The Tijuana Xolos played to a very hard-fought 2-1 win against Atletico San Luis at the Estadio Caliente this Sunday, Oct. 8.
Miguel Herrera made two changes to the lineup he previously used against Santos Laguna, replacing Eduardo Armenta and Daniel Vazquez with Carlos Gonzalez and Domingo Blanco. Blanco was receiving his first start of the season, while Carlos Gonzalez was coming back into the starting 11 after being out the last game due to a red card suspension.
Club Tijuana started the match with a pair of long-shot attempts that almost made it in the back of the net. First, in the third minute of the match, Carlos Gonzalez pinged a shot that hit the post and went to the left and out of play. In the ninth minute, Fernando Madrigal released a shot that made San Luis goalkeeper Diego Urtiaga struggle as he mishandled the ball off the strike, and the sphere nearly landed in the back of the net.
The first goal of the night came in the 18th minute for the Xoloitzcuintles when Alejandro Martinez scored in spectacular fashion on a counterattack off a corner kick. Martinez made an impressive starting from before the halfway point, then finished the opportunity perfectly with an across-the-body shot.
Club Tijuana had less of the ball in the first 45 minutes but had much more scoring opportunities than the visitors. The first half ended 1-0 in Xolos’ favor, with a very hopeful performance by the Prehistoric Dogs at the Mictlan.
The second half of the match was much more lively than the first half and did not disappoint in the slightest, starting with a very controversial decision in the 49th minute when a goal by Lucas Rodriguez was disallowed by VAR. The goal came off a shot outside of the box but was disallowed due to a clash between Carlos Gonzalez and San Luis goalkeeper Diego Urtiaga on the play previous to the goal.
After the disallowed goal, Atletico San Luis kept on persisting with several solid scoring opportunities. The visitor’s first and only goal of the night came in the 66th minute via a shot inside of the box by Leo Bonatini. Jurgen Damm crossed the ball into the penalty area, Mateo Kilmowicz headed the ball, but Antonio Rodriguez made a stunning save; Bonatini then shot on the rebound, as Rodriguez made another save, but off the rebound of the second save, Bonatini was there to score.
Club Tijuana was able to take back their lead in the 74th minute when Carlos Gonzalez scored his eighth goal of the season. Lucas Rodriguez passed the ball to Eduardo Armenta on the edge of the right side of the penalty area. Armenta crossed the ball to Gonzalez, and the Paraguayan striker was there to score. “Cocoliso” showed his persistence on the play as he fell to the ground on the first-touch but then somehow found a way to push the ball into the back of then net on the ground.
After Tijuana’s second goal, it was a masterclass display by Antonio Rodriguez in net, as he made three key saves to help earn the three points from the game. The first save by the Mexican shot-stopper came in the 77th minute when he stopped a shot from outside of the box by Dieter Villalpando.
In the 78th minute, Jurgen Damm had a golden opportunity to draw the game with a shot from inside of the box, but Rodriguez was there again to deny San Luis. The 31-year-old goalkeeper made his final stop in the 89th minute off a long-range shot by Vitinho, which was the visitor’s final punt of the night.
The win was an important one for Club Tijuana, who are now in seventh place with 17 points after this win. The Aztec Canines are on a massive five-game undefeated streak at the Estadio Caliente and have now won three consecutive games at home.
The Xoloitzcuintles’ offense was vibrant in this match, much like the previous home match against FC Juarez that resulted in a 5-1 win. However, the star of the night for the border city team was goalkeeper Antonio Rodriguez, who finished the match with ten saves, including seven saves from inside of the box.
Xolos’ manager, Miguel Herrera, talked about Antonio Rodriguez in the post-game press conference. “He has been having an extraordinary tournament; he is on the level to be called up to the Mexican national team; he’s one of the best Mexican goalkeepers in the league,” Herrera said.
San Luis manager Gustavo Leal talked about the match in the post-game press conference. “It was a game where we made key errors, and we didn’t put in the ones we had to, “Leal said. Miguel Herrera did mention that the team “knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” and it was not, but the three points from the match were earned in an important stage of the season.
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.