It happened again. After having allowed Alexis Canelo to score a 92nd minute goal two weeks ago in Toluca to lose the game, followed by Carlos González’s 90th minute goal last weekend to lose the lead vs. Pumas, Tigres had another lead heading into stoppage time on Friday night, this time in the 96th minute as a matter of fact, facing a lowly Mazatlán FC squad who have done nothing but commit blunder after blunder every week and prove why they’re among the league’s worst. Yet, “Tuca” and company somehow managed to allow this quality-lacking team to harass them multiple times toward the end until finally conceding, giving up two important points with the score ending up even at 1-1.
The match flowed just about the way anyone would’ve expected, despite a very rainy and wet pitch not allowing for a normal flow of the ball. Tigres dominated most of the action through the first 75 minutes of the match, owning possession of the ball and having the “closer” chances to score. Mazatlán’s gameplan was mostly to sit back and wait for their rivals to build their attack and hope to get a steal which would lead to a counter-attack. Unfortunately for Tigres, those “closer” chances never translated into dangerous attacks or clear goal opportunities. This made everyone, including the announcers, wonder why Leo Fernández hadn’t been subbed in at some point during the second half, considering he has continued to be left out of the starting lineup with this offense not finding its rhythm.
And so, as the minutes went by in the second half and no real changes were occurring, with Vargas’ low level of play continuing to show and Aquino not really providing the spark expected from him, you could hear the chorus in El Kraken stadium all the way from Monterrey chanting, “Put Leo in! Put Leo in!” As the 77th minute arrived, “Chaka” Rodríguez took the ball on the right side and sent in a beautiful cross which Gignac sent home with a perfect header to give Tigres the lead. After that, Tigres yielded the game initiative. They allowed Mazatlán control of the ball and their three most dangerous plays in the final 14 minutes of the game, culminating with the 97th minute score by Miguel Sansores.
To add insult to injury, Ferretti decided to take off Luis Quiñones in the 91st minute. One couldn’t help but imagine he would give last season’s breakout player a chance to prove himself in the final minutes of the match. Instead, he continued to prove his stubbornness and subbed in Raymundo Fulgencio, a midfielder who was barely making his second appearance of the season. During the season’s early weeks, rumor had it Leo wasn’t fully fit and “Tuca” was waiting for his fitness level to increase to play him. However, with that statement clearly misrespresenting the facts, the reasoning behind the Tigres’ head coach choosing to allow Fernández to continue to ride the bench despite his offensive players’ poor performances and results just baffles me.
After Friday night’s draw, Tigres’ line now reads 2 wins, 4 draws, and 1 loss. This goes for a total of 10 points, as league-leader Cruz Azul has now created a 6-point separation between them. With this super-team not taking off and getting the expected results, the growing unrest that exists in the Tigres camp as well as with fans continues to grow, slowly spilling into the public eye. While there haven’t been any official reports on the possibility of the Brazilian coach’s dismissal, the increasing #FueraTuca trend proves the pressure is mounting and fans aren’t happy. They’ve seen enough of their team’s mediocrity and want to see quality players on the field, especially with Vargas and Aquino clearly not performing at their full capacity.
With ex-president Miguel Garza having been dismissed from the organization a couple months ago, we now know the decisions this club is capable of. The question remains how patient current president Alejandro Rodríguez will continue to be with his historic head coach, as the team so clearly needs a shake-up and refreshing of some sort, and what better than to insert last season’s breakout player in the lineup. But Ferretti simply won’t give in. While I wouldn’t expect the Brazilian’s job to be on the line in any way, if Tigres don’t get the engine running soon, “El Inge” may be forced to start making some difficult decisions.
As we know, any period that starts, must end at some point. Especially in sports, there are times when a coach or player simply can’t do anything more for their club. Their time is up and the team simply needs to move on from that person to reach that next level or to continue along the lines of greatness it has seen. Could we be entering this phase of the “Tuca” reign with Tigres?