Game: Club Deportivo Guadalajara S.A. de C.V. vs. Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente
Date: Saturday, January 5th
Time: 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 9:00 p.m. Central, 7:00 p.m. Pacific, 2:00 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Akron (Zapopan, Jal.)
Referees: REF: Adonai Escobedo Gonzalez, AR1: Miguel Angel Chua Ortiz, AR2: Marco Antonio Bisguerra Mendiola, 4TH: Alejandro Funk Villafañe
All-time record: Tijuana holds the edge in Liga MX play, winning nine to Chivas’ two, and the clubs have drawn four times. The clubs also split a pair of games played in the 2014 Copa MX Apertura tournament. Xolos won the last match the teams played, a 2-1 win at Estadio Caliente. The last time they played in Guadalajara was the 2017 Clausura, when Xolos won 1-0.
Chivas comes into 2019 on the heels of a disappointing season. They missed the playoffs and watched as their most hated rivals Club América had their names engraved on the Liga MX trophy at the end - to give them one more than El Rebaño Sagrado has. They’ll be looking to start the new year off right as Tijuana comes to town looking to shake off a similarly disappointing Apertura campaign.
Chivas has re-tooled much of its roster, jettisoning players like captain Carlos Salcido, left back Edwin Hernández, and forwards Orbelín Pineda, Ángel Zaldívar, and Ángel Sepúlveda. They’ve replaced them by picking up center backs Tony Alfaro from the Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer and Hiram Mier from Querétaro, ex-Necaxa central midfielder Dieter Villalpando, and Alexis Vega from Toluca.
Chivas should be improved over last season, however the big question is just how much they improved. They’ll need Vega and Alan Pulido to better the 21 goals scored in the Apertura if they’re going to be competitive in a way that their massive fan base expects of them.
Tijuana hasn’t changed much since the end of last season when it comes to the players on the field. They were able to address one of the biggest needs by bringing in 31 year old center back Diego Braghieri from Colombia’s Atlético Nacional. They also brought back “Mr. Xolo” Joe Corona, as the 28 year old San Diego native had been on loan with Club América for the entirety of 2018.
They did not however address the need at striker, and that could prove problematic once again for the Aztec Canines. Tijuana scored only 13 goals in the Apertura, and their two top strikers Juan Martín Lucero and Erick Torres scored two goals combined: Cubo’s Week 10 goal against Pachuca and Lucero’s goal against Chivas all the way back in Week 1. They simply must do better in 2019 if Xolos are going to succeed.
The good news for Xolos is that they have plenty of other offensive talent to help provide scoring opportunities. Miller Bolaños had another good season at central attacking midfielder, and he started to develop some real chemistry with right winger Eryc Castillo and left winger Fabián Castillo. 19 year old Antonio Nava also showed plenty of promise on the right wing in the final two games of the Apertura.
The most eyes however will be on Fabián Castillo, who is reunited with his longtime mentor Oscar Pareja. Pareja coached Castillo as a youth when Pareja was a coach in FC Dallas’ famed youth system and again when Pareja re-joined the Texas club as the head coach in 2014. Under Pareja, Castillo flourished in Dallas, getting an All-Star nod in 2015 and being picked up by Turkish Super Lig side Trabzonspor the following year. If Pareja can coax that level back out of Castillo as well as some of his teammates, Xolos may just be able to get themselves back in tho the Liguilla.