Club Tijuana 2-0 Toluca: Xolos secure a place in the 2017 Clausura playoffs

Club Tijuana 2-0 Toluca: Xolos secure a place in the 2017 Clausura playoffs

On Friday night, Tijuana took charge of the league table through an impressive 2-0 home win over Toluca. Thanks to goals from Joe Corona and Ignacio Malcorra, Xolos have not only stolen back a position at first place, but also guaranteed themselves an early spot in the playoffs.

With a place now reserved in the top eight of the tournament, Tijuana fans can rest easy knowing that Liga MX playoff soccer will return to the Estadio Caliente next month.

Here are three Xolos talking points from the recent victory.

1. Tijuana defense shines in another match without key players

No Emanuel Aguilera or Michael Orozco? No problem.

Despite the lack of serious experience from two starters, Xolos’ defense has once again been able to quiet any doubters. 18-year-old Carlos Vargas worked well with captain Juan Carlos Valenzuela in the middle of the backline, and at right-back, 21-year-old Hiram Muñoz was one of Tijuana’s best.

Muñoz did a fantastic job of shutting down Toluca’s attack while also connecting well with his passing to the midfield. In Xolos’ first goal of the game, the Mexican youngster was instrumental with his long cross that eventually led to the creation of Malcorra’s assist.

Some may point out that Toluca might not have been as proactive as expected in the attack, but when Los Diablos Rojos did occasionally pressure the home side, Tijuana was near-perfect in the backline.

2. Future problems for Milton Caraglio?

In the past, what has kept Caraglio in his starting role is a steady supply of goals and assists for the team. Despite criticism from those who don’t see the 28-year-old as a dynamic or mobile option in the attack, Caraglio tends to respond with vital and crucial moments that secure valuable points.

Unfortunately for the striker, he has now gone four matches without a goal or assist for Xolos.

When you look at Tijuana’s system, it’s easy to understand his role as a tough and stable figure surrounded by creative and quick distributors. Yet, when he doesn’t do much to help find the back of the net, it almost becomes understandable when he is benched in the second half for a more agile Juan Martin Lucero.

Can Caraglio hold onto his starting spot?

3. Corona’s exceptional season is rewarded with another goal

It’s difficult to find very many negatives about the American’s start to the year with Xolos. At times lost behind the deserved attention for Aviles Hurtado, Corona’s consistency and work-rate in the midfield can go unnoticed.

Against Toluca, the well-rounded central midfielder was compensated with a game-changing goal for Tijuana in the 72nd minute of the win.

Although it might be tough to break into a key role with the national team, one can’t help but wonder if Bruce Arena is keeping an eye on the 26-year-old who has helped lead Xolos to the playoffs.

Tijuana’s man of the match — Ignacio Malcorra

Muñoz is in the running, and so is Corona or Hurtado, but the recognition for Friday night’s best needs to be given to Malcorra. The winger provided a goal, assist and countless crosses from the left flank. In fact, it’s surprising that Malcorra didn’t finish the evening with two assists in the victory at the Estadio Caliente.

Postgame quotes — Joe Corona and Paul Arriola

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