Tijuana Xolos Liga MX CL 18 Week 12 Recap: Miller Scores, Damian Musto Picks Up Red Card In Disappointing Result At Home

Credit: Liga MX

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Credit: Liga MX

Tijuana, Mexico

The Tijuana Xolos played their 12th game in the Liga MX Clausura 2018 on Friday as the border city side hosted Monarcas Morelia at the Estadio Caliente.

The Aztec Canines needed a win after an embarrassing elimination in the CONCACAF Champions League, but failed to get one, as the game ended 1-1. From the initial whistle up until halftime, the Xolos did look like the better team, really pressing and aiming to score some goals on the night.

The first goal came in the fourth minute as Miller Bolanos found the back of the net off a cross inside the box by Ignacio Rivero. La Monarquia did manage to strike back before the end of the first half with a potent free kick by Diego Valdes that made it a 1-1 scoreline in the 37th minute. Club Tijuana started off the second half looking very dangerous as Alberto Garcia pulled off a shot in the 46th minute that was stopped by Sebastian Sosa. Garcia had another shot in the 53rd minute, but again, Sosa impeded his strike from giving Club Tijuana the lead.

The Xolos had several other key opportunities before the end of the match, but Morelia had a handful of chances themselves. The goalkeepers stopped every shot that came their way and the players also sailed some chances over the bar and out of play. One of the key moments of the match came in stoppage time, when Damian Musto picked up a very unnecessary red card. This did not affect this particular game, but will have severe repercussions heading into the Xolos’ next match.

The result was another disappointing one for the 20 thousand-plus Xolos’ fans at the Mictlan, for several reasons. The Border City Dogs did look very solid in this clash and did manage to construct enticing plays going forward. However, the result was terrible considering it did come at home and Musto’s mishap as well. Monarcas Morelia is now on 20 points this season and this was a failed opportunity to gain some ground on a potential playoff team.

Xolos’ Lineup: Gibran Lajud, Omar Mendoza, Pablo Aguilar, Hiram Munoz, Damian Perez, Luis Mendoza (75’ Mateus Goncalves), Damian Musto, Ignacio Rivero (78’ Luis Chavez), Ignacio Malcorra, Miller Bolanos (69’ Juan Martin Lucero), Alberto Garcia

Diego Cocca kept his trust in the players that were part of the embarrassing CONCACAF Champions League failure as he used almost the same starting XI that was used against the Red Bulls last Tuesday. The only modification was starting Ignacio Malcorra over Mateus Goncalves, which did improve the team in this match. It was interesting to see Juan Martin Lucero on the bench, especially after some less than impressive performances by Alberto Garcia, but the Mexican striker did have a solid game. The formation that was used by Diego Cocca varied throughout the encounter, but seemed to be just a standard 4-4-2. Ignacio Malcorra was one of the more free-roaming players for Cocca as he switched wings and also played down the middle in some instances of the match. The formation and lineup were effective as they produced several opportunities for the Xoloitzcuintles, but it was not enough to get the win on the day.

Man of The Match: Gibran Lajud

It seems like the Estadio Caliente has now turned into a fortress for visiting goalkeepers. Luis Robles was the bane of Xolos’ existence in the CONCACAF Champions League, with 10 saves at the Estadio Caliente in the first leg of that series. Sebastian Sosa had an immense performance at the Mictlan this Friday, with six saves that also impacted the result. However, Gibran Lajud also pulled off four saves of his own and was ultimately the player that impeded a loss for the Border City Dogs. His most vital save came in the 89th minute as he stopped a shot from outside of the box by Raul Ruidiaz that was headed towards the back of the net. Lajud also saved a one-on-one against Diego Valdes earlier in the game and made a very significant impact on the final result.

Main Talking Point: Musto’s Red Card

The draw felt like a loss for Club Tijuana, especially considering the red card that Damian Musto picked up in stoppage time. The Argentine is one of the most crucial players for the Xoloitzcuintles and is almost irreplaceable in his defensive midfield role. There are not any other players for Club Tijuana that solely play as a defensive midfielder, and that will be a huge problem in the Xolos’ next league game against Veracruz. Musto is also one of the more physical players on the Aztec Canines and the team certainly loses grit, leadership, and physicality in that midfield with his absence.

Post-Game Quotes

Morelia’s manager Roberto Hernandez said that the result does leave him with a chance of “tranquility”. Hernandez did seem content as his team is now on 20 points and almost seems like a lock for the playoffs. Diego Cocca did not seem as thrilled about the result because of some of the factors that were mentioned before. On the game, Cocca said, “Today the team showed personality after the elimination (to the Red Bulls), we were superior to the rival.” Cocca also talked about Damian Musto’s red Card and said, “For me, the referee made an error”. The Argentine displayed discontent and also said, “We are now left with one less important player”. Finally, Cocca did give an update on Gustavo Bou’s injury and said, “Gustavo is very good”. Cocca also mentioned that he is likely to feature in the Xoloitzcuintles’ friendly match against Club America in San Diego on March 24.

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