This Wednesday the Tijuana Xolos played their quarter-final Copa MX match against Pachuca away from home.
The game had importance to both clubs as both teams will not be in the Liga MX playoffs and the Copa MX was the only chance of silverware for the teams. This was interim manager Diego Torres’ second game in charge of Club Tijuana. His first game was successful as the Xolos achieved an impressive 2-1 win against Leon at home. A lot of the same players that played in that game featured in this match but the team looked very different performance wise.
Torres went with a 4-4-2 formation with Gibran Lajud in net and Matias Aguirregaray, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Emanuel Aguilera and Damian Perez making up the defense. The midfield consisted of Damian Musto and Alejandro Guido down the middle and Ignacio Malcorra and Juan Iturbe down the wings. The strike force was made up of two natural goalscorers in Gustavo Bou and Juan Martin Lucero.
It was surprising to see Gibran Lajud in net as Jose Antonio Rodriguez had been the goalkeeper that had been used in this Copa MX competition. Rodriguez had been the hero in the round of 16 match against Monarcas Morelia stopping two penalties in the penalty shootout. All 11 players in the starting lineup played against Leon and 10 of the 11 were in the starting XI, the only exception being Juan Martin Lucero. The lineup presented by Torres was a promising one as virtually the same team had achieved a very impressive result against Leon last Friday.
The game quickly got off to a horrid start as a penalty was called in Pachuca’s favor in the 14th minute of the match. Matias Aguirregaray pulled down striker Franco Jara inside the penalty area and Jara took the penalty perfectly to make it a 1-0 game after 15 minutes. Five minutes later, the Xolos received a golden opportunity to tie up the game with a penalty of their own. Unfortunately, Ignacio Malcorra’s attempt was saved by Alfonso Blanco keeping the score 1-0 in Pachuca’s favor.
Los Tuzos rode off the momentum of that save by their goalkeeper and score two more goals before halftime. First, in the 35th minute, a cross by Raul Lopez found Victor Guzman alone in the penalty area, Guzman headed the ball into the back of Gibran Lajud’s net to make it 2-0. Club Tijuana seemed depleted after that goal with a severe lack of creativity going forward and no grit in the defense. Pachuca’s Keisuke Honda took advantage of this and scored a goal in the 42nd minute that put the Xolos to shame. The Japanese international took the ball from midfield and as if he was Diego Maradona or Lionel Messi he single-handedly took on the entire Xolos’ midfield and backline and chipped the ball over Gibran Lajud. The game was all but over by halftime with the home team having a sizeable 3-0 lead after 45 minutes of play.
The Aztec Canines showed no ambition to come back from the deficit and displayed an uninspiring performance in the second half of the game. The humiliation continued as Victor Guzman scored his second of the game in the 65th minute to make it a 4-0 game. The Xoloitzcuintles looked lackadaisical on the pitch and just couldn’t generate any type of offense.
That stayed true right until the final minute of the game as Miller Bolaños missed a penalty to end the game and keep the score at 4-0. Bolaños’ attempt was sloppy and showed little effort really epitomizing the Xolos’ performance throughout the game. The performance had to be the worst display this season and really slated any chance of Diego Torres remaining as the manager for next season. The Xolos will need more than a miracle to make it into the Liga MX playoffs but will still try to finish strong against Toluca on Sunday Nov.19. After this display, who knows what to expect from that game but it should still prove to be a very entertaining match.