In our continuing series of guides to Liga MX clubs with US soccer players on their roster in 2013, we move to Mexico’s defending champions. Against all odds, that’s Club Tijuana, aka Xolos, the home of US National Teamers Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona.
USMNT players in Tijuana
Tijuana isn’t the only Mexican club with two members of the USMNT in their squad, but they are the only ones defending a championship won with those same two players on their roster. Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona impressed USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann with their club play, moving into the US squad.
Tijuana as a soccer city
South of San Diego in what was once upon a time a tourist haven for Americans eager to make a quick trip across the border. That trip isn’t so quick these days, though Tijuana’s soccer team stresses the link with far southern California. It makes a lot of sense, offering Liga MX soccer within relatively easy access of a US city. The reality isn’t as easy, with safety concerns and the delays at the border turning routine trips into problems. Rumors that Club Tijuana plan on playing their Copa Libertadores games in San Diego’s National Football League stadium would not only strengthen ties to the US city, it would raise awareness from people that might not know Mexican topflight soccer is available just across the border.
The reason Club Tijuana might not be familiar to American fans is their relative newness in the top level of Mexican club soccer. The club celebrated its sixth anniversary on Jan 10, 2013. Sure, there are younger Major League Soccer clubs but most fans associate Mexican teams with a longevity that gets them into the 1960’s and 70’s. For Tijuana, there were other teams that tried and failed to establish the city as a soccer market. Club Tijuana is the latest attempt, and one that brought the city a trophy.
How Tough Is The Mexican Primera Division?
For Club Tijuana, not as hard as expected. Part of that is due to the major forces in Mexican soccer struggling in recent seasons. Part of that is Mexico’s two seasons per year with a quick turnaround in between where multiple clubs make wholesale changes. We can assume Tijuana probably didn’t expect to lift a trophy in 2012, but the situation was there and they took advantage. With raised expectations, the 2013 Clausura is an important test.
The festively named and sponsor-approved Estadio Caliente, built for a smaller club that just happens to be the same one celebrating a title in their expanded stadium. Club Tijuana seems to exist to impress, and they weren’t a lower division club long enough to fully enjoy the 13k capacity stadium they opened in 2007. Four months after the stadium opened, it held 21k and now can accommodate 33,333. Though it’s not the architectural marvel CD Chivas built outside of Guadalajara, Tijuana’s soccer stadium has it’s own unique charm.