The Tijuana Xolos played against the L.A. Galaxy in a friendly match this last Tuesday, Feb. 7 at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. “El Clasico de Las Californias” ended in a 1-1 draw on a damp night in the city of Los Angeles. Miguel Herrera utilized the encounter as a way to get young players some game time.
‘El Piojo’ went with a 5-2-3 formation, making many substitutions throughout the game. Veteran Luis Michel started in between the sticks. The defense was made up of John Requejo, Juan Carlos Nunez, Pablo Meza, Hiram Munoz, and Carlos Vargas. The two holding midfielders were an experienced pair in Juan Carlos Medina and newly-signed Jorge Ortiz. While the attack was made up of Luis Chavez, Henry Martin, and newly-signed Matias Pisano.
The squad that Herrera brought out was very young, with only four players in the starting 11 exceeding the age of 25. The Galaxy also used this game as an opportunity to test various young talent, but brought some household names in its lineup like Brian Rowe, Jelle Van Damme, Ashley Cole, Jermaine Jones, and Sebastian Lletget.
The first two opportunities of the game for the Xolos both fell to 23-year-old Pablo Meza. First, in the 18th minute, Meza blasted a shot over the crossbar after the sphere was given to him by Luis Chavez. Then, nine minutes later in the 27th minute of the match, via a header off a corner kick that did not result in the Xolos favor. The Los Angeles team would also have a few chances in the first half of the encounter, most notably in the 41st minute. Jermaine Jones had a shot from far out that ended up smashing the post of Luis Michel’s net. The first half ended in a hard-fought 0-0 score with some decent scoring opportunities for both teams.
The second half of the friendly match started off with Galaxy head coach Curt Onalfo utilizing a completely different lineup than he had in the first half, not using anybody that played in the first half, giving even younger players a chance to shine in this game. Miguel Herrera made no substitutions at half time, but would make several later in the game.
In the 52nd minute of the game the first goal finally came. Unfortunately, it was to the home team. Ghanaian forward, Emmanuel Boateng, found his way near the Xolos penalty area and made a beautiful cross to Jose Villareal, who finished the opportunity with a first-time shot.
Shortly after, however, in the 54th minute of the match, the Xolos would get a chance to equalize the game with a penalty kick. Newly signed Matias Pisano boldly took an opportunity and tucked it away to tie the game at a goal a piece.
The string of Miguel Herrera’s substitutions began in the 56th minute of the game and lasted until the end of the match. First in the 56th minute, Amando Moreno replaced Pablo Meza. Then in the 62nd minute of the match, San Diego native, and former Southwestern College student, Adrian Ramos, came in for veteran Juan Carlos Medina. In the 65th minute of the encounter, 37-year-old goalkeeper Luis Michel would come off to give 23-year-old goalie Dilan Nicoletti a chance to get some minutes in.
Galaxy’s goalkeeper, Clement Diop, stole the show in the second half of the match with several saves throughout, most notably in the 83rd minute of the match where the guardian of the net would leap and pull off a one-handed save to deny the Xolos of the winning goal of the game.
The substitutions would continue for ‘El Piojo’, giving more youngsters the chance to play on an MLS pitch. Luis Martinez replaced Juan Carlos Nunez in the 80th minute of the match. Then a few minutes later in the 86th minute of the friendly, Antonio Nava replaced 21-year-old Luis Chavez, who had a really nice game for Tijuana. Daniel Lopez also came on for Henry Martin. Finally, in the 89th minute, the last substitution of the game came for Miguel Herrera as Angel Uribe replaced another young player in John Requejo.
The match ended with different players on the pitch than the ones who had started the encounter, and many young players were given an opportunity to play under a great coach in Miguel Herrera. The match served its purpose and the Xolos made the most of it, most notably getting an opportunity to see Jorge Ortiz and Matias Pisano. Although the Argentine pair may not get an opportunity to start right away in Liga MX matches, this was a good stepping stone for the duo to get accustomed to the style of play on this continent. Pisano, of course, showed boldness and confidence by stepping up to take a penalty and scoring it in his first game with the club.
Going forward it will be nice to see if Herrera eventually gives the Argentine pair a role in the starting 11 for Xolos and also if any of these young players do get a chance to play in some Copa MX games. Club Tijuana will now move on to its next task in the Liga MX as it will face Necaxa at the Estadio Caliente this Friday, Feb. 10. Fuerza Tijuas!