The Tijuana Xolos and the other 17 teams in the Liga MX are gearing up for the Apertura 2018 and the recent installment of the draft took place this Wednesday, June 7. This is not the traditional sense of a draft in sports as there are no youngsters being selected out of colleges and high schools. Instead, coaches and members of every Liga MX team’s front office gather in a hotel in Cancun to conduct business. This is the only day where Liga MX teams can do transactions within the league before resorting to the international market, which the Xolos usually do.
One new rule in Liga MX transactions is that there is now free agents and players are not tied to teams like before. The Xolos did end up losing 29-year-old fullback Damian Perez to free agency and it is rumored that he will join Argentine team Racing Club. Perez was a significant loss as he had been with the Aztec Canines since the Apertura 2016 campaign. The South American defender amassed 63 appearances with the Border City Dogs in four tournaments and was liked by the fans. Gabriel Huache was also lost in free agency, but he has not played with Club Tijuana since the Apertura 2016.
Fortunately, Diego Cocca did find a replacement for Perez in this period before and during the draft in Luis Fuentes of Pumas UNAM. Fuentes was not the only addition from Pumas UNAM as Club Tijuana also added 25-year-old Mexican striker Erick Torres. The pair from the Mexican City club did not come cheap as Diego Cocca had to give up Juan Manuel Iturbe and Ignacio Malcorra to Pumas UNAM in the deal.
Los Rojinegros also made dealings with Cruz Azul within this period as the Xolos dealt away team captain Pablo Aguilar to Los Celestes. In return, the Xolos did end up getting defender Julian Velazquez on a one-year loan without an option to buy as well as the contract of fullback Omar Mendoza. Mendoza was decent for the Aztec Canines during the Clausura 2018 and does seem to have Diego Cocca’s full confidence.
Velazquez seems to be a decent replacement for Pablo Aguilar as he has good aerial abilities, but his defensive capabilities do leave something to be desired. The Argentine centre-back had been with Cruz Azul since the Apertura 2016 tournament and does have a good sense of the league. However, there is also a plethora of leadership that is lost without Aguilar and this move could prove costly.
Another member of the Xolos’ defense, Michael Orozco was also shipped away from the team as he was signed by Lobos BUAP. The American defender had been with the Xoloitzcuintles since the Apertura 2015 and had a total of 54 Liga MX appearances with the team. Orozco is a versatile payer as he can play as a fullback and centre-back, therefore, the Xolos will lose a lot of squad depth without him.
Finally, the latest departure that was made official was Luis Angel Mendoza reaching an agreement with Toluca. “Quick” scored three goals in 22 appearances with the Prehistoric Dogs in two tournaments and again the team will lose some depth.
— @Xolos_En (@xolos_en) June 6, 2018
Jesus Angulo, a 21-year-old winger and Edgar Yoel Barcenas, a 24-year-old winger are also already confirmed to be joining the team. However, the moves have not been made official and it will be interesting to see what over moves the Xolos can make in the coming days.
Additions: Julian Velazquez (Cruz Azul), Omar Mendoza (Cruz Azul), Erick Torres (Pumas UNAM), Luis Fuentes (Pumas UNAM)
Departures: Ignacio Malcorra (Pumas UNAM), Juan Manuel Iturbe (Pumas UNAM), Pablo Aguilar (Cruz Azul), Michael Orozco (Lobos BUAP), Gabriel Huache (Free Agency), Damian Perez (Free Agency)