The Tijuana Xolos finally achieved their first three points of the Copa Corona MX this Tuesday, January 31, as they beat second division side, Correcaminos UAT 2-1 in Tijuana.
The win was far from easy in this clash between the two border cities of Tijuana and Tamaulipas. The Xolos used this battle for charity, as they raised 13 tons of grains to help people in need. Tickets to the game were given to those who donated. The attendance was expected to be decent and it was at 20,333. The fans were amazing throughout the game, as expected at the Estadio Caliente, but definitely above average for what you’d expect in a Copa MX match.
Miguel Herrera went with a 5-2-3 formation for the game. Veteran Luis Ernesto Michel started in net for Tijuana. The defense was then made up of John Requejo, Yasser Corona, Victor Aguilera, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, and Juan Carlos Nunez. The midfield duo consisted of Guido Rodriguez and Juan Carlos Medina, while the trio up top was made up of Juan Martin Lucero, Aviles Hurtado, and Henry Martin.
Miguel Herrera obviously knew that he had to win this game as he started key players like captain Juan Carlos Valenzuela and Aviles Hurtado. The first 14 minutes of the game were hard-fought from both sides with the Correcaminos utilizing a high-pressure style of play. Then in the 15th minute of the game, Henry Martin opened up the score for Tijuana. A crash between Guido Rodriguez and a UAT defender made the sphere land perfectly for Henry Martin on the half-moon of Tamaulipas’ net. The Mexican striker dropped the sphere to perfection and released a powerful shot which landed in the top left-hand side of the Correcaminos net. After that amazing goal not much else occurred during the first half of the match.
Tijuana did dominate the first half of the encounter, having five shots and missing a few key opportunities which could have resulted in more goals. The second half of the game instantly looked more promising than the first half in terms of scoring chances. In the 48th minute of the encounter, defender Yasser Corona found his way upfield and came very close to scoring. A shot near the left post of the Correcaminos net was stopped, remarkably, by goalkeeper Miguel Centeno, earning the Xolos a corner. The Aztec Dogs made the most of the corner as Juan Carlos Medina almost scored an olympic goal from the corner but Yasser Corona was there to tap and deflection by goalkeeper Miguel Centeno to make it a 2-0 game. 10 minutes later Jaime Ordiaales’ team got back into the encounter with a nice string of passes that found defender Roberto Saucedo inside the penalty area. Saucedo somehow pulled off a shot in between two of Tijuana’s defenders, and managed to get the ball past Luis Michel to make it a 2-1 game.
The first of three substitutions by Miguel Herrera came in the 58th minute of the match when New Jersey-born Amando Moreno replaced Aviles Hurtado. Then in the 65th minute, the second substitution of the game came when 21-year-old Luis Chavez replaced veteran Juan Carlos Medina. A turning point in the match was when Amando Moreno was booked in the 66th minute. That booking cause a string of interesting events for the Xolos in the remainder of the game. Southern California-born John Requejo would get a questionable red card in the 76th minute of the game which left Miguel Herrera with 10 men on the pitch. In the 80th minute of the match Miguel Herrera continued to bring on youung players, with 21-year-old Hiram Munoz replacing captain Juan Carlos Valenzuela. The captain had a solid game for Tijuana, helping out the back-line a lot during the encounter.
Remember how that yellow card for Amando Moreno was a turning point in the match? Well in the 83rd minute of the game, Moreno received his second yellow, resulting in a red card for the young Xolos Player. You could tell the referees were a bit off as ref Miguel Angel Flores almost did not realize that Amando Moreno was already booked when giving him his second yellow of the day.
Miguel Herrera made a comment about the referees after the game, saying, “unfortunately they help waste one of our games”. Miguel Herrera was left with only nine players on the pitch and seven long minutes to go in the match. All odds seemed to be against Tijuana as in the 88th minute of the encounter a clash between a Correcaminos player and Yasser Corona was brutal enough that the Tijuana Center back was left unconscious. An ambulance had to take Corona off the field and to the hospital. Luckily it was reported after the match that the Mexican defender was going to be ok. The fans really got into it and started chanting for their fallen hero when they saw him being taken by the ambulance. The Xolos had no more substitutions and were left with only eight players on the pitch after the injury to Yasser Corona. After what seemed like an eternity, the match finally came to a close and the Xolos found a way to win despite all odds against them.
The match was a great test for the Xolos. They really showed that they are an amazing team that can overcome improbable odds. Correcaminos UAT coach Jaime Ordiales put it kindly, saying, “We faced one of the best home teams in Mexican soccer”. The match was filled with excitement for being a Copa Corona MX game, which are usually characterized by dull encounters with predictable results. The favorites (Xolos) did come out on top in this game, but they had to struggle and play with three fewer players during the dying minutes of the match. It will be interesting to see how the red cards will affect future Copa MX matches and also seeing how Yasser Corona recovers from this one. Fuerza Tijuas!