Tigres floundered once again at León on Saturday night, and it is going to require a very good close to the season in order to vault us up the table into the liguilla. As has been the trend all season long, however, when the first team struggled, the fuerzas basicas thrived. This was a good week not only in terms of results, but many of the better prospects in the system had good performances over the weekend.
In a match-up against mid-table opponents Dorados UACH, a familiar face guided Tigres 2a to a 3-2 victory. Brian Rubio scored twice early in the second half to reverse a 1-0 deficit. However, it was substitute Oscar Cardona’s 89th minute goal that ultimately secured the three points for Tigres. Rubio remains the story of the reserve team; his nine goals are 4th most in the Liga Premier, and all three players ahead of him are at least two years older than Rubio. Standing 6’1 and weighing in at 180 pounds, Rubio isn’t your typical Mexican forward. Obviously, with Andre-Pierre Gignac, Tuca Ferretti already employs a system that uses a big, strong forward, so hypothetically Rubio could have a smooth transition to the senior team if he ever gets the call. However, with a steady flow of established outside talent coming in to Tigres these days, it is far from a guarantee that Rubio will ever see a Liga MX field in a Tigres uniform.
It was another two game week for the Sub20 team, who first took on Pumas during a midweek fixture. This game was all Tigres from the very beginning. Rafael Durán and Raúl Torres slotted home two goals each en route to a 4-1 victory. Durán has been overshadowed by some other names, but is quietly having his best ever season at any level, with a career high seven goals this year. Torres, on the other hand, is a much more complicated story. Initially signed from Atletico Cocula as a goalscorer, he has transformed into a pass-first midfielder; these were only his second and third goals of his Tigres career. Despite the drop off on the score sheet, Torres has been a regular starter for this Sub20 team since 2015. For comparison’s sake, the senior player he most reminds me of is Jose “Gringo” Torres.
In the other Sub20 match, against León, the boys suffered an identical defeat to the senior team, falling 1-0. The aforementioned Raúl Torres and Rafael Durán both played the full 90 minutes. The only León goal was officially charged as an own goal to Tigres defender Jorge Cruz. While it wasn’t the brightest moment for Cruz, he is a promising young defender, gathering significant playing time at just 18 years of age.
The U-17 squad played the same schedule as the U-20 side, but the results were quite a bit different. For starters, Tigres fell 4-3 against Pumas, squandering a 2-0 lead. All three goals came from unlikely candidates (Juan Rodriguez, Néstor Monroy, and Juan Martínez), but the story of the game was the defending. By and large this team has been defensively sound, but they haven’t been able to keep a clean sheet since jornada 8. Blame part of this on a busy schedule, these kids have had some excessive travel (especially for 16 and 17 year old students), but still some of this failure to defend must fall on the players themselves.
The other game this weekend was much more positive, however. Tigres unleashed a quintet of goals on León, leading 5-0 for much of the game until conceding a consolation in the 91st minute. Kevin Casas scored the only goal of the opening period, his first of the season and his first at the Sub17 level. A quick double strike from Jesús Garza and Juan Rodriguez in the 60th and 61st minutes quickly put the game away, but not before Patrick Ogama could add two more goals to his tally, bringing it up to 5 for the season.
(Image Courtesy of TigresOficial Fuerzas Basicas)