GUADALAJARA, Mexico – It was a bittersweet evening for Tigres UANL’s Americans on Thursday night.
On one hand, the 2-2 tie for the Mexican champions against Chilean side Unión Española means Tigres are out of the Copa Libertadores at the qualification stage, after the Monterrey-based team lost 1-0 in the first leg.
The repercussions of the result for US international Jonathan Bornstein, 19-year-old winger Victor Garza and 18-year-old left back Juan Pablo Ocegueda, amongst other young Americans in Tigres, could be huge, with chances in the first team for league games difficult to obtain for arguably Mexico’s best squad.
On the positive side World Cup veteran Bornstein went the full 90 minutes and was a revelation in central midfield, the fulcrum of Tigres’ attacks and looking like a reinvented player from the left back who has been heavily criticized by US fans for his performance in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The 27-year-old will hope his performance caught the eye of head coach Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti and that he will get a chance during the domestic season.
Nineteen-year-old Garza, meanwhile, had a night he will never forget, entering the match in the 77th minute for his first-team debut in front of 35,000 fans at Estadio Universitario in Monterrey.
The speedy winger looked dangerous on the right wing and won praise from the commentators, who suggested he should have been introduced earlier.
Ocegueda, who was sub in the first leg, did not dress.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America. He can be reached via email@example.com.