Game: Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente vs. Club de Futbol Monterrey
Date: Friday, September 4th
Time: 10:06 p.m. Eastern, 9:06 p.m. Central, 7:06 p.m. Pacific, 2:06 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Caliente (Tijuana, B.C.)
Referees: REF: Jorge Antonio Pérez Durán, AR1: Alberto Morín Méndez, AR2: Miguel Angel Chua Ortiz, 4TH: Adalid Maganda Villalva, VAR: Angel Monroy Bello, AVAR: José Alfredo Peñaloza Soto
Television: United States - Fox Sports 1, FOX Deportes Networka; Mexico - Fox Sports; Belize - Fox Sports; Costa Rica - Fox Sports; Dominican Republic - Fox Sports; El Salvador - Fox Sports; Guatemala - Fox Sports; Honduras - Fox Sports; Nicaragua - Fox Sports; Panama - Fox Sports; Venezuela - Fox Sports
All-time record: Monterrey holds the all time record across all competitions, winning nine to Xolos’ six with the clubs drawing eight times. The clubs have only ever met in Liga MX play. The last time the clubs met, Rayados blew out Xolos 4-0 thanks to a brace from Rogelio Funes Mori and goals from Nicolás Sánchez and Rodolfo Pizarro.
Tijuana (2W 1D 4L) returns home after a dispiriting 3-0 loss to Pumas (3W 4D 0L) last week to host a Monterrey (3W 3D 1L) side that is turning out to be as good as advertised. It’s going to be a tough ask for Tijuana; even though they’ve been decent at home (2W 1D 1L), there are serious questions about the squad that has underperformed in a lot of ways. Xolos rank next to last in goals scored with four and next to last in goals conceded with twelve, and are predictably dead last in goal differential at minus seven.
Tijuana needs someone to step up and lead. The defense has been largely disorganized, with goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco and the back line appearing to be reading from different scripts altogether at times. The offense has been equally as impotent; of the five goals scored this season, one was from the spot, one was from Miller Bolaños who is in exile following a reported fight with ex-teammate Ariel Nahuelpán, and the other was an own goal from Atlas (1W 2D 4L) defender Hugo Nervo.
Monterrey on the other hand comes in with the fifth-best record in the league. They’ve drawn against Pumas and defeated América (4W 1D 2L) and their only defeat has come away at León (4W 2D 1L). Their roster is loaded with talent. Center back Nicolás Sánchez leads the team with three goals, although Aké Loba scored a brace last game and has played just over 90 minutes so far this season. They also have Rogelio Funes Mori, one of the most dangerous forwards in the league, leading the offensive unit that is tied for third best in the league with twelve.
Even if Tijuana was in form, Monterrey would pose huge problems for them. Their offense is clinical, lead in part by wing backs Stefan Medina and Jesús Gallardo (with Miguel Layún on the bench) who are adept at knowing when to push up into the attack and when to drop back and defend. Their ability to shift from defense to offense and back again quickly and effortlessly is anathema to Xolos, who often take time to reset after gaining or losing possession. The physicality of Vincent Janssen will also most certainly cause Xolos problems, although to be fair it’s cause every other team in the league problems as well.
This could be a huge opportunity though for Tijuana. If they can coalesce into coherence and play the defensive chess game Pablo Guede likes, they can hang with just about every team in the league. It may also help their cause that Monterrey is heavily favored and may mentally overlook them. Rayados were uninspired against a Santos Laguna (2W 2D 3L) team that has been poor on the road and were lucky to eke out a 2-2 draw against Los Guerreros at El Gigante de Acero. It could be even tougher after a long trip to La Frontera Norte.