Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Yanks on top in Mexico, Tijuana celebrates
by Paul Kennedy, December 2nd, 2012 11:37PM

MOST READ
TAGS:  americans abroad, mexico

MOST COMMENTED

[AMERICANS ABROAD] Tijuana completed one of the great stories in the history of Mexican soccer when it won the Torneo Apertura in Mexico's Liga MX on Sunday, and Americans Edgar Castillo, Joe Corona and Greg Garza played major roles. In only their fifth year of existence and second year in the elite of Mexican soccer, the Xolos earned a 2-0 victory at Toluca to win the two-game final series, 4-1, on aggregate. Their title, a symbol of the rebirth of Tijuana itself, was greeted with celebrations on both sides of the border.

Tijuana was hit hard by the drug war between the Sinaloa Cartel and Tijuana Cartel, and tourism, the city's lifeblood, dried up. But in the last year, the violence has started the subside and new restaurants and bars are opening. Isolated from the rest of Mexico in Baja California, Tijuana has close ties to San Diego. Many TJ residents cross the border to work or go to school in San Diego.

Born to a Mexican father and Salvadoran mother in Los Angeles, Corona was raised in Tijuana and San Diego, where played high school soccer. He attended San Diego State before joining the Xolos' youth program but still commutes from San Diego to Tijuana for work.

The Xoloitzcuintles (named for a breed of hairless dog of Aztec heritage) attract thousands of fans from San Diego County who travel to TJ on game day, many of them armed with Xolopasses, season tickets.

The Tijuana stadium, aptly named Estadio Caliente, was built in 2007 by owner Jorge Hank Rhon and seats 21,000. In part because of the field's artificial surface, the Xolos are practically unbeatable at home.

While the Tijuana first team is dominated by foreigners -- it helps that the Americans Castillo, Corona and Garza qualify as Mexicans -- it has launched an academy program targeting players on both sides of the border.

Former U.S. U-17 Alejandro Guido, another Tijuana resident who went to school and played soccer in San Diego, made his pro debut in the Copa MX. Another American teenager, Stevie Rodriguez, suited up for Tijuana in the cup competition.

Tijuana's big break came in 2011 -- only its third season -- when it won the Liga de Ascenso to earn promotion. Corona was a part of that team and went on to be named the top rookie in Mexico in fall 2011.

The Xolos contended for first place for most of the fall 2012 campaign but finished second to Toluca in the final standings. The Liga MX is one of the few major leagues in the world that holds full-blown playoffs -- eight of the 18 teams qualify.

Tijuana carried a 2-1 lead into the second leg of the final, and its organized defense never looked seriously threaten in La Bombonera, the Red Devils' dreaded home field where the altitude makes it difficult for visiting teams.

The Xolos added to their series lead in the 70th minute when Mexican Richard Ruiz sneaked and scored after Paraguayan Fernando Arce's free kick hit the post.

A minute later, Castillo started a break with a long ball to Ecuadoran Fidel Martinez, who fed Colombian Duvier Riascos for the second goal.

Castillo won his first Mexican title with Santos in 2008 but never settled in at Club America after moving to Mexico City in 2009. He was loaned out to four clubs before finding a home at Tijuana in the spring.

Garza, who grew up in Texas and bounced around clubs in Brazil and Portugal before landing in Tijuana, did not play in the final but scored the winning goal in the first leg of the quarterfinals at Concacaf champion Monterrey.

The Xolo gringos join a rare group of Americans who have won Mexican league titles.

Dominic Kinnear -- yes, that Dominic Kinnear -- won the Mexican title with Necaxa in 1995. Jose Torres played on Pachuca when it won the Clausura 2007 title. And last spring Herculez Gomez lifted the Clausura 2012 trophy with Santos.



1 comment
  1. Genaro Valladolid
    commented on: December 4, 2012 at 1:25 p.m.
    Paul, Tijuana went wild all weekend for the Xolos. I was among 20,000 that greeted them at the stadium around 1:30 AM on Monday. BTW, Fernando Arce is actually a Tijuana native and not Paraguayan. Xolos campeĆ³n!


Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
What They're Saying: IRS crime chief Richard Weber    
"I don't think there was ever a decision or a declaration that we would go after ...
What They're Saying: Tab Ramos    
"We didn't play how we wanted to play, that's for sure. We found in front of ...
Under-20 World Cup: Results & Schedule    
Panama rallied to tie perennial U-20 power Argentina, 2-2, in the opening game in Group B. ...
MLS: This weekend ...    
Sporting Kansas City's 4-0 win over FC Dallas moved it into a tie for second place ...
Video Pick: George Evans starts Man City's U.S. tour in style    
Manchester City's 20-year-old academy product George Evans spent all of the past two years on loan ...
Video Pick: Brilliant soccer tennis at French Open    
The French Open crowd erupted in cheers when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Dudi Sela started using their ...
U.S. U-23s down the Dutch, 3-1     
The USA bounced back from its 3-1 opening loss against France at the Festival International Espoirs ...
ICYMI | MLS: Orlando City will expand new downtown stadium    
Orlando City will increase capacity in the new stadium, initially expected to hold 19,000 fans, to ...
FIFA: Blatter survives, easily winning election to fifth term    
Embattled Sepp Blatter won election for a fifth four-year term as FIFA president, defeating his sole ...
What They're Saying: Kuwait's Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah    
"While I am very happy to be in Congress, it is not as quiet as we ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives