GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Paul Arriola debuted Friday in the Liga Bancomer MX with a defense-splitting pass for Club Tijuana’s third goal in a 3-3 tie with Atlas in Estadio Caliente on the opening night of the Apertura championship in Mexico.
Chula Vista, Calif., native Arriola entered the pitch on the hour mark to replace Aldo Polo and four minutes later picked the ball up in the final third to send Argentine Darío Benedetto through to score.
The 18-year-old former LA Galaxy youth-teamer patrolled the right wing and caused problems with his pace down the flank in a confident first taste of professional soccer.
Fellow American Greg Garza started for Xolos for the first time since April – after an injury plagued first half of 2013 – and was solid at left back, coming close to assisting with some precise crosses.
In the 63rd minute, the Texan former US youth international broke down the left, took the ball to the byline and produced an enticing centering pass that almost led to a Xolos goal.
Ten minutes later, the 21-year-old Garza produced a similar play that Benedetto headed towards goal, forcing a reaction save from Atlas 'keeper Alan López.
Benedetto netted a debut hat trick for Tijuana – who was missing Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona to US national team duty and Herculez Gomez through injury – but it wasn’t enough to stop Atlas coming from two goals behind in the last 20 minutes to take a point.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at email@example.com.
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