Tijuana Xolos fall 3-1 to Philadelphia Union in controversial fashion

Credit: Xolos

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Credit: Xolos

The Tijuana Xolos had a very sour start to their 2023 Leagues Cup campaign, losing 3-1 against the Philadelphia Union at Subaru Park in Chester, PA. Club Tijuana had never won an official match in the United States before this encounter and continued with that streak after this clash.

The game was off to a rapid start, with both teams testing each other, as Antonio Rodriguez and Andre Blake had to make some key saves to keep the match scoreless. However, the competitiveness was drained from the match in the 19th minute when Nicolas Diaz was given a direct red card, and a penalty was awarded to Philadelphia after a foul on Julian Carranza.

On the replay, it is not completely clear if the foul was actually inside of the box or if Carranza fell into the penalty area after the contact. The red card itself, regardless of a penalty or not, was also very controversial and left Xolos Head Coach Miguel Herrera fuming.

Daniel Gazdag took the penalty to perfection for the 1-0 lead for the MLS side, and Julian Carranza quickly made it a 2-0 game in the 26th minute. A cross by Kai Wagner found Carranza inside of the box after a deflection off of Alexis Canelo, and the Philadelphia striker was able to put away the opportunity with ease. The goal was initially called offside, but VAR awarded the goal to Philadelphia based on the deflection by Canelo.

After the 2-0 scoreline, the game remained vibrant, as both teams still had a few scoring opportunities. Andre Blake made stops to shots by Diego Barbosa and Carlos Gonzalez, while Antonio Rodriguez was able to stop Julian Carranza from scoring his second goal of the night in the 44th minute.

Both teams finished the first half with a combined 12 shots on target, albeit nine were from Philadelphia, but given the circumstances, Club Tijuana tried to stay in the match.

As the second half began, Carlos Gonzalez cut down Philadelphia’s lead to 2-1 with a goal from a shot inside of the penalty area off a cross by Francisco Contreras. Gonzalez scored his fourth goal in his first four games with Club Tijuana, remaining in excellent form.

In the 50th minute, the Xoloitzcuintles were awarded a penalty after Alexis Canelo was knocked down inside of the box by Olivier Mbaizo. Carlos Gonzalez stepped up to take the penalty but failed on the golden opportunity to tie the match, as Andre Blake was able to read him like a book and maintain the 2-1 scoreline.

The other major controversy came in the 56th minute of the match when Kevin Balanta was given a direct red card after an alleged foul on Mikael Uhre. Balanta was given the red card, despite making contact with the ball first, which under the rule book should not be a red card. Club Tijuana was now down to nine men on the pitch, with every single possible detail going wrong in this match for them.

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To make matters worse, goalkeeper Antonio Rodriguez was subbed out for Jesus Corona due to an injury in the 68th minute of the match. This was Rodriguez’s first game back after representing Mexico in the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and after Miguel Herrera stated that he was Tijuana’s No. 1 goalkeeper.

Julian Carranza put the nail in the coffin with Philadelphia’s third goal and his second goal of the night in the 71st minute. After that goal, the Aztec Canines were completely out of the match, with the two-goal deficit and down two men. Philadelphia dominated the second half of the game with 66 percent possession and eight shots on target to Tijuana’s two.

Miguel Herrera spoke his mind on officiating the game in the post-match press conference. “I am proud to see how the team behaved with the adversity, but I am very annoyed with how the result came about,” Miguel Herrera said. “Piojo” also said he will ask Club Tijuana’s front office to appeal the red cards given to Nicolas Diaz and Kevin Balanta.

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