09 de Mayo del 2017 6:15 pm.
Santos Laguna closed its 2017 Clausura campaign undefeated at home, after coming from behind with nine men to tie Toluca 2-2 on Sunday night in Torreon. The draw was good for a fifth place finish right behind Sunday’s opponents, resulting in a quarterfinal rematch between the Red Devils and Los Guerreros.
The unbeaten run at home marks the seventh time in club history where Los Guerreros have gone all season undefeated at Estadio Corona, posting five wins and four draws in front of their home crowd to open 2017.
United States international Jorge Villafaña, who has started for Santos at left back in the last eight games, was confident after the hard-fought draw against Toluca, a team which hasn’t posted a single victory in Torreon since 2004. “Villa,” as he’s more commonly known among his Torreon teammates, is looking for his first league title with Santos after arriving to the club in 2016 as MLS Cup Champion with Portland Timbers the year prior.
“We feel like we could have won the game but at the end of the day we're in the quarterfinals of the Liguilla, we're happy to be undefeated at home and we know we need to keep it that way,” he said on Sunday night.
Ahead of the upcoming home and away series in the quarterfinals of the post season, Toluca finished with the best away record in Liga MX with four wins, two draws, and a single loss.
“Toluca is a really good opponent but I think we played better in the second half even with two men down,” said Villafaña. “The Liguilla is a whole different thing so we have to take advantage of the first game at home, score some goals and go into the second leg with the advantage, score over there and hopefully make it through to the semifinals.”
The team trained under the command of head coach Jose Manuel de la Torre on Tuesday afternoon where it worked to fine tune details ahead of Wednesday’s game. Los Guerreros will play the first leg without striker Djaniny Tavares and midfielder Gael Sandoval, who are serving one-game suspensions for red cards in Sunday’s match. Toluca midfielder Jesus Mendez will also miss Wednesday’s match on a red card suspension.
“We have to be smart with what we do on the field,” he added. “Unfortunately we had two red cards but that's a part of the game; we have to be careful. I think we played well, but we need to now put our chances away and remain solid at the back. I feel like we have a team strong enough to reach the Liga MX final.”
Santos vs. Toluca in leg one of the Liguilla quarterfinals will kick off Wednesday night at 9:30 pm local time (CT) at Estadio Corona, and can be seen live on Univision Deportes in the United States.