The soccer gods must be Club Tijuana fans.
During last Saturday’s away game against Pachuca, Xolos once again pulled off a surprise result through a late equalizer that secured a 2-2 draw against last season’s champions. Thanks to a deflection from Los Tuzos’ Omar Gonzalez off a free-kick, the own-goal in the 90th minute secured a last second point for the tired Tijuana roster.
As I’ve mentioned numerous times beforehand, the weekend’s match was the third away game in seven days for manager Miguel “Piojo” Herrera. Although some will feel a bit letdown by last Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to Toluca which knocked Xolos out of the Copa MX, Tijuana fans can still hold their heads high after watching their team gain draws in the two league matches against Monterrey and Pachuca.
Despite the fact that Xolos couldn’t gain a win, and were therefore knocked down to second place in the Liga MX table after Tigres’ victory, it’s important to also note the progress from Herrera’s squad through the 18 points gained so far in the 2016 Apertura.
Last season, after taking part in the 17 league games in the 2016 Clausura, Tijuana finished the tournament with a total of 18 points. Now, it’s taken them just a total of nine matches to reach that number. At this rate, they might even be able to double their success from the Clausura.
Xolos have not only emerged with crucial points after what was the busiest week of the year, but also with a spot in second place after a tough schedule to start the competition. Taking a look at the final eight games of the regular season, only America and Tigres look like real threats to the in-form Tijuana club. In fact, three of their last eight matches are against the current three worst teams in the league.
It’s foolish to make assumptions and guesses in Mexican soccer, especially in the highly unpredictable Liga MX, but one thing seems for sure: Whether in 1st or 8th place, Xolos are almost set to qualify for the playoffs.
Looking ahead, Tijuana will be one step closer to gaining a chance to fight for a title after taking on Queretaro at home this Wednesday night. If Xolos can gain three points, the Estadio Caliente should start preparing to once again host Liga MX playoff games.
After Saturday’s surprise draw, goalkeeper Federico Vilar summarized it best after he appeared to insinuate that the playoffs were just around the corner for Xolos.
“Other than winning, this is a good point,” said Vilar. “Knowing that we are a strong team that works hard to reach our objectives and that we are a developing team, is satisfying. We need to continue on this path because the toughest part is coming, and that’s good. We just need to prepare for it.”
Other results from Week 9 of the Apertura
Veracruz 1-3 Morelia
Raul Ruidiaz is proving to be one of the most important signings of the summer. After scoring twice for Morelia during last Friday’s victory over Veracruz, the Peruvian now has seven goals in his first Liga MX tournament.
Toluca 2-1 Chivas
Los Diablos Rojos snapped Chivas’ five-game undefeated streak with a narrow victory at home on Saturday afternoon. Despite the result, one of the talking points that emerged was newcomer Alan Pulido’s first league goal for Chivas.
Queretaro 1-0 Monterrey
Problems never cease to followi Monterrey. After being knocked out of the CONCACAF Champions League by Arabe Unido after last Wednesday’s 2-1 loss, Los Rayados once again found another defeat in Sunday’s narrow result against Queretaro.
Tigres 2-1 Puebla
Slowly, but surely, Tigres made their way to the top of the league table. Los Auriazules are still the only undefeated team in Mexico and have only allowed a total of four goals in nine matches.
Atlas 0-0 Necaxa
An underwhelming result that did little to help either side. While Necaxa is looking for more vital points to avoid relegation next year, Atlas is still attempting to find some consistency in the slow start to the Apertura.
Chiapas 0-3 Cruz Azul
Chiapas’ nightmare season continues. Los Jaguares only have one win in the tournament and are currently sitting at last place in the league table. As for Cruz Azul, La Maquina now has just one loss in the last five league matches.
America 0-2 Leon
Leon’s Mauro Boselli was efficient with his opportunities in net. Following some questionable decisions from America’s defense throughout the evening, the Argentine had no trouble scoring the two goals that clinched the win. America manager Ignacio Ambriz was later dropped from the team after the loss.
Santos Laguna 3-1 Pumas
Santos Laguna’s Jonathan Rodriguez looked like one of the best players of the weekend. The 23-year-old Uruguayan scored twice for Los Guerreros and helped carry the struggling club to an unexpected win against the visiting Pumas.