Credit: Jeremy Collins/EVT Sports
The Tijuana Xolos played their third game in the Liga MX 2023 Apertura season this Friday, July 14, against Cruz Azul at the Estadio Caliente. The Border City Dogs were able to get their first win of the season against a struggling Cruz Azul team in front of over 28 thousand fans.
Head Coach Miguel Herrera used the same exact lineup that he used against Necaxa in Week 2 of the tournament. Carlos Gonzalez featured as a lone striker, with Alejandro Martinez, Lucas Rodriguez, and Alexis Canelo playing alongside him in the attack. Lucas Cavallini and Eduardo Armenta were back after playing with their respective national teams, but both started the match on the bench.
The first half of the match was an even clash, where the Xoloitzcuintles had double the shots than Cruz Azul had, but the visiting team came away with a 1-0 lead from the first 45 minutes. The first big chance of the match came for Club Tijuana in the 32nd minute when a shot by Fernando Madrigal straight off a throw-in by Alexis Canelo was stopped by Cruz Azul keeper Andres Gudino.
The border city team had the best opportunities of the half in the first half hour or so of the clash, but then Cruz Azul had a few key scoring chances. In the 36th minute, a shot by Colombian midfielder Kevin Castano sailed over the net, then in the 44th minute, the first goal of the game came via a free kick by Ignacio Rivero.
The former Xolos player landed a perfectly located shot in the right side of the net, as Jose de Jesus Corona could not do anything to stop the shot. Rivero celebrated the goal with great enthusiasm despite having played several tournaments with the Aztec Canines.
The Xolos had one more scoring opportunity in stoppage time when a cross by Alejandro Martinez found Carlos Gonzalez inside of the penalty area. The header by Gonzalez was not the best, but Lucas Rodriguez found the ball after. However, goalkeeper Andres Gudino was there to take the ball.
The Border City Dogs were able to get back into the match in the second half, looking like the more dangerous team throughout it. Miguel Herrera made his first two substitutions of the match in the 56th minute, bringing on Braian Romero and Kevin Castaneda for Alejandro Martinez and Fernando Madrigal, then Tijuana’s first goal of the game immediately followed. Carlos Gonzalez released a very potent shot from range that found the back of Cruz Azul’s net and tied the match.
The Xolos kept on pushing for a second goal in the dying minutes of the clash, and eventually, their persistence paid off with a goal in stoppage time. Cruz Azul striker Diber Cambindo put the ball into his own net off a corner kick by Kevin Castaneda. The three points were vital for Club Tijuana, as it was of the utmost importance to get a win before the big break the Liga MX will take.
The Liga MX will now take a break, as Club Tijuana and the rest of the Mexican teams will play in the Leagues Cup for the rest of the month. The tournament is between Liga MX and MLS teams, and the Xoloitzcuintles will play their games at Subaru Park in Chester, PA, against the Philadelphia Union and Queretaro.
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.