Game: Tijuana Xolos vs Monarcas Morelia
When: Saturday Jan. 7
Time: 5 P.M. PST
Where: Estadio Morelos
The Tijuana Xolos have emerged as a relevant sports team in the San Diego area. Not everyone is a Soccer fan. But if you are, and if you live in San Diego, chances are that the Tijuana Xolos are a team that is close to your heart. With the Chargers most likely moving, the Xolos are now more than ever diving into the spotlight of San Diego area sports. The franchise is arguably one of the most successful in the area as well.
The Xolos came to birth in 2007. They, like most teams, did not start out in the top flight of Mexican soccer. The Xolos had to battle their way until finally reaching the Liga MX in 2011. After that, the Xolos found success quickly as they won their first Liga MX championship in 2012. The Xolos had a very successful campaign in the Apertura 2016 as they finished in first place. However, that was not enough to find success in the playoffs, as they were knocked out in the first round.
Their rival for this first week of the season, Monarcas Morelia, was not close to making the playoffs. Morelia finished in 13th place with just 20 points, 13 points behind the Tijuana Xolos in first place. Morelia are also one of the favorites to abandon the top flight of Mexican soccer. The team from Michoacan are dead last in the percentage which decides which team will go to the second flight of Mexican soccer. It also doesn’t help that their new head coach is Pablo Marini. The new coach has not been successful at all in his previous two stints with Liga MX clubs. You can even argue that he is the reason that Puebla FC and Veracruz find themselves in danger of dissolving into the second tier of Mexican soccer.
Xolos have been dominant in recent matchups against Monarcas Morelia. The last time Xolos lost to Morelia came in 2013, where the Monarchs took home two separate 2-1 victories over the course of the year. After 2013, the Xolos have dominated the team from Michoacan. The teams have tied just twice and Xolos have taken home four W’s. In their most recent matchup, the Xolos beat Morelia by a score of 2-0 at home in Tijuana. Los Xolos also took the most recent encounter of the two teams in the “Estadio Morelos” in Morelia. Tijuana beat Morelia by a score of 2-1 back in the Apertura 2015.
Players To Watch
Dayro Moreno ST-Xolos
Tijuana’s main man up top, Dayro Moreno. The top goal scorer of the most recent tournament is looking to reclaim his crown. He should be on to a quick start in Morelia. The last two encounters these two teams have had ended 2-0 and 1-1. Well guess who scored all three of Tijuana’s goals. Yes sir. It was none other than Colombian striker, Dayro Moreno. If that isn’t complete dominance of a team, I really don’t know what is. I expect the man who scored 12 goals last season to get at least his first for this season in this game.
Tijuana made a very peculiar move this off-season in signing 37-year-old goalkeeper, Luis Ernesto Michel. The Xolos already had a very young GK ready to start in 23-year-old Manuel Lajud. While it is still unclear who will be the starter this season, it will certainly be interesting to see who gets the nod to kick off this season. While Michel is far more experienced, he hasn’t played in the top flight of Mexican soccer in over a year. Lajud is clearly the wiser choice as I feel that it is his time to shine. Lajud had been under the shadow of Federico Vilar for a couple of seasons now. He clearly gotten some knowledge from the veteran keeper before his retirement. But who knows, we could be seeing experience outweigh potential in Miguel Herrera’s mind to kick off this season.
Raul Ruidiaz ST-Morelia
If anyone will score on Xolos this week it will be Raul Ruidiaz. The Peruvian striker was one of the most prominent forces in the Liga MX last season. The 5-foot-7 man, managed to be one of the most deadly strikers in the Liga MX, scoring 11 goals. Last season was the Peruvian striker’s first season in Mexico so he has yet to score against Tijuana. With the goalkeeper situation being shaky with Xolos, Ruidiaz could be finding the back of the net this weekend.
It’s safe to say that the Xolos are the favorites to take home the three points this week, however the Liga MX is among the most unpredictable leagues in the world. Any given week the top team can fall to a team like Monarcas Morelia. I feel like this will be an interesting game to kick off the Clausura 2017. A must-watch game for any soccer fan. I feel like Xolos do have the edge in many aspects of the game. One thing that they don’t have the edge in, however, is home field advantage. It is well-known that more so than in any other sport, in soccer, home field advantage can be the deciding factor. One big advantage for Xolos is their head coach, Miguel Herrera. Herrera is among the most respected coaches in the Liga MX. He is definitely far superior to Morelia’s, Pablo Marini. In my opinion, the game will end in a thrilling 3-1 victory for Xolos. Dayro Moreno will get on the scoring sheet twice and Argentine midfielder Guido Rodriguez will also sneak in a goal. For Morelia, Raul Ruidiaz will of course be the man who breaks the score for the home team. That is my verdict, but tune in on Saturday to see how your local soccer team does to kick off 2017. Fuerza Tijuas!