Club América will head to the border as they face Tijuana in their opening match of the Clausura 2024. The Águilas are known to have a slow start at the beginning of a season, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if they struggle against Xolos. They lost their first match of the Apertura, but that shouldn’t be the case this time around considering they are coming off one of their best seasons yet that ended with a title.
Defeating the reigning champions would be a giant positive for Tijuana, considering how they’ve struggled the past few seasons. Head coach Miguel ‘Piojo’ Herrera returned to coach Tijuana in February 2023 after he first coached the team between 2015-2017. His arrival did not help Xolos secure a spot in the liguilla as they ended the Clausura 2023 in 15th place. While some may argue that he didn’t have enough time to turn the team around, he had the majority of the season at his disposal, yet the team could not make it to 12th place which would’ve given them a spot in the postseason.
Then, in the Apertura 2023 they finished 13th which was an improvement, but once again failed to make it to the liguilla or even the play-in round. The addition of Carlos González helped the team mend over some cracks they had, but ultimately there wasn’t much he could do as the problems were much bigger. The biggest issue they have is at the head coaching position seeing as Herrera hasn’t been consistent with the team as many believed he would be. It’s highly probable that if Tijuana can’t get a positive result this season, it might just be Herrera’s last.
While Xolos seem to have many issues, the only one that América have is who will be starting. Will André Jardine experiment this season and try different players in different positions or will everything stay the same? Jardine also has the advantage he didn’t have last season of having a healthy and complete squad. Last summer the Gold Cup was played, which meant the Águilas had some of their important players gone for weeks. On top of that, players missed time due to suspension or injury. This difficult time would’ve caused most coaches to falter, but not Jardine. He had a lot of pressure on him since fans had been waiting for years for another trophy and they’d been knocked out right before the final for three consecutive seasons.
That all changed as soon as Jardine had every player at his disposal and the team started to gel together. They went from a team who disappointed their fans in the final stretch of the liguilla to a team that had both the best offense and defense. During the Apertura 2023 the Águilas only allowed 14 goals and scored 37 all while only losing one game which was the season opener. If ‘Tano’ Ortiz had stayed as head coach, there’s no doubt the team would have fallen in semifinals, considering ‘Tano’ couldn’t get Monterrey past the semis either. Jardine had the most dangerous team in the league and instead of crumbling under the pressure, he went and won the league in his first season with the team.
When: Saturday January 13, 2024
Who: Club Tijuana vs. Club América
Where: Estadio Caliente, Tijuana, B.C., Mexico
How to Watch: TUDN (USA), Univision (USA), FuboTV (USA), Fox Sports Mexico, Fox Sports Premium (MEX), ViX (MEX).