American Exports: Jurgen Klinsmann attends Tijuana's Copa Libertadores game, Yanks fail to shine
GUADALAJARA, Mexico – US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann tweeted that he was at Estadio Caliente on Tuesday, presumably to check on the progress of national team duo Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona, but he’s unlikely to have been impressed.
The Copa Libertadores Round of 16 match between Club Tijuana and Brazil’s Palmeiras ended 0-0 in front of a less-than-full stadium and both Americans on show were erratic. Corona gave the ball away too easily at times in his role as the most attacking of a central midfield three and tired towards the end of the game.
Not that it was all bad from the San Diego native, though. He produced a moment of class in the 25th minute when he stole the ball in the center of the field and sent Alfredo Moreno through down the left, but Fidel Martínez’s eventual shot to finish the move flew high and wide of the goal.
Just before halftime, Corona produced his best bit of skill of the night, when he took the ball, twisted past an outrushing defender and slotted Moreno through on goal for the easiest chance of the game, although the Argentine blasted the ball almost out the stadium.
Left back Castillo was more restrained in attacking than usual, perhaps simply because of the Brazilian side’s game plan to pin him back.
Like Corona, Castillo was also guilty of giving away possession too easily and failed to be that constant threat down the left that so benefits Xolos, although he did make an important challenge in the 23rd and his work rate was excellent.
Greg Garza missed the encounter – in which Xolos shaded chances and possession without really dominating – through a minor muscle injury.
The result means that Tijuana go into the return leg in Brazil on May 14 needing a scoring draw or a victory to move to the quarterfinals, where they would face another Brazilian opponent in either São Paulo or Ronaldinho's Atlético Mineiro.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.