The Tijuana Xolos played their last game of the Liga MX 2023 Apertura season this Friday, November 10, at the Estadio Caliente. Club Tijuana needed a win from this match to make the Liga MX playoffs but failed to get the victory in what was a thrilling game at the Mictlan.
Miguel Herrera fielded the same team that lost 3-0 to Club America at the Estadio Azteca last week, with the exception of Kevin Balanta, who picked up a red card in the game against Las Aguilas. Balanta’s absence was felt, as Club Tijuana had some clear miscues in the backline.
The Xoloitzcuintles has more possession and significantly more goalscoring opportunities than Pachuca in the first half of the match. The Aztec Canines had 54 percent possession and 16 total shots to Pachuca’s four in the initial 45 minutes of play. Fernando Madrigal scored the lone goal of the first half at the end of the half via a shot from inside of the box off a cross by Domingo Blanco.
In the initial minutes of the second half, Xolos kept that tempo going, as Kevin Castaneda almost made it a 2-0 game after a header that was stopped by Pachuca goalkeeper Carlos Moreno. After that scoring opportunity, Club Tijuana fell apart with three unanswered goals by Erick Sanchez for Los Tuzos. The goals all occurred in a span of 18 minutes, as the tone really changed at the Estadio Caliente.
Sanchez’s goals were impressive, but there were some mistakes made by Club Tijuana’s backline that facilitated the hat-trick. This was especially evident in the third goal, where Rafael Fernandez was easily beaten by Sanchez on the play. Xolos’ Manager, Miguel Herrera, described Fernandez as a player “that needs to grow” and keep on developing.
In the 81st minute, the border city team was able to score via a free-kick by Kevin Castaneda, which made it a 3-2 game. Club Tijuana had some late-game efforts to try and make a comeback, but the Xoloitzcuintles needed two goals, and it was all for not, as the game ended 3-2.
Fans were clearly upset by the end of the match, as loud boos and jeers were heard across the Mictlan at the final whistle. The intensity wass felt towards the end of the match, with Pachuca’s manager, Guillermo Almada, receiving a red card as well.
Miguel Herrera expressed his discontent with this season in the post-game press conference, qualifying this season as straight up “bad”. The Mexican manager talked about plans for Club Tijuana’s roster heading into next season, “Some players will go. I can’t keep waiting for them to perform. Some have been on the roster for a while.”
Herrera also mentioned that the loss against Pachuca may have been due to certain players lacking “quality.” “Piojo” also mentioned a specific position that needs bolstering heading into next year, “We need another striker to help Charly (Carlos Gonzalez) score more goals. Unfortunately, Cavallini was not able to do that.”
The Xoloitzcuintles are currently 12th place on the Liga MX table, out of the playoffs for an eighth consecutive season. It seems that Miguel Herrera will stay on as manager, but as the Mexican coach mentioned, there needs to be certain players added to compete.
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.