Tijuana playing for pride at Puebla

Tijuana playing for pride at Puebla

There’s reason for optimism again at Club Tijuana. Former Mexico manager Miguel Herrera is taking over the team, bringing with him parts of a coaching staff that helped El Tri win the Gold Cup.

But that’s not until 2016.

In the present, Tijuana has gone seven matches without a victory, losing five straight, and already is eliminated from the Liguilla. With two matches remaining, the Xolos are simply playing for pride.

“For us, it’s very important to leave everything on the field in this last part of the tournament,” Chula Vista native and Tijuana midfielder Alejandro Guido said. “We must defend the shirt and try to get these six points.”

Tijuana also can play the spoiler role with Puebla, where fired Tijuana coach Rumen Omar Romano struggled in recent years, in the hunt for a postseason spot.

There’s a logjam at that end of the table, with two teams tied with Puebla on 23 points. Tijuana’s defense will face a stern test from Luis Gabriel Rey; the veteran Colombian forward who has experience with several Liga MX clubs and leads Puebla with seven goals this season.

Tijuana has its own Colombian leading scorer in Dayro Moreno, but the forward has had a frustrating run lately. He’s gone a month without scoring a goal, with his October 3 tally against Queretaro the most recent strike. Like Guido, Moreno is hoping Tijuana is able to close the season on a high.

“We still have two matches, we want to get six points,” he said, “but we’re going step by step and thinking first in the game against Puebla.

“It’s going to be an important match for us and we hope to make the fans happy.”

Though postseason play won’t happen, Tijuana could bring a little bit better feelings to fans on the border if interim coach Raul Chabrand’s men find success in this match and the next. If not, fans can still be excited about Herrera’s imminent arrival.

“He’s a manager who knows a lot because in addition to being a champion with the national team, it’s not easy to go out as the champion with a team like America,” Moreno said of the arriving manager. “He’s a manager that teaches the most possible, works really well. Hopefully the group and the fans we all compliment each other to reach the goals that we might set.”

But first comes Puebla. Tijuana faces off against La Franja on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. PST.