The Tijuana Xolos played their final game of the Liga MX Clausura 2018 regular season this Friday as they hosted Toluca at the Estadio Caliente.
There was chaos at the Mictlan with reports that the Xolos’ players could revolt against payment issues and not play the game along with a music festival in the parking lot that only allowed fans to go in the stadium through one entrance. The game was played and right on time as the home fans were exuberated for the chance of officially making the playoffs.
Monarcas Morelia and Necaxa had tied in a matchup right before the game between Club Tijuana and Toluca, which meant a win would secure a ticket in the playoffs. The Border City Dogs did just that as they defeated Los Diablos Rojos 1-0. The game was not easy by any stretch of the word as Hernan Cristante used a solid lineup and Los Escarlatas put up a very good fight. Players like Rodrigo Salinas, Santiago Garcia, Luis Quinones, Alexis Canelo and Gabriel Huache did play in the encounter.
The match seemed open to anybody in the first half hour of the game but then in the 32nd minute, Gustavo Bou gave Club Tijuana a 1-0 lead that stayed strong for the entire 90 minutes. The goal was a gift by Gabriel Hauche to his former team as he passed the ball back to his goalkeeper from midfield. The bizarre pass caught his teammates off guard as Gustavo Bou came at full speed for the ball and rounded Luis Garcia to secure the 1-o victory.
The Xolos wasted countless opportunities after that goal and could have easily won the game by a more substantial scoreline. One of the clearest chances was a long-range shot by Luis Angel Mendoza in the 62nd minute that was just stopped by Luis Garcia’s fingertips. Another one of the more dangerous opportunities came in the 82nd minute when a free kick by Luis Chavez found Toluca’s Maximiliano Perg. The Uruguayan defender almost put the ball into his own net but the posts denied the sphere from crossing the goal line.
The Aztec Canines finished the game with 16 shots on target and it was worrying that the border city side wasted so many golden opportunities. However, the important thing to take from the match was the result as the Xoloitzcuintles qualified to the playoffs with the three points from the game.
Man of The Match: Gustavo Bou
The defense was brilliant on the day as Toluca finished the game with no shots on target and credit does have to be given to the backline. However, Gustavo Bou had one of his better performances this season as he seemed to be the focal point of the attack. The Argentine forward did score the lone goal of the game and also had three shots, four successful dribbles, 28 accurate passes and two key passes. Bou has embraced his new as more of a creator than a poacher and has worked well in recent weeks. It is exciting to see that Bou is starting to pick up steam with the playoffs on the horizon and the potential he does have.
Main Talking Point: Playoffs!
The Xolos have officially made the playoffs and the fans were energized and extremely content after the final whistle. Club Tijuana missed the playoffs last season under the leadership of Eduardo Coudet but have now returned to La Liguilla with Diego Cocca at the helm. The Xolos are currently in sixth place with 25 points and could potentially face teams like Tigres UANL, Monterrey and Club America in the first round of the playoffs. It should be a tough task for the Border City Dogs but it will be exciting to see playoff soccer back in at the Estadio Caliente.
Ignacio Rivero and Juan Carlos Valenzuela talked about the game and making the playoffs and both players seemed to share similar opinions. When asked about the game, Rivero said, “We could have increased the lead, but it just didn’t happen. But we’re happy that we completed the objective.” The Uruguayan midfielder also talked about the playoffs and said, “We’re in it to put up a fight and I think that with this result this group is very convinced of what it is capable of doing”. Juan Carlos Valenzuela talked about what comes after this result against Toluca. Valenzuela said, “Wait for our opponent, plan and prepare for the away game in the best way possible and see what is better for the manager and the players.” The Xolos will have a tough opponent in the first round of the playoffs but for now, the team and fans can celebrate the accolade of making it into “la fiesta grande”.
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.