The Tijuana Xolos played their ninth game of the Liga MX 2023 Apertura season this Friday, September 29, at the Estadio Caliente.
Miguel Herrera made some changes to his starting 11 that was used last match against Leon, as Lucas Rodriguez and Rafael Fernandez came into the lineup for Francisco Contreras and Kevin Castaneda. The first half of the encounter was a vibrant one with plenty of scoring opportunities for both sides.
The visiting side came up with the first goal of the night in the 18th minute of play when Montenegro native Andrija Vukcevic scored from a shot inside of the penalty area after a rebound off a header by Jose Garcia. Xolos’ goalkeeper Antonio Rodriguez stopped the header by Garcia, but the ball went directly to Vukcevic’s feet for the 1-0 scoreline.
Juarez kept on attacking after the goal, almost scoring in the 21st minute with a shot that hit the crossbar by Aitor Garcia. Rafael Fernandez was being badly beat out on the left flank by Diego Valoyes, and Miguel Herrera made the necessary adjustment by taking him out and bringing on Francisco Contreras in the 29th minute. This move greatly benefited Club Tijuana, adding more speed down the left flank.
At the end of the first half, Alejandro Martinez had a scoring opportunity one-on-one against the goalkeeper, but Juarez defender Luis Rodriguez came up with an outstanding tackle to send the ball out of bounds. Rodriguez went from hero to villain for his team, as he was called on a handball inside of the penalty area following a corner kick.
Carlos Gonzalez stepped up to take the penalty and executed it with perfection to tie the game 1-1 before the end of the first 45 minutes.
Miguel Herrera made another key adjustment at the end of the first half when he replaced Eduardo Armenta with Lucas Cavallini. The Canadian striker helped generate more offense for the Border City Dogs and also helped on the physical side of the match, as it was a very hard-fought match.
The Xoloitzcuintles were the only team competing in the second half, then the second goal of the night for Club Tijuana struck in the 54th minute. A missed pass by Juarez’ Aviles Hurtado landed directly to Alejandro Martinez, who took possession and ran down the left flank before releasing a powerful strike that found the back of the net.
Tijuana’s explosion of offense was far from over, as Miguel Herrera’s men went on to score three more goals in the half. Carlos Gonzalez scored his second goal of the night in the 55th minute with an incredible strike from outside of the box that somehow weaved its way into the back of the net. Lucas Cavallini made it a 4-1 game in the 60th minute, scoring his first goal since March 17. Carlos Gonzalez provided the assist on the play via a header, which gave the ball to the Canadian striker inside of the penalty area.
The final goal of the night came from one of the best players on the night, Fernando Madrigal, who scored with a shot after Moises Mosquera gave the ball right to him off a headed clearance. The night was unfortunately not all cheers and praise at the Mictlan, as Carlos Gonzalez received a red card in the 77th minute of the match. The Paraguayan striker kicked an FC Juarez player in the head and received the expulsion after a fantastic display.
The game ended 5-1 in Club Tijuana’s favor in what was a very dominant display by the Prehistoric Canines. Xolos had six shots on target to Juarez’s zero in the second half of the game. This Was Club Tijuana’s biggest win a very long time, and the Aztec Canines were able to continue a now four-game undefeated streak at home.
Club Tijuana will now have two consecutive tough away games against Santos Laguna and Monterrey and will have to play the game against Santos without Carlos Gonzalez, who is now the joint-top goalscorer in Liga MX with seven goals scored.
Other than the standout performance by Gonzalez, other key players in the game were Fernando Madrigal and Nicolas Diaz, who put in a monstrous defensive effort.
This was by far the best performance of Club Tijuana’s season, and it came at the best possible time, with the team’s recent performances.
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.