Match preview: Club Tijuana vs. Santos Laguna
All-time record: Xolos and Santos are in a dead heat, with both teams winning six games each with eight draws in Liga MX play. The last time the teams met was back on March 14th in Tijuana, with Santos getting the 1-0 win thanks to a goal from Félix Torres.
The international break hasn’t been over for 24 hours and Santos will be at it again, facing off against Xolos in Tijuana. Santos will be without Félix Torres, Fernando Gorriarán, and Diego Valdés, who were with their respective Ecuador, Uruguay, and Chile national teams playing just last night.
Santos is one of three unbeaten teams (along with América and Monterrey), but five of those seven matches were draws and they’ll want to pick up all three points on the road against a poor Xolos side. They’ll need to do it not only without Torres, Gorriarán, and Valdés, but without star goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo, who suffered an injured right shoulder and isn’t expected back until the end of the month at the earliest. Instead, former Xolos goalkeeper Gibran Lajud will be in net. Lajud looked good in his Santos debut against FC Juárez, picking up a shutout.
Xolos may also be without their starting goalkeeper, ex-Santos netminder Jonathan Orozco, who is with the Mexican National Team. Orozco didn’t play a single minute, and Xolos has a more than capable backup in Gil Alcalá, who might be an improvement since Orozco has allowed 12 goals, next to last in the league.
Tijuana has also struggled on the offensive side of the ball, scoring just six goals on the season. Lucas Rodríguez leads the team with two, which simply isn’t good enough when the defense is so leaky. Robert Dante Siboldi, a Santos alum himself, has his work completely cut out for him. Tijuana looks adrift, in the midst of a lost season, unable to define themselves enough to pick up a win.
This will not be an easy match for Santos, missing four starters and on the longest road trip they’ll face. But it’s against a winless team they’ve had an extra week to plan for, and at a crucial juncture of the season. The restart after the international break, about halfway through the season, is the perfect time to get momentum to head down the stretch.