a match that did not offer much excitement.
The match seemed destined to end in a scoreless deadlock, but in the 89th minute, Salvador Reyes was able to score a goal that seemed to have come from virtually nowhere. Reyes struck the sphere from outside of the box and was able to get past Antonio Rodriguez to make it a 1-0 game. Eight minutes were added to the match, and Reyes struck again in the 94th minute, as he capitalized on a crucial error by Eduardo Armenta, who gave the ball to Reyes inside of the penalty area. The Mexican midfielder was able to easily score after receiving the ball to put an end to any comeback that seemed almost impossible, even when it was 1-0.
The defeat was a highly disappointing one, considering the team Club America fielded. Luis Angel Malagon was a key factor in this match, as he ended the match with eight saves, including four saves from inside of the penalty area.
Miguel Herrera did not seem too concerned after the defeat, as he said, “The loss does not make me think that the team is in a bad spot.” However, as mentioned before, there is cause for concern after losing to a rather inexperienced squad, especially in the attack.
Club Tijuana will play their first away game on January 20, against Atlas in Guadalajara, before coming back to the Estadio Caliente to face Chivas on January 26.
Francisco, 26, Chula Vista/Tijuana. I have been a Padres fan all my life, did most of the series previews and recaps in the Padres’ 2016 season for EVT. Now I focus more on the local soccer scene. Tijuana Xolos, San Diego Loyal, San Diego Wave.