The Tijuana Xolos played their fifth game in the Liga MX 2023 Apertura season this Friday, Aug.25, against Mazatlan FC. The game was a lackluster display by both sides in what was the first game at the Estadio Caliente in about a month.
Miguel Herrera made two changes to the lineup that lost 1-0 to Chivas midweek, benching Lucas Cavallini and Ivan Tona and starting Alejandro Martinez and Rodrigo Godinez. Cavallini had picked up a red card in the game against Chivas, but the decision was overturned after an appeal by Club Tijuana.
Lucas Rodriguez picked up an injury just seven minutes into the match, as Eduardo Armenta came in to replace the Argentine playmaker. The first half was a rather slow-paced 45 minutes, despite there being a goal from each side in it. The first goal of the game came in the 13th minute when Luis Amarilla scored off a bizarre play inside of Tijuana’s penalty area. Amarilla somehow came into contact with a ball in the air after a deflection off teammate Nicolas Benedetti.
Mazatlan opened the scoring but was not very concerned about generating offense after that first goal scored. There were several boos and jeers heavily present around the Estadio Caliente after that first goal by Mazatlan, directed at the Club Tijuana players.
The Xoloitscuintles responded with a goal of their own in the 25th minute when Carlos Gonzales tied up the game. Gonzalez scored with a shot from inside of the penalty area after an impressive run and assist by Kevin Castaneda. There was not much to report after the goal by “Cocoliso” in what was a lackluster opening 45 minutes of play at the Mictlan.
The second half was somehow worse than the first half, with both teams combining for no shots on target. The match lacked creativity from either team and lacked rhythm, with several fouls stopping the running play of the game. There was no fluidity in this match that seemed to be from a much lower tier of soccer than Mexico’s top-flight division.
Miguel Herrera tried to create change by bringing on Lucas Cavallini and Alan Vega in the 65th minute, but none of the changes “Piojo” made made any sort of impact on the match. Cavallini had a shot sail past the crossbar upon stepping onto the field, but he seemed frustrated after that, failing to get past Mazatlan’s backline.
The match ended 1-1; fans jeered and booed at the sound of the final whistle, clearly frustrated from the low-caliber product that was seen on the pitch. Miguel Herrera asked for “patience” from the Xolos fans in the post-game press conference and said that he wants the fans to “go home happy from the stadium.”
Herrera emphasized that the team is lacking “goals” the most and needs to work the most in the “final third of the pitch.” “We have struggled at home most of all,” Herrera said. Club Tijuana has historically made the Estadio Caliente a fortress in the Liga MX and one of the toughest places to play. However, the team has lost that edge in recent tournaments, which has cost the team making the playoffs for several seasons.
The Xolos will play against Puebla in Puebla this next Friday, Sept.1, in what is set to be a tough away game for the Border City Dogs. The Xoloitzcuintles are winless in their last four games in all competitions and need to desperately find a win soon.
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.