The Tijuana Xolos played their 13th game in the Liga MX Apertura 2017 on Tuesday, Oct.17, against Lobos BUAP in Puebla.
The game was part of the tenth round of matches in the Apertura that was postponed due to the horrendous Earthquake that heavily impacted Mexico City and surrounding areas. Club Tijuana had come off a disappointing scoreless draw against Veracruz and was in uninspired form, having not won in four games and only scoring a goal in this span. The border city side started a three-game Liga MX road trip before this game and desperately needed the three points to get back on track.
Eduardo Coudet seemed to have learned his lesson in the last game against Veracruz and switched back to the 5-3-2 formation. There were quite a few interesting modifications with the lineup as some players who had not been featured for some time, played in the game. Gibran Lajud was in net with Juan Carlos Nunez, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Alejandro Donatti, Emanuel Aguilera, and Damian Perez making up the back five. The midfield consisted of Alejandro Guido, filling in for the suspended Damian Musto, as a defensive midfielder, and Luis Chavez and Ignacio Malcorra playing alongside him. Joe Corona had not been impressive in recent games, and that perhaps influenced the decision to start the youngster Luis Chavez in his place. Finally, the strike force was made up of Miller Bolanos playing with the Argentine Gustavo Bou. There were some worries with the starting XI, such as the lack of a defensive-minded midfielder, but this formation and selection of players seemed to work in the game.
From the kickoff, there were already strange sights at the Estadio Universitario BUAP. The kickoff was set for 5:00 P.M. PST, 7:00 P.M. in Puebla, and the stadium lights were not lit. The game was played eight minutes until this became a problem and referee Marco Antonio Ortiz Nava temporarily suspended the game until the lights were turned on. The Xolos wasted no time in these initial eight minutes as a cross by Ignacio Malcorra found Gustavo Bou’s head for the first goal of the match in the second minute of the encounter. The problem seemed simple… just turn on the lights. But this took nearly an hour to solve as fans and members of both teams seemed to be filled with frustration.
The game finally resumed after a 57-minute delay and the excitement continued with both teams upbeat style of play. While the lighting was an issue, something that was not faulty was the sound system at the BUAP stadium. The speakers at the stadium seemed to burst out a wolf howl about every half-minute that many people took notice of on Twitter. In the 37th minute, the lead grew for the Aztec Canines as Gustavo Bou got past two of Lobos’ defenders and provided a beautiful pass to Miller Bolanos, who just had to tap the ball in for the second goal of the game for Coudet’s men. The excitement and competitiveness grew in the final minutes of the game as the home team pressed Los Xoloitzcuintles and did eventually get a goal out of it. That goal fell in the 43rd minute, a header by veteran striker Amaury Escoto, who had a few opportunities prior to that goal and proved to be Rafael Puente’s most dangerous man.
Club Tijuana did a spectacular job of maintaining the lead in the second half and came home with the three points from the game. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that many fans even stayed to watch the second half as it was displayed on a very small screen because Univision Deportes decided to give priority to the Pumas UNAM vs Leon game. This all goes down to the huge delay that was seen in the first half as this caused the games to intersect. Eduardo Coudet did make some alterations, giving some minutes to Joe Corona, Michael Orozco, and Juan Manuel Iturbe.
None of the players that came in made much of a deep impact on the game. It is particularly worrying how Juan Manuel Iturbe has yet to find the back of the net after seven games in the Liga MX. Still, the attacking players that are getting the regular minutes, like Gustavo Bou and Miller Bolanos, are performing and making an impact on the team. This game proved that the 5-3-2 formation is the way to go for this Xolos’ team as the team can defend effectively and at the same time generate many more scoring opportunities. The three points launch Club Tijuana to 18 points and ninth place on the Liga MX table at the time of writing this article. The border city side will now travel to Guadalajara to face Atlas at the historic Estadio Jalisco this Friday, Oct.20.
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.