Thanks to a brace from striker Henry Martin, and a late goal from substitute Edgar Lopez, Tijuana walked away from Wednesday night’s friendly against
Thanks to a brace from striker Henry Martin, and a late goal from substitute Edgar Lopez, Tijuana walked away from Wednesday night’s friendly against Atlas with a 3-1 victory.
The match, which was held in San Diego’s Mesa College, marked the only opportunity for Xolos manager Miguel “Piojo” Herrera to test out his new options before the start of the 2017 Clausura. With the upcoming season set to start next week, Herrera experimented with his roster and usual tactics.
Through an atypical 4-4-2 formation, the manager gave the start to new and back-up options like Juan Pablo Meza, Gibran Lajud, Luis Chavez, Paul Arriola and Martin.
Martin was by far the best of the bunch and was also the man of the match with his two goals for Tijuana. After some injury problems in 2016, the 24-year-old appears back to full health and ready to fight for a starting role in the Clausura.
Arriola stood out as well with his dangerous runs and incessant amount of energy on the right flank. The American’s pace is well-needed in Tijuana, but the question remains if Herrera sees the winger as a starter in 2017.
Others like Guido Rodriguez and substitute Joe Corona were also noteworthy on Wednesday. While Rodriguez was key with his distribution and interceptions in the midfield, Corona was effective with his movement on the ball and intelligent passing.
As for match itself, Xolos must be given credit for bouncing back after allowing an early goal from Atlas in the fourth minute. Tijuana struggled during most of the first 45 minutes, and by the time the halftime whistle blew, Los Zorros were unlucky to not have a two-goal lead over Xolos.
Following the halftime interval, Tijuana hit the ground running and had little trouble stealing possession away from Atlas. Despite the fact that Herrera eventually sent in every single player on his bench in the last 45 minutes, Xolos found a way to regroup with the constant changes during the second half.
In the 56th minute, Tijuana equalized the scoreline with a headed goal from Martin off a well-timed pass from Moreno. The goal propelled Xolos forward and clearly helped the morale of the local side that looked lost for most of the first half.
Unfortunately, near the 66th minute, Atlas’ Diego Cruz suffered an injury after crashing into John Requejo. The player was eventually taken off the field in an ambulance, and following a short five to 10 minute break, the match continued.
Atlas, like Tijuana in the first half, crumbled under the attacking pressure from the opposition near the end of the friendly. Xolos controlled the momentum and found two more goals from Martin and Lopez during the last ten minutes of the game. With little time for their rivals to respond, Tijuana finished Wednesday’s friendly with a convincing 3-1 win.
Following the victory, Soccer Nation caught up with Corona, who recently returned to Xolos after a stint with Dorados and Veracruz.
“It was fun, I was very happy to be back,” said the midfielder. “My first friendly, my first game with Tijuana again. I felt pretty good, I think it was very useful for the team, it’s the only friendly we got in the preseason. Now we are looking forward to start the season.”
Looking ahead to 2017, the American was very clear about his goals.
“Just to try to help the team as much as I can, try to earn Miguel Herrera’s confidence and, of course, score some goals. Hopefully get back onto the national team.”
“In the past year, I’ve been playing in the middle, as a ‘6,’ and right now coming into Xolos I’ve been playing out wide,” stated the midfielder. “I’m familiar with both positions and I’m pretty used to them so wherever they play me, I’ll be happy.”
Corona and company will have a little over a week to prepare for their first match of the Clausura against Morelia on January 7th.