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Match preview: Club Tijuana vs. Santos Laguna

The known quantity in Santos Laguna heads to Tijuana to face an unknown quantity in Xolos.

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Santos Laguna v Tijuana - Torneo Apertura 2019 Liga MX

Game: Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente vs. Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V.

Date: Friday, January 10th

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.)

Referees: REF: Oscar Macías Romo, AR1: Miguel Ángel Hernández Paredes, AR2: Eduardo Acosta Orea, 4TH: Alejandro Funk Villafañe

Radio: 98.9 FM (Tijuana/San Diego), 106.7 FM (Calexico/Mexicali)

Television: United States - Fox Sports 2, FOX Deportes Network; Mexico - Fox Sports 2 Cono Norte

Streaming: fuboTV (Free trial + monthly subscription), Sling TV (Free trial + monthly subscription), FOX Sports GO, MOREFM (Audio only)

All-time record: Xolos holds the slight edge over Santos, winning five to Los Guerreros’ four with eight draws in Liga MX play. The last time the teams met, Santos thrashed a listless Xolos 4-1 in Torreón back on October 18. Brian Lozano, Diego Valdés, Julio Furch, and Octavio Rivero scored for Santos while Tijuana’s lone goal came from Erick Torres.

The last time they met in Tijuana, they wound up in a 2-2 draw in August of 2018, with Xolos goals from Diego González and (current Santos player) Eryc “La Culebra” Castillo. Brian Lozano and Julio Furch tallied for the visitors in that one. The clubs have never met in any competition other than Liga MX play.

Ecuador v Colombia - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifiers
Gustavo Quinteros takes over in Tijuana, the thirteenth stop in his coaching career dating back to 2003.
Photo by Franklin Jacome/LatinContent via Getty Images

During the short offseason, Tijuana completely overhauled the team. Manager Óscar Pareja was the first to go, winding up back in Major League Soccer with Orlando City. Then the club sent Ariel Nahuelpán, Julián Velázquez, and Antonio “Chapín” Nava to sister club Querétaro, Luis Fuentes to Club América, loaned Leonel Miranda to Racing Club in Argentina, and let Washington Camacho walk on a free. The club also did not renew the loan for Diego Braghieri from Atlético Nacional in Colombia.

The club brought in Bryan Angulo from Cruz Azul, Bryan Colula and Emilio Sánchez from Zacatepec in the Ascenso, Miguel Barbieri from Racing, Alexis Castro from Defensa y Justicia in Argentina, and Christian Rivera from Deportivo Cali in Colombia. Also rumored to be joining us Leandro González Pirez from Atlanta United of Major League Soccer.

Managing all of this will be 54 year old Argentine Gustavo Quinteros, whose managerial experience spans 12 prior teams since 2003 on three continents including stints with the Bolivia and Ecuador national teams.

Quinteros will have his work cut out for him in Tijuana. The club finished out of the Liguilla in the 2019 Apertura, missing the playoff round by three points. Tijuana needs to have a good season, having qualified for the Liguilla just once in their past three seasons.

Santos Laguna v Queretaro - Torneo Apertura 2019 Liga MX
Fernando Gorriarán and Santos want to continue last season’s winning ways.
Photo by Armando Marin/Jam Media/Getty Images

When you finish the previous season as superlíder, there’s no real need to change much. Santos only brought in Josecarlos Van Rankin and Alan Cervantes from Chivas, and the big names to leave were José Abella going to sister club Atlas, José Juan “Gallito” Vázquez going to Chivas on loan, Diego De Buen going to Tampico Madero in the Ascenso, and Javier Cortés heading to Atlético San Luis.

According to midfielder Fernando Gorriarán, Santos is going to try to achieve the same goals as last season.

“(The goals) are the same as the prior tournament, I think we play a big role, classify (for the Liguilla) within the top eight, also we have the cup. We’ll try to play a big role to reach our objectives for this year.”

It won’t be an easy start for Santos however. The complete unknown quantity of Xolos new setup isn’t easy to plan for and it’s always a tough road trip for any team to go to La Frontera Norte. Santos however has something that no other team has: the talent that won the superlíder last season still on the roster.

“It will be a very complicated game,” Gorriarán says. “They have a new coach and ‘Profe’ (Guillermo Almada) knows him (Xolos coach Gustavo Quinteros). We know they have great players who will come out to play so we’re going to try to prepare in the best way to get the points.“