The Tijuana Xolos visited Queretaro this Wednesday, April 12, to play the postponed week 10 match of the Liga MX Clausura 2017. The entire week 10 of the Liga MX had been postponed because of a strike by the referees. The matches were disputed this week from Tuesday, April 11 to Thursday, April 13 before the week 14 matches on the weekend. The Xolos were missing Victor Aguilera and Michael Orozco in the defense for this game, and head coach, Miguel Herrera.
Assistant coach, Diego Ramirez, was the man on the sidelines for the Xolos, but Miguel Herrera was still seen in the stands communicating with Ramirez via walkie-talkie. Herrera decided to go for a 4-4-2 formation. Gibran Lajud was in net. Juan Carlos Nunez, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Carlos Vargas, and Damian Perez made up the defense. The midfield was comprised of Guido Rodriguez and Joe Corona in the middle and Paul Arriola and Victor Malcorra playing out on the wings. The strike partnership was the dynamic duo of Milton Caraglio and Aviles Hurtado. All players except for Juan Carlos Nunez featured in the game against Club America last Friday. The veteran Nunez was taking the place of Michael Orozco in that right back role.
The game started out with a few key opportunities for both teams. Queretaro received the first clear chance of the game in the eighth minute of the encounter. Forward, Andres Renteria, found himself alone against Juan Carlos Nunez and made a dangerous shot towards Gibran Lajud’s net that went just wide to the right. In the 14th minute of the game, the Aztec Canines received their first scoring opportunity. Guido Rodriguez recovered the ball at midfield and passed it to Joe Corona, the San Diego native then passed the ball to his countryman, Paul Arriola, who was near the right wing. From the edge of Queretaro’s penalty area, Arriola sent a cross into Aviles Hurtado whose header landed right in the hands of Queretaro’s goalkeeper, Tiago Volpi.
In the 26th minute, the border city side threatened Queretaro’s net again. Aviles Hurtado stole a ball near the home team’s penalty area and passed the ball to Milton Caraglio. The Argentine forward tried to shoot just outside the penalty area, but his shot was blocked and Caraglio passed the ball to Victor Malcorra on the rebound. Inside the penalty area, Malcorra had enough space to take a shot and did release a potent shot that unfortunately fell just wide to the right of Tiago Volpi’s net. Three minutes later, in the 29th minute of the encounter, Tijuana continued to attack the ‘Gallos Blancos’. The Prehistoric Dogs received a free kick, which Victor Malcorra executed perfectly, but unfortunately, Tiago Volpi punched the ball out of danger to maintain the 0-0 score. The Xolos were clearly the more dangerous side. In the 34th minute, Victor Malcorra crossed the ball into Queretaro’s penalty area. Paul Arriola failed to get to the ball at the end of the cross and Tijuana failed to complete another opportunity.
The Canines were getting the majority of the opportunities in the first half, but in the 37th minute of the encounter Queretaro created an opportunity for themselves. Luis Miguel Noriega crossed the ball into Tijuana’s penalty area where Yerson Candelo was waiting for the cross. The sphere did find Candelo, but fortunately the Colombian rocketed the ball into the stands and the scoreless draw continued at the Estadio Corregidora. The border city side got the last opportunity of the first half, getting their second free kick near Queretaro’s net. Victor Malcorra took a shot from about 23 yards out, but the sphere landed just to the left of the opponent’s goal. The first half ended with a very enticing encounter at hand. The Xolos seemed like the team that was the most likely to score after the first 45 minutes, but just needed to be more clinical in the final third.
The second half of the game did not start out great, with not very many opportunities to start off the last 45 minutes. The Aztec Canines suffered a huge loss in the 61st minute as Juan Carlos Nunez received his second yellow card of the game to give him a red card and leave the Xolos a man down. Miguel Herrera and Diego Ramirez did a good job to adapt the team with 10 men on the pitch and still found ways to push forward. In the 73rd minute of the match, Tijuana’s luck turned around. Queretaro’s Camilo Sanvezzo knocked down Aviles Hurtado inside the home team’s penalty area. Hurtado struck the penalty beautifully in the top right-hand corner where Tiago Volpi could not get to the ball and gave Club Tijuana the 1-0 lead.
After that goal, the Xolos stayed back for the rest of the game, conserving their lead. It was a smart tactic by Miguel Herrera to walk away with the three points even with 10 men on the pitch. The Canine’s defense was impressive, not allowing Queretaro to do much when they were on the attack. The 18-year-old, Carlos Vargas, had another important performance, playing the entire 90 minutes of the game. After Nunez was suspended, the other youngster, Hiram Munoz, was brought on to solidify the defense, replacing Victor Malcorra. It is likely that Munoz and Vargas will start on Saturday against Chiapas, but there should be no concern as the two have looked fantastic so far. The win was a huge one for the Xolos, getting them to 22 points in the tournament, improving their chances of making the playoffs massively. The Prehistoric Dogs still have a lot of work to do, especially with a very young defense now. The disciplinary issues are concerning as Nunez was Tijuana’s fourth red card this Clausura, which is now tied for the most in the Liga MX with Atlas and Puebla. This was an important three points for the border city side and now it is time to focus on Saturday’s match against Chiapas. Fuerza Tijuas!
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.