Game: Atlas Fútbol Club vs. Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente
Date: Sunday, September 16th
Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Central, 4:00 p.m. Pacific, 11:00 p.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Jalisco (Guadalajara, Jal.)
Referees: REF: Fernando Hernandez Gomez, AR1: Andres Hernández Delgado, AR2: Israel Valenciano Torres, 4TH: José Alfredo Peñaloza Soto
All-time record: In Liga MX play, Xolos ans Atlas have each won three meetings. The clubs have drawn eight times, their last meeting winding up in a 2-2 draw at Estadio Caliente.
With the international break behind them, Club Tijuana (2W 3D 3L) head to Guadalajara to face the floundering Club Atlas (0W 2D 6L). The magnitude of this match for Xolos can not be understated: if Tijuana is going to make the Liguilla, they simply must win this match. Eight games in, Xolos has already fallen to four points out of a Liguilla spot. They can not afford to leave points on the table against a club that has scored exactly one goal in 720 minutes of soccer.
In order to get the job done, someone is going to have to step up on offense. Attacking midfielder Miller Bolaños is currently the club’s top scorer with two goals, the rest of the scoring is by committee. Center forwards Juan Martín Lucero and Erick “Cubo” Torres have just one goal between them - Lucero’s goal in the 53rd minute of the season opener. Bolaños and wingers Eryc Castillo and Fabián Castillo can contribute, but should not be expected to shoulder the load.
For all of the things that Atlas is not doing well (which is many), one thing they’re getting right is that they are seeming to focus on playing young talent. Atlas has played more players (nine) and given more minutes (3231 at last count) to youth players than any other team. In their last match against Tigres, only five starters were over 23. Ulises Cardona and Ían Torres have yet to see their twentieth birthday.
As well as this sort of investment in the future bodes for Atlas, it does not help them much in their current state. They need improvement on all fronts - the kind of improvement that comes with time, albeit more time than just one bye week.