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Tijuana’s season more than just wins and losses

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Los Xolos flourished under extraordinary circumstances in the 2017 Clausura.

Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente press release

Tijuana’s 2017 Clausura was a wild ride - predictably unpredictable. The club lost their leading goalscorer when Dayro Moreno went on loan to Atletico Nacional in Colombia, and lost their top goalkeeper Federico Vilar when he retired at the end of the Apertura. The club also lost Yasser Corona to a freak spinal cord injury during the Copa MX. Any one of these things would have sunk a team.

Yet Tijuana had all of these - and more - happened within the span of the past six months. And yet they persisted, capturing the superlider for the second straight time - a feat unmatched by any other club since Liga MX split the year into two seasons. Tijuana advanced to the semifinals of the Liguilla and the Copa MX.

The team had plenty of individual successes as well. Aviles Hurtado lead the league in goals for a good part of the season, only dropping to second behind Raul Ruidiaz in the last match of the season. Hurtado also wound up third in assists, contributing to or scoring 13 of Tijuana’s 30 goals.

Rookie goalkeeper Gibran Lajud was tied for second in Liga MX in shutouts, and grew into the role as the season went on. His play in the Liguilla was one of the reasons Tijuana got as far as they did.

The youth movement in Tijuana is underway - and promising. 22 year old Paul Arriola saw significant playing time, garnering call-ups to the United States National Team in the process. 23 year old Guido Rodriguez also got a national team call up with his native Argentina. 24 year old Henry Martin saw quality playing time in the Liguilla, and 26 year old Joe Corona was a fixture in the Xolos midfield, and could return to the United States National Team this summer. 21 year olds Luis Chavez and Hiram Munoz as well as 18 year old Carlos Vargas also saw playing time, with Munoz having a phenomenal game against Andre-Pierre Gignac in the second leg of the Liguilla against Tigres.

Naturally there is a lot of uncertainty heading into the offseason. Miguel Herrera is rumored to be headed to Club America, possibly taking Guido Rodriguez with him (unless of course Rodriguez is sold to any of the other teams rumored to be interested in him). There’s often roster churn from year to year on any Liga MX club, and it’ll be interesting to see who returns for the 2017 Apertura. But for now, Xolos - and the fans - should take a minute to reflect on a very special season.