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American Exports: Tijuana wear "favorites" tag for playoffs

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Club Tijuana's Yanks embark on their second playoff run in two seasons on Thursday, with a Copa Libertadores spot in the bag and high hopes that they can get their hands on a first-ever Liga MX title.

The Xolos travel to Monterrey for the first leg in a repeat of last season's quarterfinal matchup, which the Rayados won 4-3 on aggregate (8 pm ET, Univision Deportes).

Americans by the numbers in Tijuana
Name Apperances (Starts) Minutes Goals
Edgar Castillo 14 (14) 1,221 0
Joe Corona 14 (9) 778 0
Greg Garza 6 (4) 365 1

As Tijuana head coach Antonio Mohamed has indicated, his side wants to get one over on the CONCACAF Champions League holders due to that closely fought battle last season.

“Definitely revenge, that's what we wanted,” Greg Garza told MLSsoccer.com of the Monterrey game. “We definitely have the chemistry and the strength to manage it better this time.”

Left back Edgar Castillo (above) describes Monterrey as a “very complicated rival,” but has plenty of experience negotiating playoffs in Mexico – this is his fifth liguilla – and is taking it game by game.

“We want to be champions, but we'll go step by step,” he said after his team´s 2-0 victory on Sunday over Chivas. “We have to get a good result there and close it out well at home.”

Tijuana finished the Apertura in second position and, with only one loss in 17 regular-season games, are considered one of the favorites for the title.

As for qualifying for South America's premier club competition, winger Joe Corona says it had been a major goal for a club with a distinctly international outlook.

“It feels good to make history, it's a dream we all had since the beginning of the season,” Corona told MLSsoccer.com on Sunday. “We laid down some objectives and we've accomplished them one by one. It shows the unity of the team and how we've all bought into the same objective.”

The return leg of the Liga MX quarterfinal against Monterrey is set for Sunday in the Estadio Caliente.

Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at tom.marshall.mex@gmail.com.