It’s fascinating to see how quickly things have changed for Tijuana over the past couple of months.
Following an exit from the semifinals of the Clausura playoffs, key components of the roster were then dropped during June 7th’s Liga MX draft. Guido Rodriguez, Milton Caraglio, Aviles Hurtado and Carlos Vargas were the biggest names that Xolos gave away.
Those departures, coupled with the fact that manager Miguel “Piojo” Herrera moved back to Club America, made it difficult to feel particularly confident about Club Tijuana. After a revitalization project that carried Xolos to back-to-back finishes at first place in the regular season, Tijuana appeared destined to once again struggle after the initial transfers.
That is, until the reinforcements arrived.
— @Xolos_En (@xolos_en) July 6, 2017
After announcing that Eduardo “Chacho” Coudet would replace Herrera as manager, Xolos later presented eight new intriguing and talented names that suddenly made the squad appear as a playoff-worthy roster.
Of the eight, it could be argued that Gustavo Bou, Enzo Kalinski, Damian Musto, Alejandro Donatti, Mauricio Cuero and Matias Aguirregaray are already set to be starters for the club. From those names, Bou stands out the most if you believe the hype that has surrounded the player.
Depending on who you ask, or what you read, many see the 27-year-old Argentine as a powerful and creative striker with excellent finishing abilities. After rumors of interest from Europe, Bou might turn out to be one of the best Liga MX signings of the summer.
Speaking of the summer, although the competition wasn’t exactly fierce, Tijuana remained undefeated after taking part in three preseason friendlies. It’s also worth noting that the roster was able to avoid defeat without the likes of Joe Corona and Paul Arriola, who are currently both busy with Gold Cup duty for the USMNT.
— @Xolos_En (@xolos_en) July 15, 2017
As for Coudet, there’s something promising from the manager who has had no qualms discussing his attack-minded style. Words like “dynamic” and “intense” have been regularly used by the Argentine to describe his style of play. Despite the fact that this will be the first time that he has coached in the Mexican first division, the 42-year-old’s approach should work well in the high-pressing and attacking league.
Believe it or not, after the departures of Rodriguez, Hurtado and Herrera, Xolos are just as strong as they were last season. What that means for the organization, whether it’s fair or not, is that expectations will remain high.
With added depth in a number of positions, Coudet will be expected to carry the squad back to the playoffs. A title is perhaps out of the question when you consider some of the competition, but at the least, the manager has a roster that is capable of a top eight finish.
Following a massive change in not only the roster, but also management, it will be compelling to see if Tijuana will maintain the same momentum from the past year. Be sure to keep an eye on Friday night’s season-opener for Xolos at home against Cruz Azul.
Position in league table: 5th
Top goalscorer: Bou
Most used starting XI (4-4-2): Gibran Lajud, Matias Aguirregaray, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Alejandro Donatti, Damian Perez, Paul Arriola, Enzo Kalinski, Damian Musto, Ignacio Malcorra, Juan Martin Lucero, Gustavo Bou.