Looking at some stats, it would be easy to assume that Club Tijuana is having a rough season.
Los Xolos have yet to win at home, have one of the league’s lowest averages of possession per game and have only scored 12 times in 11 matches.
During the recent 0-0 draw against Toluca, some of these problems were truly highlighted on the pitch. Xolos failed to take advantage of opportunities in front of net and were scoreless for the second time in three games. It was frustrating to watch and I can only imagine how difficult it was for die-hard fans who haven’t seen a win in the Estadio Caliente since November of last year.
All that being said, the team is still in a Liguilla-worthy spot at eighth place in the league. How is this possible?
Although Xolos have yet to find a win at home, their away form has been exceptional. In fact, with three wins and two draws, Tijuana is currently the best team in the league when it comes to away games. Another thing to not overlook is the defense. Up front, the squad has struggled to find the back of the net, but defensively, Xolos have been near-perfect.
With a backline led by Argentine Javier Gandolfi, the club has only allowed 11 goals in just as many matches. No other side in the league has allowed fewer goals. In net, goalkeeper Federico Vilar hasn’t given up more than one goal in a game since January.
It would be a stretch to say that Vilar is one of the best goalkeeper’s in the league, but there is no denying the fact that the 38-year-old has exceeded expectations.
One more stat to bring up is the fact that the squad has only lost once this season. Miguel Herrera’s men have been able to easily rack up numerous draws and the occasional win, but the last and only defeat arrived in January during the 3-1 loss to Santos Laguna.
Enough talk about stats, what does this all mean for Tijuana?
It means that if Xolos can improve in the attack slightly, the club might be on the cusp of finding their first win at the Estadio Caliente this Friday and more points during the rest of the season.
Looking at the frontline, the focal point in the Clausura has obviously been Dayro Moreno; with five goals, the Colombian is the current leading goal-scorer for the team. However, Moreno hasn’t scored in his last four games and will have more attacking responsibility with the injured Henry Martin now out for the season. Also, it must be noted that Moreno may be given a break during Friday’s game after recently making the the trip to South America for World Cup qualifiers for Colombia.
However, if Moreno can rediscover his goalscoring form in the next few matches, or if an option like Gabriel Hauche steps up with more chances of his own, the team could emerge as a dark horse in the Liguilla. I’m not saying that the club is a title-contender, but Xolos might be able to surprise fans in this Clausura if they are able to have more opportunities on net — only four other clubs have attempted fewer shots this season than Xolos.
After the international break, Friday’s game against Queretaro is a crucial match for Tijuana and a key opportunity for an attacking option to stand-out. A win at the Estadio Caliente would push away the pressures of finding the first win at home and potentially open up the floodgates for more victories in Tijuana. Intertwined with the highly-impressive away form, there would be no reason why the team wouldn’t solidify a spot in the playoffs.
However, if the team loses or walks away with another draw, confidence might continue to go down during a vital moment in the Clausura when points and momentum are needed for the Liguilla.
Luckily for Xolos fans, there is no reason why the team shouldn’t be able to beat Los Gallos Blancos. Queretaro hasn’t won a game since February 5th and has only amassed a total of nine points in 11 games. The three points are there for the taking, and if Herrera and company are able to do so, it could be the beginning of a great finish to the tournament for Tijuana.
Keep an eye on Los Xolos Friday night.