The Tijuana Xolos played their 15th game in the Liga MX Apertura 2017 this Saturday, October 28.
The Border City side traveled back to Guadalajara to face Chivas after facing Atlas in the same city last Friday. Going into the game, the Xoloitzcuintles were sitting in 10th place with 18 points, and that has remained the same after this match. However, certain results favored Club Tijuana going into the game as Atlas, who was in ninth place with 19 points, tied with Queretaro to get to 20 points. Eighth place Cruz Azul, who has 21 points, fell at home to Tigres UANL, but the Aztec Canines were unable to take advantage of these favorable results.
Eduardo Coudet went with his usual 5-3-2 formation with Gibran Lajud in net and Juan Carlos Nunez, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Alejandro Donatti, Emanuel Aguilera, and Damian Perez making up the defense. The midfield featured Ignacio Malcorra, Damian Musto, and Luis Angel Mendoza with Miller Bolaños and Gustavo Bou making up the strike force. There were only two modifications from the lineup “Chacho” presented against Atlas, with Juan Carlos Nunez filling in for Matias Aguirregaray in the right wing-back position and “Quick” Mendoza replacing Luis Chavez in the midfield. Chivas’ presented a dismantled lineup with three players that did not exceed the age of 21 and several key players on the bench. It seemed like Matias Almeyda was resting his best players like Rodolfo Pizarro and Orbelin Pineda for the Copa MX quarterfinals match against Atlante this Tuesday.
Everything seemed to be going in Club Tijuana’s favor to come away with the three points from the game without many complications. The game started promisingly with Miller Bolaños opening up the score in the sixth minute of the game. There was a beautiful string of passes that eventually found the Ecuadorian attacker inside the penalty box. Bolaños put the ball in the back of Rodolfo Cota’s net with ease, and everything seemed perfect for Eduardo Coudet’s side.
The team looked to have plenty of creativity going forward, especially with the inclusion of Mendoza in the midfield, but that also allowed there to be gaps within the team. Even with the five at the back formation, the defense looked off at the Estadio Chivas, particularly Damian Perez and Emanuel Aguilera, who were having a rough night. Carlos Fierro exposed that weakened left side and scored a goal in the 20th minute of the game to make it a 1-1 game.
This caused a massive momentum shift in the game. Then 18-year-old Jose Macias scored his first goal in the Liga MX and Chivas’ second of the night to make it a 2-1 game in the 37th minute. Macias released a very potent strike from just inside the penalty area and it was incredible that the Xolos’ defenders allowed the youngster enough space to release that shot.
Déjà Vu struck in the 55th minute as Jose Macias scored his second of the game, this time from a potent strike from outside the box. Again, the Xolos’ defenders did not close spaces and gave the 18-year-old too much space to position himself correctly and release the rocket. The score was now 3-1 and Eduardo Coudet immediately made some moves to try and claw back into the game. In the 60th minute, “Chacho” brought on midfielder Alejandro Guido in place of defender Emanuel Aguilera, and also brought on striker Juan Lucero for midfielder Luis Angel Mendoza.
As seen in previous games against Veracruz and Atlas, the Argentine manager was now going to push everyone forward to try and get at least a point from the game. Eduardo Coudet really pressed for the favorable result in the 69th minute as he replaced defender Juan Carlos Nunez for attacker Juan Manuel Iturbe. There was instantly a spark in the team as there were a few good opportunities for the border city side.
Hope was brought back for the Xolos in the 82nd minute of the game as a perfectly executed free kick by Gustavo Bou found Juan Lucero and the back of Chivas’ net. Hope was immediately lost as referee Fernando Hernandez decided to disallow the goal due to it allegedly being offside. Looking back on the play, no Xolos’ player was offside and the decision to disallow the goal was ridiculous as the goal had already been allowed and there is no video replay for referees in the Liga MX. After that bizarre ruling, the border city team seemed out of tune and played in uninspiring form until the final whistle. The call by Fernando Hernandez did impact the game, but that does not change the fact that the Xolos had a very poor performance. Coudet’s defense was especially concerning as it allowed far too much space to Chivas’ inexperienced players.
The Aztec Canines now have an extremely arduous road to making the Liga MX playoffs with only two games left in the competition. Los Xoloitzcuintles will host Leon in week 16 of the tournament and finish off the regular season with a road game against Toluca. Club Tijuana is currently in 10th place with 18 points, but must heavily rely on other teams not to win to earn a playoff spot.