Tijuana Xolos extend winless streak to 14 games after heartbreaking 2-2 draw vs. Santos Laguna

Credit: Jeremy Collins/ EVT Sports

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Credit: Jeremy Collins/ EVT Sports

The Tijuana Xolos played their 12th game of the Liga MX 2024 Clausura season this Friday, March 15, against Santos Laguna at the Estadio Caliente. Club Tijuana was in dire need of a win from this match, and it seemed likely up until the final moments of the game that completely changed the mood at the Mictlan.

Miguel Herrera made several changes to his lineup that was used against Pumas UNAM last Sunday, with Aaron Mejia, Domingo Blanco, and Fernando Madrigal coming in for Francisco Contreras, Rafael Fernandez, and Jose Zuniga. Nicolas Diaz was still out for this game after suffering a muscular injury in the match against Leon on March 3.

This was a golden opportunity for the Border City Dogs to come away with the first win of the season, as Santos Laguna was fielding a very inexperienced squad, currently dealing with several injuries.

Club Tijuana was clearly the better side in the opening 45 minutes of play, but Santos Laguna came away with a 1-0 lead after the first half. Aldo Lopez scored in the 29th minute via a header inside of the penalty area off a headed assist after a throw-in. The marking on the play by Club Tijuana was very poor, and it was surprising to see the ball find the back of the net during that play. The first half ended 1-0, with the Xoloitzcuintles having 19 shots in the initial 45 minutes, the clearest scoring opportunity coming in the 39th minute when Christian Rivera struck the ball way over the crossbar in front of net.

Miguel Herrera made some adjustments to start the second half, with Lucas Rodriguez and Jose Zuniga replacing Fernando Madrigal and Joe Corona. Carlos Gonzalez scored the tying goal of the match in the 51st minute via a header off a corner by Efrain Alvarez. Santos’ goalkeeper, Carlos Acevedo, played a role in the goal, as he failed to handle the ball completely.

Club Tijuana scored again in the 70th minute of the game. A penalty was awarded to the border city team, and Christian Rivera scored from the spot for the 2-1 lead. It was Rivera’s fifth goal from the penalty spot in the last three games, as he has been the top goalscorer for the Xoloitzcuintles this season.

Miguel Herrera really had to improvise by the end of the game, as both Alejandro Gomez and Kevin Balanta had minor injuries and needed to be subbed out in the 87th minute. Rodrigo Godinez and Christian Rivera were in the center-back slots by the end of the match, which was far from ideal with such a slim lead. The referee added eight minutes of stoppage time, and the tying goal for Santos Laguna seemed almost inevitable, given the circumstances.

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That tying goal came in the 94th minute when a cross by debutante Emilio Santillan found Ronaldo Prieto inside of the penalty box, and he went on to strike the ball in the back of the net. The goal was a heartbreaking blow for the Border City Dogs, as this meant that the winless streak for the border city side was now extended to 14 games.

The Estadio Caliente exploded in boos and jeers by the final whistle, with fans also confronting and yelling at manager Miguel Herrera. The fan base is clearly not happy with the Xoloitzcuintles’ current form, and Miguel Herrera recognized the fans at the post-game press conference. “I cannot say anything to the fans; they are absolutely right,” Herrera said.

“Piojo” also expressed his frustration after the game, “We missed two headers in front of net, it is not like I can go and head the ball in.” There is plenty of tension at Club Tijuana due to the disastrous form of the team, and it is very unclear if the front office will continue its patience with Miguel Herrera. Club Tijuana will play Mazatlan away from home on March 29 before returning home to face Necaxa on April 5.

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