One down, two to go.
Although Club Tijuana’s 0-0 draw against Monterrey on Saturday wasn’t the most exciting result, it was an important one for manager Miguel “Piojo” Herrera.
With a vital Copa MX match set for Wednesday, and a following Liga MX game against Pachuca scheduled for this Saturday, the manager will have taken part in a total of three matches in just seven days. It’s also important to point out that the three aforementioned games are also all away for Tijuana. Recognizing this, Saturday’s hard-fought draw might even be seen as a good result.
Despite the fact that Xolos’ defense is arguably the weak-point in the roster, Herrera’s backline was near-perfect against Los Rayados over the weekend. Juan Carlos Valenzuela and Yasser Corona, two Mexican central defenders who have had their deserved share of criticism in recent years, were excellent and effective. Valenzuela, who has truly stepped up for Herrera this season, was constantly seen clearing late opportunities from the home side that was hungry for a late game-winner.
However, the true man of the match was either defensive midfielder Guido Rodriguez or goalkeeper Federico Vilar. Rodriguez single-handedly controlled his area of the midfield and halted the creation of several attacking movements. Vilar, on the other hand, appeared 10 years younger with his high-flying saves that kept Monterrey scoreless.
The point gained was enough to help keep Tijuana at the top of the Liga MX league table for another week. Yet, before Xolos can begin reveling in the team’s current success, the roster will need to prepare for the upcoming game against Toluca on Wednesday night.
The domestic Copa MX competition isn’t the most exciting tournament to follow, but consider this: If Herrera and his men defeat Los Diablos Rojos, they will then be just four victories away from lifting a title this season. It’s all-or-nothing for Xolos during the mid-week competition. A win would secure a spot in the knockout round of the tournament and place them one step closer to what could be a first-ever Copa MX title. A draw, or a loss, would unfortunately leave Tijuana out of the running for a place in the Round of 16.
With a spot almost set in the Liga MX playoffs, a win this Wednesday against Toluca could put Los Xolos in the running for not only an Apertura title, but also a Copa MX championship. Herrera has the roster depth to chase both at the same time and will be keen on leaving the mid-week match with a victory in hand.
Other results from Week 8 of the 2016 Apertura
Veracruz 1-0 Pachuca
Los Tiburones Rojos sneaked past Pachuca at home with a narrow 1-0 victory. Despite the fact that Veracruz was able to beat last season’s champions, the team has still played underwhelming soccer for most of the Apertura.
Cruz Azul 3-4 America
Unpredictable Liga MX games don’t get more ridiculous than this. After Cruz Azul took a 3-0 lead by the 26th minute, America responded with four goals in the second half. The last two goals for Las Aguilas arrived during the 90th and 92nd minute. Incredible.
Morelia 0-2 Tigres
While French striker Andy Delort made his debut for the club, Tigres walked away with a 2-0 win against Morelia. Los Auriazules are still the only undefeated team in Mexico’s Liga MX.
Leon 4-1 Atlas
In typical Leon fashion, the club is either scoring or allowing several goals. This time it was the former and not the latter when Los Panzas Verdes dominated the visiting Atlas.
Necaxa 2-1 Santos Laguna
It’s difficult to say whether this result says more about the newfound momentum for Necaxa or the poor form that Santos Laguna is in. Either way, the three points gained has helped Los Rayos move away from the bottom of the relegation table.
Chivas 2-0 Chiapas
In a match which featured 26 shots from Los Rojiblancos, it might not be a stretch to say that the game could have finished with a 4 or 5-0 win for Chivas. As for Chiapas, manager Jose Cardozo was fired after the loss.
Pumas 4-1 Queretaro
Thanks to four goals, Pumas are once again appearing like a playoff team. Matias Britos and Pablo Barrera have both looked fantastic for the squad that rolled past Queretaro on Sunday morning.
Puebla 0-2 Toluca
Sunday was the Alfredo Talavera show for Toluca. The Mexican goalkeeper collected a total of 10 saves in net for Los Diablos Rojos and kept Puebla scoreless during the 2-0 victory on Sunday night.