Both Americans were sent off in the waning minutes of a 2-1 defeat to Morelia that puts the 2012 Liga MX Apertura champions' Clausura liguilla hopes on life support.The playoffs are slipping out of Club Tijuana's reach, and a pair of Americans vital to the team's success won't be able to provide a lift with its domestic situation at its direst.
Both Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona were sent off in the final minutes of Tijuana's 2-1 loss to Morelia Saturday night, a loss that put a dent in Tijuana's Liguilla hopes with time ticking away on the Liga MX Clausura regular season.
Corona, a 70th-minute substitute, was shown red for a seemingly innocuous foul from behind on Joao Rojas, as he went to ground to try and win a 50-50 ball in midfield in the 89th minute. In stoppage time, Castillo picked up two yellow cards in a matter of seconds, being forced to exit for dissent after being whistled for pulling Rodrigo Salinas' jersey from the back collar. Neither U.S. international will be eligible for selection as Xolos attempt to fight their way to the playoffs Saturday against San Luis.
Tijuana looked to be in good standing, leading 1-0 on the strength of a Daniel Marquez first-half goal. Hector Mancilla scored twice in two minutes, though, to completely turn the tide. He notched the equalizer in the 74th minute off a slick turn and fire from long range. Mancilla scored the go-ahead goal in the 76th minute on a close-range finish off a failed Castillo clearance of a cross to force a four-way tie atop the Golden Boot standings with his ninth goal of the campaign, while sparking a Xolos tailspin.
With Tijuana maintaining its focus on the Copa Libertadores -- the first leg of its round of 16 tie with Brazilian side Palmeiras is slated for April 30 -- its grip on following up its 2012 Apertura championship with more domestic success has loosened considerably. After a 4-0-1 start to the campaign, Tijuana is now 5-7-3 with two league games remaining and is part of a group of four teams trying to pry Liguilla berths away from Queretaro and Cruz Azul. With 18 points, Tijuana trails the former by three points and latter by two, but Monterrey, Toluca and Pachuca are all within the same, or closer, range with a better goal differential.