It was a beautiful warm day in the border city of Tijuana but despite the weather, the Xolos were trying to cast away the dark cloud that has surrounded the team in the beginning of this new era under Eduardo Coudet.
The Xoloitzcuintles had begun the Apertura 2017 with a 2-0 loss against Cruz Azul and followed that up with a 1-0 loss against Necaxa. Eduardo Coudet was facing his most challenging task as the manager of the border city side, Monterrey. The only slight advantage that the Xolos were relying on heading into this game was the home-field advantage that betrayed the team after the 90 minutes against Monterrey had ended.
Eduardo Coudet opted for his trusty 4-4-2 formation that had proven to be ineffective in the past but Coudet stuck for what he thought was quintessential. Gibran Lajud was in net, Matias Aguirregaray, Michael Orozco, Juan Carlos Valenzuela and Damian Perez made up the back line. The midfield consisted of Joe Corona and Damian Musto in the middle and Paul Arriola and Ignacio Malcorra on the wings. The strike partnership was Gustavo Bou and Henry Martin. There were some obvious question marks in the starting 11 like Gibran Lajud and Henry Martin. Antonio Rodriguez had earned his spot in net during the midweek Copa MX game against Puebla, while Henry Martin had been poor and undeserving of a starting role. Gibran Lajud proved to be one of the better players on the pitch, oddly enough but that still resulted in a 3-0 defeat for the Xolos.
The first 45 minutes were very promising for Club Tijuana, there were some positive signs that the team was finally adopting the “dynamic, intense, offensive” style Eduardo Coudet had been looking for. For most of the half, Club Tijuana was almost playing a 2-6-2 formation because the full-backs pressed so far up the pitch. There were some decent opportunities for the Xolos, but most were wasted. Monterrey also had plenty of chances wasted, but did come away with the 1-0 advantage after the 45 minutes. An old hero for Club Tijuana Aviles Hurtado resulted to be the villain at the Estadio Caliente, putting Monterrey up 1-0 in the 34th minute. The first goal of the night for the Colombian forward was spectacular, a shot from the line of the penalty box that landed in the top left corner of Gibran Lajud’s net. The score could have been much more in favor for Monterrey if it had not been for Gibran Lajud who pulled off some astonishing saves to keep the score where it was.
There were mixed emotions around the Estadio Caliente when the second half started, the team had looked the best it had under Eduardo Coudet but unfortunately, that was not saying much. Six minutes into the second half, Aviles Hurtado put an end to any hope that the Xolos had of getting any points from the encounter. The same man who had filled Xolos’ fans with wonder and hope last season had crushed any hope of a comeback for the Xolos in this game. The goal was an easy tap in by Hurtado that resulted from a well-constructed play by his teammates. Now 2-0 down, the Xolos seemed less explosive and offensive than they were in the first half. “Chacho” Coudet opted for his first couple of substitutions in the 61st minute of the game. Alejandro Guido came on for Joe Corona and Juan Martin Lucero came on for Henry Martin. The adjustments were not exciting, just man-for-man changes that did not make much of an impact on the game.
The Argentine manager made a distinct change in the 78th minute, taking out Matias Aguirregaray and bringing on Matias Pisano. This substitution was much too late in the game to make a positive impact for the Xolos and made a negative impact on the game right away as Monterrey scored its third goal of the night. In the 79th minute, Carlos Sanchez scored the third goal to propel Antonio Mohamed’s side to the dominant 3-0 win against Eduardo Coudet’s men. Aviles Hurtado emerged as the hero for Monterrey and with the fans in the stands. The Colombian was cheered before the game began and when he was subbed out. To contrast that when the final whistle blew, the fans booed their team off the pitch and the displeasure and unrest could be seen throughout the Estadio Caliente.
The Xolos suffered yet another lackluster performance under Eduardo Coudet and questions must be asked now on how long the team can suffer before making drastic changes. Paul Arriola said that biggest improvement that needs to be made is “our chemistry”. The players are clearly not adapting to their new teammates and their new manager so easily and time can be the best cure for this problem. The Xolos will face Atlante in the Copa MX this Tuesday and Puebla next Friday in the Liga MX, away from home in what is a must-win game for the team.