Goalkeeper Antonio Rodriguez was one of the lone bright spots in Club Tijuana’s 1-0 loss to Leon this Saturday, Sept. 23.
The Mexican international had six saves in the match, five of which came inside of the penalty area, in a game that was entirely dominated by Leon.
Club Tijuana were coming off a 2-1 win against Toluca at home, but the attack was a shadow of what it was in that game at the Estadio Caliente. The Aztec Canines had just five total shots in the match and just one shot on target in the very uninspiring display against Los Panzas Verdes.
Miguel Herrera used the same starting 11 that he deployed against Toluca and brought on Domingo Blanco, Efrain Alvarez, Lucas Rodriguez, and Lucas Cavallini in the second half. It was all ineffective against a Leon team that controlled possession and the tempo of the game.
It was not a bad defensive display by Xolos, with solid performances by Nicolas Diaz, Kevin Balanta, and Francisco Contreras. The three combined for 11 clearances and nine interceptions in the match, along with the stellar performance by Antonio Rodriguez in net.
The lone goal for Leon came in the 63rd minute when Angel Mena was finally able to beat Rodriguez after several failed attempts by Los Esmeraldas. Youngster Sebastian Santos started the play, then Federico Vinas provided the assist for Mena, who had an easy finish inside of the penalty area.
Club Tijuana failed to respond to that goal with just one shot in the second half in what was a really lackluster offensive display. Consistency has been a critical issue for the Xoloitzcuintles, as the defensive effort given on the day should have been enough to rival most Liga MX teams. However, the attack lacked any creativity to stay competitive in the match against a very experienced Leon side.
Club Tijuana is still in a playoff position at the time of writing, currently in 10th place with 11 points after back-to-back wins before this loss. Domingo Blanco and East Los Angeles native Efrain Alvarez are slowly adapting to the Liga MX, and it will be interesting to see their role moving forward.
The Border City Dogs’ next match will be this Friday, Sept. 29, against FC Juarez at the Estadio Caliente in Tijuana.
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.