American Exports: Joe Corona, Edgar Castillo & Tijuana make history, reach Libertadores quarters
GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Club Tijuana once again bucked the odds and recorded a famous 2-1 victory over Palmeiras in Brazil on Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinals of the Copa Libertadores.
Jurgen Klinsmann was in the stands at Pacaembú Stadium to watch US internationals Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona make history in the second leg of Tijuana's Round of 16 matchup after they could only record a 0-0 draw in the first leg in Mexico. The win means Xolos will face Ronaldinho’s Atlético Mineiro in the quarterfinals of South America's grand club tournament, scheduled for later this month.
Corona (above right) faced perhaps the most physical challenge of his career so far in São Paulo, but came through it with flying colors, hustling and harrying in the center of midfield and ignoring frequent provocation from Palmeiras players attempting to draw a red card.
Aside from the defensive side of his game, Corona also had a hand in Tijuana’s opener. The 22-year-old made a tackle on the edge of the box and slid the ball to Fidel Martínez, who set up Duvier Riascos for a weak shot that Palmeiras goalkeeper Bruno somehow let past him in the 27th.
Fernando Arce struck Tijuana’s second from outside the area in the 51st, with a penalty from Souza in the 62nd giving the Brazilians a brief flicker of hope. Corona was taken off in the 67th.
Klinsmann will also take some positives back to the United States about Castillo’s performance in an intense atmosphere. The left back’s best moment came in the 81st minute when he stole the ball in defense, charged forward and played a defense-splitting pass from which Riascos should’ve wrapped up the game.
There were a couple of nervous moments defensively for Castillo, but he continued to provide an outlet for his team with his pace when Palmeiras were piling on the pressure.
The Liga MX side, coached by Argentine Antonio Mohamed, has prioritized the Copa Libertadores over domestic competition this season.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.