The Tijuana Xolos played Toronto FC on Wednesday in an exhibition/friendly match at USD Torero Stadium in San Diego.
Right around the same time at this game, Mexico was playing Bosnia in San Antonio, which really drove away a lot of attention from this match.
Mexico defeated Bosnia 1-0, and this game between the team south of the border and the team north of the border really proved to be a spectacular clash that outdid the Mexico friendly.
Diego Cocca took this game as an opportunity to really give playing time to experienced bench players and some youth academy players as well.
The starting lineup consisted of Luis Michel, Hiram Munoz, Fernando Arce, Luis Martinez, Raul Sandoval, Alejandro Guido, Mateus Goncalves, Luis Angel Mendoza, Alejandro Diaz, Miler Bolanos, and Alberto Garcia. The first team players were Michel, Munoz, Arce, Guido, Goncalves, Mendoza, Bolanos, and Garcia, while the rest were from the youth squads.
Another interesting thing to note was that Alejandro Guido wore the captain’s armband for the match. Toronto FC presented a potent lineup that featured players like Victor Vazquez, Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore, and Michael Bradley.
18’ ¡SEBASTIAN GIOVINCO! ?
Xolos 1-1 Toronto F.C. pic.twitter.com/9klwFDe7Oi
— Brenda Alvarado (@brendalvarado94) February 1, 2018
The atmosphere at the intimate Torero Stadium was vivid as fans from both sides of the border made it an enjoyable and memorable experience. Some fans from Club Tijuana’s barra “La Masakr3” even made the trip and brought along drums and trumpets to make it feel as if it were the Estadio Caliente. The action started quickly as Miller Bolanos opened the score in just the second minute of the match. The Canadian team responded quickly with Sebastian Giovinco’s first goal of the night. The Italian forward scored a spectacular free kick goal to tie the game at one in the 19th minute. The Reds carried that momentum as Marky Salgado made it a 2-1 game just three minutes after Giovinco’s goal.
Luis Michel had a very impressive game and had some key saves that impeded Toronto from coming away with a more convincing result. The first key save came in the 28th minute as the Mexican keeper stopped a shot by Jozy Altidore. The 38-year-old then made another great save in the 36th minute, this time stopping Sebastian Giovinco from scoring after a shot by Jozy Altidore hit the post and Giovinco was clear on goal. The Aztec Canines would not go with a deficit heading into halftime as Miller Bolanos scored his second of the night just before the half to make it a 2-2 game. A cross found Luis Angel Mendoza, who shot towards Toronto’s net but Bolanos was right in the area to deflect the ball into the back of the net.
The first half was very exciting, and the second half would not disappoint as the game remained entertaining and intense. Sebastian Giovinco scored his second of the night just as the second half began and that would surprisingly be the winning goal in a match that went back and forth for most of the encounter. The game became heated as there was an altercation between Fernando Arce and Jozy Altidore shortly after Toronto manager Greg Vanney made 10 substitutions in the 60th minute. A completely new Toronto FC side was on the pitch after that without its stars.
One of the highlights tonight. Toronto keeper Alex Bono was red carded and defender Nick Hagglund had to play in net and pulled off this save. #TorontoFC #MLS #Xolos #LigaMXeng pic.twitter.com/FHUrVxVWZL
— Francisco Velasco (@FranciscoEfV) February 1, 2018
The game became very competitive as youngsters from both teams wanted to impress their managers in a very limited time frame. One of the best moments of the match came in the 87th minute as Toronto keeper Alex Bono received a red card for a handball outside of the penalty area. Defender Nick Hagglund put on Bono’s jersey and gloves and had to play in net as the Xolos had a golden opportunity to tie the game with a free kick. Hagglund did the unthinkable and stopped the potent free kick strike,emerging as the hero for the Reds in the game.
The Xoloitzcuintles ended up losing the game 3-2, but there was nothing to complain about as the match was very entertaining and definitely exceeded expectations. It was very impressive that in the first half, the bench players and youngsters on Club Tijuana managed to have a very competitive showing against the MLS Cup Champions. Some players like Fernando Arce, Alex Guido, and Miller Bolanos, definitely stood out. The Xolos will now have a tough task on the weekend in the Liga MX as the border city team will travel to Torreon to face Santos Laguna this Saturday.