Game: Tijuana Xolos vs Club America
When: Friday, April 7
Where: Estadio Caliente
Time: 7:00 P.M. PST
TV: Azteca America
The Tijuana Xolos will play Club America in week 13 of the Liga MX Clausura 2017. The teams faced each other earlier this year in the Copa MX competition. Club Tijuana did get the slight edge in that game, winning 1-0 with a goal by San Diego native, Paul Arriola. The game brought a tremendous atmosphere to the Estadio Caliente with fans from both teams making their presence felt. The match itself was intense, especially towards the final whistle. This match is expected to be one of the best of the weekend with both teams in the mix for a playoff spot.
The Aztec Canines are coming off a hard-fought 3-3 draw to Atlas in week 12 of the competition. The match was easily the most exciting encounter the Xolos have been in this year. But performance wise, the Prehistoric Dogs were lucky to get a point from the game. Aviles Hurtado had a huge performance, getting two goals. One of them was the goal of his career, and an early contender for the best goal of 2017. The point gained from the match was in large part due to the heroic effort put in by the goalkeeper, Gibran Lajud, who even saved a penalty in the game. The performance was shaky, to say the least, especially by the flawed backline. The defense will suffer for the remainder of the campaign as it was recently announced by Miguel Herrera that center-back, Victor Aguilera, will miss the rest of the Clausura 2017.
The 18-year-old defender, Carlos Vargas, is the man who is likely to replace Aguilera for the remainder of the season as he has done before. The inclusion of the youngster does affect the team as Juan Carlos Valenzuela, and more so, Michael Orozco, must be flawless covering any of the youngster’s mistakes. The last three results for the Tijuana Xolos have not been ideal– the 3-3 draw to Atlas, the 1-1 draw to Santos Laguna and the 3-2 loss to Pachuca. The border city side was lucky to draw against Santos Laguna, getting a goal in stoppage time. While the loss to Pachuca was a self-destructive performance by the canines, completely falling apart in the second half of the encounter. The Xolos will again be without Miguel Herrera on the sidelines, serving his third of five games out due to a suspension.
Jorge Ortiz also received a red card in the game against Atlas and will not be available for this game. Disciplinary issues have plagued Tijuana in this tournament, currently tied for fifth in yellow cards with 23 and tied for second in red cards with three. The red cards were all received in the last three games and have all been to midfielders, which is worrying. Only two points separate the Xolos in fourth and Monarcas Morelia in ninth place. Club Tijuana does not have a playoff spot secured in this tournament and this game can prove to be vital to the Xolos’ playoff aspirations. The rest of the season is filled with tough fixtures and the Xolos need to turn things around after three games without a win.
Club America is, of course, the most popular and successful team in the Liga MX. It is also the most hated team in the country, with many fans having a strong hatred towards ‘Las Aguilas’. The Mexico City team is not flying high like an eagle in this tournament, barely hanging onto a playoff spot, currently in seventh place with 17 points. Only one point separates America from the Xolos in fourth place, this game being vital for both teams. Club America is currently in outstanding form, undefeated in its last four games, getting three huge victories in this span.
The team from the capital city defeated two cross-town rivals in Cruz Azul and Pumas UNAM during this run of good form. Recently, in week 12 of the competition, the ‘Azulcremas’ also managed to defeat Monterrey. Head coach, Ricardo La Volpe, has emphasized the use of youngsters within his starting 11, using 19-year-old Edson Alvarez and 16-year-old Diego Lainez against Monterrey in that week 12 clash. The defense for Club America, in theory, should be weakened without their best defender, Pablo Aguilar. The Paraguayan center-back charged at the referee after the Copa MX game between the Tijuana Xolos and ‘Las Aguilas’ and received a one-year ban for making contact with the official with his head. The Mexico City team can still prove to be a force, with one of the best goalkeepers in the league between the sticks in Agustin Marchesin. Club America will not go down without a fight and the type of intensity the fans and players brought in the Copa MX match between the two teams is expected for this match.
The two teams have faced each other on 11 separate occasions. Club America has had the advantage, winning six games, the Xolos have won three of the encounters, and two of the clashes have ended in draws. The matchups at the Estadio Caliente have been very contested with Club America winning two games, the Aztec Canines getting two victories as well, and one draw between the two teams. The latest clash between the two in league play was at the Estadio Azteca where ‘Las Aguilas’ won 1-0. The latest game at the Estadio Caliente in league play came in the Apertura 2015 competition, where Club America got the 2-0 win away from home. The two teams, of course, also played each other in the round of 16 in the Copa MX at the Estadio Caliente earlier this year. The Xolos used their home-field advantage and obtained the slim 1-0 win. Miguel Herrera did say during a midweek press conference that he expects this game to be similar to that Copa MX bout. The match should be a hard-fought encounter with the winner of the duel really having to earn the three points.
Players To Watch
Aviles Hurtado is coming off a fantastic match against Atlas in week 12 of the competition. The Colombian forward scored two goals, and one of his goals made the global news for being such a spectacle. Hurtado did an unthinkable looking full bicycle kick off a corner by Joe Corona that ended with a fierce strike, finding the top left corner of Atlas’ net. Hurtado will be the center of attention in this game after that beautiful goal. The 29-year-old winger was also in the news recently for saying that his future with Club Tijuana is uncertain. Hurtado also mentioned Club America as a possible team to join next season. It will be interesting to see if the Colombian forward can stay focused throughout the encounter going up against Club America.
Club America’s captain has also been one of their best players this year with five goals in the Liga MX. Peralta did score the lone goal in the 1-0 victory over Monterrey, ‘El Hermoso’ also scored one goal in the Mexico City team’s 3-2 win over rivals, Pumas UNAM, in week 11 of the Clausura. Peralta is an experienced player who does usually show up in big moments. This game is monumental at this stage of the season for Club America, and expect Oribe Peralta to try and make his mark on the game.
This should easily be one of the best matchups this weekend in the Liga MX. Apart from the game, the atmosphere should be a spectacle at the border city fortress this Friday. The first clash between the two did not disappoint, being an outstanding encounter with an unbelievable atmosphere. Expect the Club America fans to be present on Friday night as well as Club America. This should not be an easy game for the Xolos, especially without Miguel Herrera or Victor Aguilera. The defense has been shaky in previous encounters and expect nothing different in this match. The Xolos offense could get them the win if they can be clinical enough. The prediction for the match is a 2-2 draw with the Xolos getting goals from Aviles Hurtado and Guido Rodriguez, and the goals for Club America coming from Oribe Peralta and Cecilio Dominguez. The game should be exciting and present a glimpse of what a Liga MX stadium looks like around playoff time. 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.