Game: Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente vs. Club de Fútbol Monterrey
Date: Saturday, April 5th
Time: 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 9:00 p.m. Central, 7:00 p.m. Pacific, 2:00 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio BBVA Bancomer (Guadalupe, N.L.)
Series record: The clubs drew 1-1 at Estadio Caliente on Wednesday night. If the match ends in a draw, Rayados will advance due to their higher seeding. Away goals do not count.
It may seem like Monterrey is at the center of the Mexican sports universe at the moment. Reigning Liga MX champions Tigres hosted Santos Laguna in the first round of the Liguilla on Thursday night. Liga MX Femenil’s Final, a Clasico Regio between Tigres Femenil and Rayadas, with Tigres being crowned champions on Saturday night in front of over 51,000 people. Major League Baseball is also having a series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres at the Estadio de Béisbol Monterrey this weekend.
The final soccer match of the weekend in Monterrey will be the return leg of the series between Monterrey and Tijuana. While the hosts have a huge advantage at home, don’t expect Tijuana to roll over. Xolos did well to frustrate Monterrey in the first leg, playing a physical game and looking to hit Rayados on the counterattack.
Tijuana’s defense was solid in the first match, with the only goal for Rayados an absolute golazo from Dorlan Pabón.
Tijuana will have to balance their conservative, defensive play with the absolute need to score a goal. Someone - anyone - needs to step up and score for Xolos. Ignacio “Nacho” Rivero’s free kick in the 52nd minute was a stunner, but Tijuana has to be able to score from the run of play.
Rayados will need to learn to be patient and force Tijuana to make the move. Rayados only need to not concede for 90 minutes in order to move on to the next round. While they may not need to solely focus on defense, the home side should be selective in their opportunities and must convert any chances that come their way.