Game: Club Atlético Monarcas Morelia vs. Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente
Date: Tuesday, October 24th
Time: 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Central, 5:00 p.m. Pacific, 12:00 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Morelos (Morelia, Mich.)
The Apertura 2017 Copa MX Round of 16 was originally scheduled to happen on September 19th, however the 2017 Mexico City earthquake made soccer - and much everything else - secondary to relief and recovery efforts. 369 people perished in the disaster, and the entire world hurt for Mexico and her people.
Life continues on however, and fútbol is both a healing element as well as a return to normalcy after such a horrific trauma. When Liga MX returned, it was an emotional event on both sides of the border. We knew that things could be all right again.
Copa MX returns this week after the hiatus, with the Round of 16 going forward as planned. Tijuana heads to Morelia to face Monarcas, who won their September 29th Liga MX clash on the night soccer returned to Mexico. Xolos saw Emanuel Aguilera sent off in the 16th minute for his second yellow card, and two goals by Diego Valdés bookending a Rodlofo Vilchis golazo in a 3-0 rout.
Xolos will most likely look to rest their first team, who will play their fourth game in just eleven days (with a fifth coming up on Saturday in Guadalajara against Chivas). Do not be surprised to see a completely different starting XI than the one that lost 1-0 to Atlas on Friday night. Players like Joe Corona, Enzo Kalinski, Alejandro Guido, Luis “Quick” Mendoza, and perhaps even Toño Rodríguez could see extended minutes against Morelia.
Monarcas should not take Xolos lightly - even if they only show up with their bench options. Morelia has the luxury of also getting in an extra day’s rest before their game against Toluca, and they’ve already proven they can go toe-to-toe with Xolos once already this season. The aforementioned duo of Valdés and Vilchis as well as the club’s leading scorer Raúl Ruidíaz will test Xolos’ defenses.
Copa MX though is always full of surprises, and with so many variables in squad selection you never know who will show up - literally or figuratively. Hopefully, the predictable unpredictability of the Copa MX will help with the return to normalcy in Mexico.