American Exports: Castillo, Tijuana into Copa Libertadores
GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Club Tijuana's American trio is about to go where few Yanks before them have gone before: the Copa Libertadores.
Los Xolos clinched a spot in Latin America's most prestigious club competition thanks to a 2-0 victory at Chivas Guadalajara.
Edgar Castillo started and went 90 minutes for Xolos in the comfortable win at Estadio Omnilife, playing solidly and with much more defensive discipline than usual and putting in a couple of crunching tackles in the first half.
Joe Corona was left on the bench, while Greg Garza didn't make the matchday squad.
Tijuana are the only team likely to feature Americans in the Liga MX playoffs. They face a tricky double-header against Monterrey on either Wednesday or Thursday and Saturday or Sunday to advance to the semifinals.
Herculez Gomez returned to the bench for Oribe Peralta on Friday, and was brought on in the 69th minute when the score was already as the game would end: 2-0 to Morelia.
After a long period now without a break, Gomez will be able to rest during the offseason, as Santos Laguna missed out on the playoffs on goal difference.
The finale of DaMarcus Beasley's Apertura season with Puebla came more of a relief than anything, although Sunday's 1-0 home defeat to Querétaro, who hadn't previously won a game all season, at least highlights the need for major changes at the club.
Beasley went the full 90 minutes for la Franja, having a shot saved in the 42nd minute and almost getting an equalizer in a scramble in the penalty box two minutes from time.
In Mexico City, also Sunday, Sonny Guadarrama's Atlante had to win by four goals against Pumas UNAM, but lost 3-2, with Guadarrama pulled off at halftime after a quiet first 45.
Jose Torres didn't appear in Pachuca's 2-1 win on Saturday over Jaguares, with reports that he was injured during the week surfacing, as well as continued speculation that his future lies away from Estadio Hidalgo.
Michael Orozco Fiscal didn't make the San Luis squad in their 2-0 defeat to Toluca, while Jonathan Bornstein wasn't involved in Tigres UANL’s 1-1 draw with Club América.
In Mexico's second division, Isaac Acuña's Mérida struck a huge blow to Marco Vidal's Lobos BUAP in the first leg of the Ascenso MX final, winning 3-0 at home on Saturday. Acuña came on five minutes from time, while Vidal started and went 67 minutes for the Puebla-based team.
In Ecuador, Miguel Ibarra completed the full game for Barcelona in their 1-1 tie with LDU Loja.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. Contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org