CCL Preview: Club Tijuana defeat Monarcas Morelia 1-0 to extend home unbeaten run to 16

TIJUANA— Club Tijuana returned to winning ways on Friday after captain Javier Gandolfi scored the lone goal in a 1-0 victory over Monarcas Morelia at the Estadio Caliente.

Tijuana was in firm control of the match from the opening whistle as they dominated possession against a listless Morelia side. After peppering the Monarcas net for much of the first half, Tijuana broke through in the 61st minute when Gandolfi smashed a Francisco Arce free kick into the back of the Morelia net.

The victory extended Tijuana’s home unbeaten streak to 16 games and a 2-1-1 record after four matches in the Clausura tournament.

A few observations from the match:

*Having seen Club Tijuana play numerous times since the start of their season, the primary question mark remains the uneven play of left back Edgar Castillo. The U.S. international has always been more of an attacking wing back that can be a liability on defense, which could be a major asset for the Galaxy attack. When the two teams meet in March, expect LA to look to pressure Castillo in order to find space behind the Xolos defense.

*Midfielder Fidel Martinez is the true engine of the Tijuana attack, but against Morelia, he’s struggled to create dangerous opportunities going forward. Against Monarcas, the Ecuadorian was afforded plenty of time and space by a Morelia midfield that preferred to sit back and allow Xolos possession.  A very technical attacker, look for the Galaxy to attempt to limit his space and force him to give away possession.  However, if the LA midfield does provide him with time to operate, he should provide a dangerous test for the Galaxy defense.

*A lot has been made over the past several years about the turf at the Estadio Caliente, but after placing a new surface earlier this year, it is a marked improvement from the hard concrete-like surface of years past. That being said, it is still not the equal of a turf surface like the one at JELD-WEN Field in Portland as the ball too often sticks to the ground causing problems for the home side and visitors alike.  Prior to the match on March 18, expect the Galaxy to spend a considerable amount of time training on turf surfaces to prepare.