Xolos failed their home crowd again after a 1–3 loss to Santos Laguna. Despite the loss, there are many things to rescue from their Friday night performance at the Estadio Caliente.
Santos took advantage of the home side who are still adapting to a new system. The visitors took the lead on the 27th minute through a deadly strike coming from the right foot of Djaniny Tavares.
Tijuana equalized through Henry Martin with only 15 minutes to play on regulation, but their defense could not hold on and allowed two goals in the final 10 minutes.
Ulises Davila repeated the dose for Santos striking a bouncing ball into Vilar’s left once again. With time already expired, Martin Bravo added another goal for the visitors for a final score of 1–3.
Tijuana only won two home games last season (Atlas and Guadalajara) and has drawn and loss in their first two home games of the Clausura 2016 so far. This however, hasn’t turned off the fans in Tijuana and San Diego who once again packed the stands seduced by the promise of Miguel Herrera’s arrival.
The flaming Herrera has quickly straightened this team that had been spoiled by the previous manager Ruben Omar Romano. There is a different energy on the field and an authentic offensive mentality that should soon pay off for Xolos. And there is much more that paints a brighter picture for Tijuana in the near future.
Goalkeeper Federico Vilar has regained his confidence after a disastrous 2015 Apertura season in which he had every fan in Tijuana against his back. On Friday night, he had at least three crucial interventions to save his net and on Week 1 against Pachuca he was the main reason why Xolos managed to draw a point.
On defense, Leiton Jimenez is finally reminding us why the city was so excited when Xolos signed him last season. He is timing his runs much better and playing a leading role on defense. However, everyone is still expecting him to score more goals from set plays which is a big reason why he was brought to Tijuana in the first place.
Juninho had his first minutes in front of the home crowd and made a huge impact from the moment he stepped on the field on the 62nd minute. His first touch was a clinical through ball for Dayro Moreno who crossed his shot wide. Ten minutes later he played a precise lob pass over the Santos defensive line assisting Henry Martin for the equalizer.
Miguel Herrera has improvised placing “Diablito” Nunez, a natural full back, as his defensive midfielder. But with Juninho adapting so quickly, it seems it is time to give the Brazilian a spot in the starting line-up and move Nunez back to his natural position.
Finally, on attack we’ve seen a Dayro Moreno feeling the role of a playmaker for Xolos moving freely across the field and leaving the responsibility to Henry Martin to be the pivot for the team up top. Both Moreno and Martin have shown tremendous sacrifice so far fighting every ball that comes across.
Up next for Tijuana is a visit to the steamy “Pirata” Fuente Stadium in Veracruz. Meanwhile, Santos will host Queretaro for a repeat of the Clausura 2015 final, which brings people in Torreon the fond memory of having accumulated their 5th star.
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