Game: Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente vs. Club Atlético Monarcas Morelia
Date: Friday, March 16th
Time: 11:00 p.m. Eastern, 10:00 p.m. Central, 8:00 p.m. Pacific, 3:00 a.m. UTC (Times listed are for the United States, who changed to Daylight Saving Time last week. Mexico is one hour behind per time zone.)
Venue: Estadio Caliente (Tijuana, B.C.)
Referees: REF: Roberto Rios Jácome, AR1: José Luis Camargo Callado, AR2: Christian Kiabek Espinosa Zavala, 4TH: Eduardo Galvan Basulto
Television: United States - Univision Deportes Network; Mexico - Azteca 7, Sky HD, SKY Planeta Fútbol
All-time record: Tijuana has beaten Monarcas four times, while losing five against Morelia. The clubs have drawn four times as well. While Tijuana has lost the last two by the combined score of 5-0, Tijuana also won the last contest at Estadio Caliente 2-0 in the 2016 Apertura.
It hasn’t been easy for Club Tijuana (4W 4D 3L) lately. The club bowed out of the Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals to Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls, losing 5-1 on aggregate and becoming the first to lose to an MLS side since the Montreal Impact defeated Pachuca in the 2014-15 Quarterfinals and the first to lose to a United States-based club since Tigres lost to the Seattle Sounders in the 2012-13 Quarterfinals. They also lost to Tigres in their last Liga MX match at El Volcán 1-0 on an André-Pierre Gignac golazo.
They return home with making the Liga MX Liguilla clearly in their sights, currently sitting seventh in the table with 16 points, 7 behind leaders Santos Laguna (7W 2D 2L). It’s also worth noting that in their last two Liga MX games at Estadio Caliente, Xolos have outscored their opponents by a score of 7-2. In those games, their once-dormant offense come to life on the backs of good performances by Mateus Gonçalves in the 4-1 win over Pumas (4W 3D 4L) and José Alberto “Beto” García in the 3-1 win over Lobos BUAP (2W 2D 7L).
Xolos issue however has been inconsistency. While Gonçalves and Beto each had individual standout performances in those games, they have not been able to replicate those performances on more than one occasion let alone a consistent basis. With the distraction of the Concacaf Champions League over and the squad (mostly) getting healthy, hopefully some consistency will re-appear.
Both Juan Martín Lucero and Ignacio “Nacho” Malcorra saw significant minutes in the loss on Tuesday to the New York Red Bulls in New Jersey, indicating both players should be available for selection against Monarcas. Alejandro Guido will not be available for selection however, picking up a red card against Tigres last week. Juan Carlos “Topo” Valenzuela is questionable for selection having rolled his ankle in the match against the Red Bulls, while Gustavo “Pantera” Bou is doubtful. Pantera hasn’t been in the eighteen since getting injured on February 17 against Pumas, however he is expected to return from injury sooner rather than later.
Monarcas Morelia (6W 1D 4L) has won their last two Liga MX games, however their only road win of the season was a 3-2 win over Pachuca (4W 2D 5L) back on February 3. Raúl Ruidíaz leads Morelia with five goals, however seven other players have contributed goals on the season as well. Diego Valdés and Rodolfo Vilchis are huge parts of the Morelia offense, with Vilchis contributing a goal and two assists in Liga MX play this season. Tijuana’s center backs and defensive midfielder Damián Musto will have their hands full with the Morelia offense.
On the other side of the ball, Tijuana gets a bit of a break with center back Emanuel Loeschbor being suspended for picking up a red card in the last match against Veracruz (2W 3D 6L). Look for Chilean Sebastián Vegas or Mexican Jorge Valadéz to get the start for Loeschbor.