After collecting four league wins in a row, Tijuana unexpectedly stumbled last Friday in the 2-1 loss at home against Necaxa.
Despite the fact Xolos dominated possession, and had more attacking opportunities, manager Miguel “Piojo” Herrera wasn’t able to find the back of the net until the 95th minute of the match. The goal, scored by newcomer Juan Martin Lucero, was too little too late for the bordertown club that wasn’t as effective in the attack as Necaxa.
Following the defeat, Tijuana moved down one spot to second place in the league standings.
Here are three Xolos talking points from last week’s match:
1. Tijuana failed to capitalize on numerous chances
Looking at the stats, one would guess that Xolos should have been able to find the back of the net more than once on Friday.
Herrera’s men finished the clash with 14 shots, 65% possession and over the double the amount of passes that Necaxa had amassed. Yet, despite these positive numbers, it was quite obvious that Tijuana constantly faltered in front of net.
Coupled with a great performance by Necaxa goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero, Xolos weren’t able to find a single goal until the very last minute of the game.
Should Tijuana fans be worried? Luckily, a few new faces who were substituted in the second half proved to be promising options going forward for Herrera.
2. Pisano and Lucero nearly earned the draw
Newcomers Matias Pisano and Lucero were excellent in their cameo appearance last Friday.
Lucero, who was substituted in during the 69th minute, made an immediate impact with his shots and crosses for Tijuana. The high-pressing striker was eventually rewarded for his work rate with a late goal in the match.
As for Pisano, although the attack-minded midfielder wasn’t introduced until the 82nd minute, the 25-year-old stood out with his distribution and dangerous shot on target.
The two aforementioned players will need more time to adjust, but on Friday, both showcased the abilities to be highly influential options off the bench.
3. The 4-4-2 experiment might be over
Following a knock to starter Michael Orozco, Herrera decided to bring in backup Juan Carlos Nuñez in his place. With Nuñez in the lineup, the manager ditched his 5-2-3/3-4-3 formation for a 4-4-2 last Friday.
Although Xolos were able to create plenty of attacking chances, especially on the right flank, the recent loss might convince the manager to go back to his previous setup.
This all depends on the fitness of Orozco, or the trust that Herrera has for another backup central defender in his roster. Ideally, that would be Yasser Corona, but the 29-year-old is still recovering from his neck injury suffered last month.
Xolos man of the match — Joe Corona
Corona was brilliant for Tijuana last Friday. The midfielder was near-perfect with his passing and was vital in the creation of numerous attacking plays. Late into the game, Corona also provided a highlight-worthy shot which almost sneaked past Barovero in net.
It’s also important to note the partnership that he has created with fellow central midfielder, Guido Rodriguez. With Rodriguez taking charge as the more defensive-minded midfielder, Corona is given the freedom to move forward with the ball.
Player interview — Paul Arriola
On the issues that Tijuana faced last Friday:
“I think some games you aren’t able to put the ball in the back of the net, and that’s how it went today,” said Arriola. “It’s tough to really blame the team on the second goal [by Necaxa], but obviously on the first goal there was a lack of concentration. Of course, it feels bad. Especially after the first half with all of the chances we had to finish the game and get on the board.”
On his favored position in Herrera’s formations:
“I think each position has its benefits and disadvantages,” stated the Chula Vista native.
“Today, I did play as a right mid. We played a 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2, depends on how you see it. I had a little more energy throughout the game because I don’t have to come back all the way if we would have had a [defensive] line of five.
Each position has its advantages. For instance, as a right wing-back, I’m able to receive the ball a lot more going forward, with a lot more space. As a right wing-back I usually have a little space in between an outside midfielder and the defender because no one really knows who should pick that guy up.
As a right midfielder, like I said, you don’t have to come back all the way. You have a little more energy to give forward, but as a right midfielder you have to give a little more, you have to be more effective than I was today. That’s on me.”
On being able to play alongside fellow America, Joe Corona:
“Right now we are carpooling because my car doesn’t have SENTRI on it yet. The chemistry with us is awesome. Obviously Michael [Orozco] wasn’t able to be on the field today but the three of us, we are really going strong on the right side” said Arriola.
“I think we all feel really comfortable around each other and I think it’s showing on the field.”