The Tijuana Xolos played their 15th match in the Liga MX 2023 Clausura season this Friday, April 14, against Mazatlan FC.
The match was a very important one for both teams as both are trying to avoid paying a significant fine by the end of the season due to placement on the relegation table. Club Tijuana was also seeking the three points from this match for a possible playoff push from the last few games of the season.
The Xoloitzcuintles came away with a 2-1 win in the port city, but it was not a pretty match between the worst away (Xolos) and home (Mazatlan) teams of the season. Miguel Herrera has not kept a consistent starting 11 all season, and Friday night was not the exception as he made the surprising decision to leave team captain Lisandro Lopez out of the starting lineup.
The Border City Dogs had a fantastic start in the game as Alexis Canelo was awarded a penalty after being tackled inside of the penalty area. Canelo converted the penalty to give the Aztec Canines a valuable 1-0 lead in the 14th minute of the match.
Mazatlan did not stay quiet as Antonio Rodriguez was able to provide a diving save off a potent shot by Andres Montano in the 23rd minute. However, the home team did tie the game a minute later as Jair Diaz put the ball into his own net off a free kick by Montano. Montano was awarded the goal as the ball was already heading into the back of the net without the contact by Diaz.
The last big chance of the first half came in the 29th minute when Lucas Cavallini was denied a goal from a save by Mazatlan goalkeeper Ricardo Gutierrez. the first half ended 1-1 in what looked to be a match with plenty of potential, given the circumstances of the game.
Both teams needed to be hungry for the three points in the second half, but the opposite happened as it seemed that both teams were more worried about making a mistake rather than taking the necessary risks to get the win. By the 75th minute of the game, there were no shots on target for either team in the second half, but finally, a spark came for Club Tijuana.
In the 76th minute, a shot by Fernando Valenzuela hopped and hit the post as it was centimeters from ending in the back of the net. However, an even more important play came to fruition just after that shot as Lucas Rodriguez sent a horribly-located shot sailing into the stands. Omar Moreno appeared to have grazed the ball with his hand, and the play went under review, and a penalty was given by Cesar Arturo Ramos for Club Tijuana.
Lisandro Lopez, who is the Xolos designated penalty taker, was in the game by this time, but Alexis Canelo took his second penalty of the night against Ricardo Gutierrez and once again defeated the young goalkeeper to give the border city team a 2-1 lead.
— Xolos (@Xolos) April 15, 2023
Desperation clearly sunk in for Mazatlan as the home team finally started attacking after Club Tijuana’s goal. In the 87th minute, a shot by Nestor Vidrio was saved by Antonio Rodriguez, and a minute later, the Xolos goalkeeper had another save off a header.
The Xoloitzcuintles final punt in the match came in added time as Braian Romero sent Alexis Canelo a perfect cross. Still, the Argentine forward was denied by Ricardo Gutierrez, who made a tremendous save inside of the penalty box. The game ended 2-1 in Club Tijuana’s favor as two penalties gave the Aztec Canines the three points from the game in what was a very valuable three points away from home.
The second penalty of the day was very controversial, as it does seem that the ball grazed Omar Moreno’s leg before touching his hand. The game was not a pretty one, as there was a lackluster void of not much action in the second half, but the three points is all that matters to Miguel Herrera and company.
Club Tijuana is now in 13th place and currently holds a playoff spot due to the fact that Queretaro is in 11th place but is not allowed to compete in the playoffs. The Xolos only have two games left in the 2023 Clausura regular season as the Prehistoric Dogs host Leon at the Estadio Caliente on April 21 for their next and final home game of the regular season.
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.