Summer friendlies have become standard throughout Major League Soccer, and with room in their schedule, Real Salt Lake have joined the mix this year, announcing on Thursday that they will host Mexican club Tijuana in a friendly at Rio Tinto Stadium on Aug. 12.
Having missed out on the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League by the narrowest of margins (a 1-0 loss in the US Open Cup final, a penalty-kick loss in the MLS Cup final, and a change to the rule on how CCL participants are decided), Real Salt Lake will still get a taste of international competition against a club by now familiar to MLS fans.
Tijuana finished eighth in the combined Liga MX standings last season, missing the playoffs with a 10th-place finish in the fall Apertura and then reaching the postseason with a 7th-place finish in the spring Clausura campaign before falling to favored Toluca. Tijuana beat the LA Galaxy in the Champions League quarterfinals before losing to Cruz Azul in the semifinals.
Even after Herculez Gomez (Tigres) and Edgar Castillo (Atlas Guadalajara) left the club, the Xolos roster still includes three Americans who are regulars with the first team in defender Greg Garza and midfielders Paul Arriola and Joe Corona. American youth internationals Alejandro Guido, Amando Moreno and Stevie Rodriguez are also part of the squad. Yet another American-born player, 17-year-old Fernando Arce, made his first-team debut in March.
Including friendlies, Real Salt Lake are 3-4-2 all-time against Mexican clubs and 10-6-4 at home against clubs from outside the US and Canada.