How important are Americans to Club Tijuana, really?
That is a question on the minds of many US national team fans – and LA Galaxy fans, given the teams' CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series that starts Wednesday night (10 pm ET, Fox Soccer Plus) – these days. To American soccer fans, Tijuana may be the most familiar of Mexican clubs because the matriculation of Americans has made the Xolos appointment-viewing for many fans of the Stars and Stripes.
The stream of Americans started when Joe Corona joined Tijuana prior to the 2010 Clausura season, with the club, founded in 2007, still playing in the second division. Edgar Castillo and Greg Garza joined him two years later, in time for the 2012 Clausura season.
With these three, Tijuana won Liga MX in the 2012 Apertura season, defeating Toluca in the two-leg final. That success drew a veteran of the 2010 World Cup, Herculez Gomez, to Baja California prior to the 2013 Apertura season. All these player acquisitions have made Americans part of the backbone of the Xolos roster. Snagging then-18-year-old Paul Arriola from the Galaxy's academy system and giving 19-year-old Alejandro Guido his first minutes last Friday night only help to solidify the point.
The table below shows the percentage of Tijuana's total minutes that Americans have collected since the club's championship season. With all the new additions, Americans have seen a 50-percent increase in minutes.
|SEASON||% OF TEAM MINUTES PLAYED|
Despite the increase, Corona and Gomez have not been starting consistently this season. However, when they are not starting, they remain the team’s first options coming off the bench. With these six players, and many more in Tijuana’s youth system, coach Cesar Farias should be relying on Americans to make a major impact for the Xolos for years to come.
Several of them will be hoping to take center stage north of the border in the Champions League quarterfinals.