Game: Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente vs. Club de Fútbol Monterrey
Date: Friday, August 4th
Time: 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 9:00 p.m. Central, 7:00 p.m. Pacific, 2:00 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Caliente (Tijuana, B.C.)
Tijuana (0W 2L 0D) picked up their first win of the Eduardo Coudet era against Puebla in the Copa MX tournament this past Tuesday. They’ll need to step it up a notch against Monterrey (1W 0L 1D), who come to Estadio Caliente with Aviles Hurtado - Tijuana’s leading scorer from the 2017 Clausura. Even though they’ve only scored one goal in Liga MX play so far, Hurtado, Rogelio Funes Mori, and Dorlan Pabon form a three-headed attack for Monterrey that should strike fear into any defense.
Tijuana looked much better against Puebla than they had against anyone else so far this season. The club looked more organized and cohesive - a basic element that was sorely lacking during the club’s first two games. The club also got a boost from right wing Paul Arriola, who returned from Gold Cup play with the United States. His creativity down the right side was a vast improvement over Mauricio Cuero, who disappeared for long stretches during the club’s match against Cruz Azul as well as Matias Pisano, who looked like a square peg in a round hole against Necaxa. Arriola and Hurtado developed a great chemistry and understanding when Hurtado was with Xolos, so it may be just a matter of time for him and Juan Lucero to develop that same understanding.
Another highlight of the Puebla match was the play of Antonio Rodriguez. I’ll preface this by saying I’m a big believer in Gibran Lajud - I think he’s got a tremendous upside, and when is on his game he’s got the potential to go very far - but his play in the first two matches should see Tono given the nod in goal. Lajud has made errors that have just killed Xolos, and maybe watching Tono start in his place will spur him on to get things figured out. Having two very good young goalkeepers is a great problem to have, though.
This should be a great game between two clubs that have the potential to play much better than their recent scorelines indicate. Whoever can put it all together the fastest will come out on top.