GUADALAJARA, Mexico – The postseason of four Americans in Mexico already looks like it is coming to an end before it really began.
In the Estadio Caliente, Club Tijuana fell 2-1 against a clinical Monterrey side in the quarterfinal first leg of the playoffs on Wednesday night, with Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona both starting. Jesús Zavala and Ángel Reyna got the goals for los Rayados, with Raúl Enríquez grabbing a late lifeline for Tijuana.
The defeat means los Xolos have to win by two goals in the return leg in Monterrey on Saturday to advance to the semifinals.
Tijuana gave as good as they got and had chances to open the scoring, with a volley from the edge of the area by Corona set to nestle in the corner of the net in the 13th minute before a Monterrey defender stretched out a leg to deflect it wide.
Corona (above) – playing most the game on the left of midfield – was one of Tijuana’s better performers on the night, keeping the ball and connecting the midfield with the strikers before being hauled off after 72 minutes.
Castillo also had a decent game as left wingback, but didn’t make as many marauding runs as usual, especially early in the game.
When he did go forward, he caused problems for Monterrey, cutting through defenders with ease. In the 56th, Castillo went close with a driven shot from the left-hand edge of the penalty box.
Greg Garza was left on the substitutes’ bench for Tijuana.
In the Estadio Hidalgo, José Torres’ Pachuca was 2-0 down at halftime against América and went on to lose 3-1.
Torres didn’t have one of his better games and was slightly missing in the midfield. In particular, one sloppy pass midway through the first half gifted las Águilas possession and almost led to a goal.
It wasn’t just Torres, though. The whole Pachuca side was lackluster and look set to go out at the quarterfinal stage for the second consecutive season, unless they can win by three goals at the Estadio Azteca on Saturday.
In the last 15 minutes, Torres did create some havoc in the América area with a series of precision set pieces, but overall it was a night to forget for los Tuzos.