In the current Liga MX schedule, there is rarely time for rest between the Apertura and Clausura tournaments. With the upcoming 2017 Clausura season set to begin on January 6th, Mexican clubs are currently scrambling to prepare for the start of the new year.
Xolos, who were recently knocked out of the quarterfinals of the Apertura playoffs last month, initiated the preseason with fitness and medical testing on Monday night in the Estadio Caliente. Luckily for supporters of the club, no news emerged regarding injuries for any member of Tijuana’s roster during the start of training.
A couple of days later, representatives from the organization took part in Wednesday and Thursday’s league drafts for the Liga MX and Ascenso. Xolos were especially quiet during the two days, making only a total of four transfers for the squad.
While only one player left the club on loan, Gabriel Hauche to Toluca, three others were added to the roster.
37-year-old Luis Michel officially joined Miguel “Piojo” Herrera’s side on Thursday, adding in more depth to the goalkeeping position. All signs seem to point to a starting role for Gibran Lajud in net for Tijuana, which means that Michel will likely be a back-up option in Copa MX matches.
After winning an Apertura title with Dorados in the Ascenso this year, Joe Corona has returned to Xolos for the upcoming Clausura tournament. The midfielder will have plenty of competition for a key role, but with Hauche now out of the picture, the American could prove to be an asset as an attacking midfielder.
Last but not least, Tijuana added defender Juan Pablo Meza during Thursday’s draft. Like Corona, Meza also recently had a starting spot with Dorados in the team’s recent title run. With some potential spots to fill in defense, the 23-year-old is a welcome addition to Herrera’s backline.
Is Tijuana’s roster now set? Not yet.
If Xolos ownership are eyeing players outside of Mexico, they must make a move before the deadline to register on January 31st. It’s also important to keep in mind that Juninho and Greg Garza are both rumored to be pushing for a move to MLS. “Rumored” is perhaps an understatement for Garza, who has openly admitted that he believes it is best to move north of the border.
Also, due to the delayed Apertura final, both Tigres and Club America will have more time to make some roster changes. At the moment, rumors have attached Tijuana’s Aviles Hurtado with a possible move to America, but there are no confirmations.
For those who are interested in the dates of Liga MX matches, the league recently released the full schedule for the 2017 Clausura. As seen on the list, the home opener for Herrera and company will be on January 13th against Puebla in the Estadio Caliente.
As for the Copa MX, Xolos will be in Group 1 along with two Ascenso sides: Cimarrones and Correcaminos. At time of writing, no dates have been released yet for the Copa MX schedule.
One more thing, if any San Diego fans are hoping to catch Tijuana before the start of the Clausura tournament, the squad will be taking on Atlas in a friendly on December 28th at San Diego Mesa College. Ticket information for the exhibition can be found here.
That’s it for now, I’ll be sure to bring more news and updates for the club once the next week rolls around.