Game: Tijuana Xolos vs Monterrey
When: Friday, August 4, 2017
Where: Estadio Caliente
Time: 7:00 P.M. PST
TV: Univision Deportes
The Tijuana Xolos finally won and scored a goal in this new era under Eduardo “El Chacho” Coudet. The border city side is coming off a slim 1-0 win against Puebla in Club Tijuana’s first game in the Apertura 2017 edition of the Copa MX. But now Coudet’s men will face a menacing rival, Monterrey, in week 3 of Liga MX play. This will be Tijuana’s toughest opponent under Coudet so far and an exciting encounter is expected at the Estadio Caliente this Friday night.
The Xolos looked the best that they have under Eduardo Coudet in the midweek Copa MX 1-0 win against Puebla. There were still some very clear flaws with the team going forward and in the midfield but the defense was very rigid and Jose Antonio Rodriguez also had a phenomenal performance in net. Tijuana earned the three points from the game with a hard-fought victory against a fragile opponent in front of a sold-out crowd at the Estadio Caliente. This time around the Aztec Canines will not be facing a “fragile” opponent, the Prehistoric Dogs will be facing a powerhouse, Monterrey, but will still count with the home-field advantage at the Estadio Caliente. Home-field advantage has proven to be key in Tijuana’s success in the past including in the Clausura 2017 matchup against Monterrey, where the Xolos achieved an impressive 2-0 win. The manager of Los Rayados Antonio Mohamed complained about the conditions of the synthetic turf at the Estadio Caliente in the post game press conference of that encounter. The Xolos displayed a dominant display in that spectacular victory but are unlikely to achieve that type of result this Friday.
The border city side is still a struggling team with several flaws that are looking to adjust to the new man at the helm and other conditions. There were snippets of the “dynamic, intense, offensive” style that Coudet had promised before the season started in the game against Puebla in the Copa MX. It is unclear if that style will continue to be seen and that should ultimately be a huge deciding factor in this match. If the Xolos play like they did against Cruz Azul and Necaxa there will be no chance of taking the three points from Antonio Mohamed. If they play like they did against Puebla there is still a slim chance that Club Tijuana will walk away from the game with a win. This team must have a massive improvement in structure and play style to get the victory on Friday night, perhaps switching up the initial starting formation to a 4-3-3 and starting Paul Arriola or making other adjustments to the starting 11 can make a world of difference. This will be Eduardo Coudet’s toughest task yet and if Club Tijuana do lose then the speculation of an early exit for the Argentine manager will pick up more heat.
Monterrey was one of the best teams in the Clausura 2017, finishing in second place just behind Club Tijuana in first. Antonio Mohamed already had one of the best teams in Mexico and strengthened it, even more, this offseason with the addition of Aviles Hurtado from the Xolos. The Colombian was not only arguably the best player on the Xolos last season but also one of the better players in the Liga MX as well. The firepower Monterrey has on this team going forward is menacing and should strike fear against any opposition. The defense does have some flaws and will have to be without club captain Jose Maria Basanta for this match because of a red card in Monterrey’s 1-0 win against Veracruz last week. Los Regios are off to an undefeated start to the Apertura 2017 with a 0-0 draw against Morelia and a 1-0 win against Veracruz. Monterrey has the talent to win a title this season but its biggest foe is themselves as the potent forwards on the team can be blinded by selfishness, miss key opportunities and be inconsistent in front of net. A team with star players must have its flaws but still has an intellectual manager with a rigid structure that knows how to win games. This game should still be a respectable task for Antonio Mohamed’s team, especially playing away from home but Monterrey does have the advantage heading into the encounter.
Players to Watch
With his performance on Tuesday night against Puebla in the Copa MX, Paul Arriola has already proven to be one of the more impressive players on this Xolos’ squad. The Chula Vista native had a respectable performance with the United States national team at the 2017 Gold Cup and managed to score a goal in his first competitive game under Eduardo Coudet. The 22-year-old can play that “dynamic, intense, offensive” style that Eduardo Coudet wants to bring out of this team and should be in the starting 11 this Friday night. The explosiveness and nonstop attitude of the American can prove to be a key factor in the game and help the border city going forward and in other aspects of the game.
Shortly after departing Club Tijuana, Aviles Hurtado will be back on the synthetic turf of the border city fortress. The Colombian had at least one play in nearly every game for the Xolos last season that left the fans in amazement and wonder. Hurtado pharaoncasinos scored the best goal seen in the Liga MX last season with that unbelievable bicycle kick against Atlas in week 12 of the Clausura 2017. Hurtado has immense speed, flair and dribbling abilities that make him one of the trickiest players to mark in the Liga MX. The 30-year-old seems destined to score in this game against a Xolos’ team that currently does not have a proper structure or identity. Hurtado is always one of the more exciting players to watch in a Liga MX match and should be one of the key players in this encounter.
Monterrey is the toughest opponent that the Xolos will face in this era under Eduardo Coudet, so far. This game may not be the prettiest for the home side with the recent underwhelming performances by the border city side. Eduardo Coudet must lead his Xoloitzcuintles to a smart game against Antonio Mohamed or suffer his third consecutive loss in the Liga MX. The game should still be a very exciting affair with both teams having the potential to perform magnificently at a top-level in Mexico. The prediction is a 2-1 loss for the Xolos, even coming from that 1-0 win against Puebla. The Copa MX win was not overly impressive against a much weaker opponent and the fire power on Monterrey should be too much for the Aztec Canines to handle. Eduardo Coudet may have to wait another week for his first win in the Liga MX but the 180-minute goal drought for the Xolos in the Liga MX may end in this game. Club Tijuana must take small steps in this transitional phase and a solid performance in this game despite the score may be a tremendous step in the right direction. A win, of course, will be monumental but it is unlikely given the circumstances.