The Tijuana Xolos played their 11th game in the Liga MX Apertura 2017 this Friday, Sept. 30.
Unlike most Friday nights for the Xolos, it was not at the Estadio Caliente, but instead at the Estadio Morelos in Michoacán, Morelia. The Aztec Canines were facing Monarcas Morelia, a team that had only lost one game at home heading into this encounter.
Eduardo Coudet went with his usual 5-3-2 formation with Gibran Lajud in between the sticks. The defense was made up of Matias Aguirregaray, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Alejandro Donatti, Emanuel Aguilera, and Damian Perez. The midfield trio consisted of Joe Corona, Damian Musto, and the free-roaming Ignacio Malcorra. The front two included the speedy Juan Manuel Iturbe and the clinical Gustavo Bou. The lineup was a formidable one for Eduardo Coudet, the only questionable decision was leaving Enzo Kalinski out of the starting 11. Of course, with the 9/9 rule that only allows nine foreign players on Liga MX gameday rosters, Coudet had to leave out someone like Miller Bolanos or Juan Manuel Iturbe. The other foreigners have pretty much secured a spot in the starting 11 for “Chacho”, but perhaps leaving out one of the two would have been the more beneficial option as neither made a significant positive impact on the game.
It only took three minutes for a decision made by the referee Erick Yair Miranda to impact the rest of the game. Miranda gave a yellow card to Emanuel Aguilera after a push on Morelia’s Raul Ruidiaz. The card was a bit harsh given the early stages of the game and the quality of the foul. That yellow card created a ripple effect as Aguilera received a second yellow in the 15th minute of the game that was deserved. This left the Argentine out of the game and left Coudet’s Xolos vulnerable. Monaracas Morelia responded almost immediately with a goal in the 18th minute of the game. Sloppy marking by Matias Aguirregaray and the dismantled back line let Carlos Guzman provide a brilliant pass that found Diego Valdes. The Chilean midfielder was left open and calmly put the ball in the back of Gibran Lajud’s net.
After being a man down, the Xolos did not look too bad, there were a few chances created throughout the first half. The clearest of the half, and maybe the game, came in the 32nd minute of the match, where Gustavo Bou was denied a goal on a one-on-one by Morelia’s goalkeeper Sebastian Sosa. The most disappointing and ineffective players after the first 45 minutes were Joe Corona and Juan Manuel Iturbe. Corona lacked proper distribution and also did not do much to help Damian Musto in recovering the ball. Iturbe also did not help out his strike partner Gustavo Bou much and lacked proper positioning to take advantage of scoring opportunities.
Eduardo Coudet clearly noticed the lack of play by these two players and subbed both out at the half. Luis Angel Mendoza replaced Juan Manuel Iturbe while Chula Vista native Alejandro Guido replaced Joe Corona in the midfield. Neither made much of an impact on the complicated situation of being a man down. Alejandro Guido did do solid work in the midfield, with three out of six duels won and an 88-percent pass accuracy. Another fatal tactical error by Eduardo Coudet came in the 70th minute of the game, where “Chacho” replaced Matias Aguirregaray with Miller Bolanos. This pushed Juan Carlos Valenzuela to the right-back position, Damian Musto to the centre-back position, and Igancio Malcorra to the middle of the pitch. Perhaps the better option would have been to sub Bolanos for Valenzuela and leave Aguirregaray in his right-back slot. Valenzuela clearly doesn’t have the attributes to play as a fullback and he showed that in the game. “Topo” could not keep up with Morelia’s Rodolfo Vilchis, who had much more pace than him. In the 76th minute, Vilchis burst past Valenzuela on the wing and found space for a shot inside of the box.
That was the finishing blow in the game, but La Monarquia did not stop there and went for the overkill against Club Tijuana. In the 82nd minute, an outside of the box shot by Mario Osuna was deflected by Gibran Lajud. Unfortunately, this found Diego Valdes, who put away his second goal of the game to put away the team that was pursuing him during the offseason. Gibran Lajud had an excellent game right down to the final minute, with 10 saves throughout the encounter. The Mexican goalkeeper pulled off a double-save in compensation time, preventing Club Tijuana from suffering further embarrassment. The game overall was one of the worst for the Xolos this season, but the decision made by Erick Yair Miranda in the third minute of the game did make a significant impact on the game. Despite the poor officiating, the border city side still had a very poor performance from its midfield and its inconsistent attack. The defending was also very sloppy throughout the 90 minutes and left the team vulnerable to Monarcas Morelia. There will be an international break and the Xolos won’t play until Friday, Oct.13 at the Estadio Caliente against Veracruz.
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.