The Tijuana Xolos celebrated their 10th anniversary in grand fashion on Friday, as they won by a margin of 6-2 against Puebla F.C.
The Xolos went with the exact same lineup that they presented against Morelia in week one of the Liga MX Clausura 2017, a classic 4-4-2 formation, with Manuel Lajud in net, Damian Perez, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Victor Aguilera, and Michael Orozco as the defense. Then Victor Malcorra, Guido Rodriguez, Juan Carlos Medina, and Chula Vista native, Paul Arriola, to make up the midfield. Finally, the strike force of the skillful, Aviles Hurtado, and the powerful, Milton Caraglio. One interesting thing was that fresh signing, Juan Martin Lucero, did make it on to the bench for Tijuana.
The atmosphere at the ‘Estadio Caliente’ was vivid. 25,333 fans filled the stadium, which fits a total of 27,333. The Xolos players were clearly motivated in front of the home crowd that chanted “Fuerza Tijuas!” right from the start. The Xolos made sure the fans got what they paid for, as they started it off briskly with the first goal of the game coming in the fourth minute. Captain, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, won the ball on Tijuana’s side of the pitch, then he passed the sphere to the middle of the pitch to Victor Malcorra.
The Argentine Midfielder then made a quick pass towards the left wing of the pitch to his countryman, Damian Perez. The fullback then made a long pass up the field to Milton Caraglio. The Argentine forward had his back towards the net, but passed it on the first touch beautifully towards the left wing to Victor Malcorra. Malcorra, who was inside the penalty area, made a perfect pass in between two of Puebla’s defenders to striker, Aviles Hurtado, who found space in between four of Puebla’s players. Hurtado was faced towards the left wing of the pitch but struck the ball beautifully on the first touch with his left foot to put it away for the first goal.
In the 39th minute, the tide turned in favor of Puebla F.C., as a penalty kick was awarded to Los ‘Camoteros’. Manuel Lajud, who saved a penalty last week, was not as lucky this week as Puebla’s top goal scorer, Alexis Canelo, sunk the kick beautifully in the left side of Tiuana’s net. The 1-1 score would not last very long, as Tijuana would get back on the score sheet in compensation time of the first half. Paul Arriola recovered the ball for Tijuana in their side of the pitch, then made a spectacular pass upfield towards Aviles Hurtado. An error by Puebla’s defender, Robert Hererera, allowed the Colombian forward to run past Puebla’s defense. Finally, Hurtado chipped the ball perfectly over goalkeeper, Cristian Campestrini, to give the Xolos’s the edge again.
The first half finished with the Xolos leading by a score of 2-1. Puebla still seemed to be in the game, however, as they did not play all that badly in the first half.
After a spectacular half time show that payed tribute to the fans and the Xolos 10th anniversary, Tijuana’s faithful were in for a bigger treat in the second half of the game. Puebla proved that they still had a chance in the game in the 59th minute. Alexis Canelo played the sphere with his head then dropped it with his foot, which landed right to veteran, Patricio Araujo. The 28-year-old made a powerful strike, which landed in the back of Manuel Lajud’s net. The game got interesting at 2-2, but just like the first time Puebla tied the game, this score also did not last.
Victor Malcorra found his way to the left wing of the pitch near Puebla’s net. The Argentine midfielder crossed the ball into the penalty area, but one of Puebla’s defenders deflected the ball. The ball landed right to Chula Vista native, Paul Arriola’s feet. After a bounce, the American midfielder kicked the ball powerfully and the sphere landed in the top left corner of the ‘Camotero’s’ net. After 61 minutes, Xolos lead by a score of 3-2 in their first home game of the season, but the trend continued and that score also did not last too long. In the 67th minute, it was finally Milton Caraglio’s turn to get on the score sheet. Victor Malcorra yet again found his way on the left wing near Puebla’s penalty area. Again, Malcorra crossed the ball. An error by Robert Herrera proved to be fatal yet again for Puebla F.C. The ball went right through Hererra, which allowed Milton Caraglio to do a scissor kick to make it a 4-2 game.
In the 80th minute things got even worse for Puebla F.C and defender, Robert Herrera. Sweetwater High School Alumnus, Joe Corona, broke away from the defense, but Herrera got desperate and dropped Corona from behind on the break away. The foul was ruled to be outside the box, but the horrible tackle did earn the Puebla defender a red card. The 80th minute also marked a special moment in the game for Tijuana as Juan Martin Lucero came on for Martin Caraglio, making his debut in the Liga MX. The free kick proved to be lethal for the Xolos, as Victor Ignacio Malcorra struck the ball perfectly with his left foot over Puebla’s defenders and into the right-hand side of Cristian Campestrini’s net. The strike left the Argentine goal keeper motionless and the score now was an amazing 5-2 for Los Xolos. Tijuana showed no mercy as one last goal came in the 83rd minute of the game.
Aviles Hurtado passed the ball to Victor Malcorra who found his way into the penalty area of Puebla’s net. Victor Igancio took a shot which was deflected by Puebla’s goalie, but a defensive error was fatal yet again for Puebla F.C. Patricio Araujo failed to clear the ball which left it right at the feet of Joe Corona. The former Sweetwater High student finished the opportunity with ease as just a tap-in was needed to make it a 6-2 score. The final key chance of the game fell to fresh signing, Juan Martin Lucero. In the 87th minute, defender, Damian Perez, found his way up the pitch. A pass allowed Perez to cross the ball into Puebla’s penalty area, and the sphere landed perfectly on Lucero’s head. But a spectacular save by Cristian Campestrini denied Juan Martin Lucero having an amazing start to his Liga MX career.
The game finalized at 6-2 and everyone was happy and having a good time at the “Estadio Caliente”, celebrating the victory and the 10th anniversary of their soccer team. The player of the match had to be Victor Igancio Malcorra who scored a beautiful free kick and was influential in almost all of Tijuana’s scoring opportunities. The player who did not have the best game for Tijuana had to be American defender, Michael Orozco. Orozco seemed to be lost throughout the game and did not hold the position of fullback the best. Many times his countryman, Paul Arriola, had to cover Orozco from errors that could have cost Tijuana some goals. Orozco has mainly played as a center back his whole career, so it comes as no surprise that he is struggling in the fullback position. Maybe Miguel Herrera can consider moving Arriola to fullback, Hurtado to midfield, and have Lucero up top with Martin Carglio to avoid further problems in the season. Overall though, this victory was immense and the Xolos showed just how lethal they are in front of their home crowd. Hopefully this momentum can also bring results away from home as Tijuana will travel to Guadalajara next week to face Chivas. The match will be a thriller, so stay tuned for the preview to come. The Xolos will also start their Copa MX campaign this Tuesday against Liga de Asenso team, Sonora, away from the “Estadio Caliente”. Until next time, Fuerza Tijuas!