Miguel Angel Garcia and Michael Hitchcock's teams will play for the Rio Grande Plate.
FC Dallas

FC Dallas, Tigres UANL join forces

FC Dallas and Mexican club Tigres UANL announced Tuesday from Pizza Hut Park a new partnership between the clubs which will extend across the playing field and throughout both front offices.

"Tigres' success on and off the field is a tribute to their strong ownership, an outstanding management team and a true commitment to excellence," said FC Dallas general manager Michael Hitchcock. "As an organization FC Dallas shares those commitments to excellence -- we feel like we have a very strong group as well.

"Any time you can share those same variables and the same essential ingredients, you have an amazing foundation for the development of this partnership."

On the field, the teams will compete in the Rio Grande Plate, which will be a home-and-home competition with the first edition being played July 19 in Dallas and July 26 in Monterrey, Mexico. The series between the teams will be decided by aggregate goals.

As well, the teams will have access to each other's training grounds, with Tigres training in Frisco prior to the 2006 Clausura and FC Dallas heading to Monterrey for training prior to the 2007 MLS season.

Tigres is one of the most famous clubs in Mexico and has seen great success recently having qualified for two consecutive berths in the Copa Libertadores, the South American club championship. The Monterrey club won the 2006 InterLiga, which was a starting point for the deal as Tigres spent a long weekend in Frisco during January.

Tigres is a force not only on the field, but the club has also made great strides in the front office. Mexican fans have historically provided a primarily walk-up crowd as far as ticket sales are concerned, but Tigres sold more than 30,000 season tickets for the current season -- nearly three times that of the next team's total.

The expertise from Tigres in selling tickets could come in handy for FC Dallas as they have always tried to reach out to the Hispanic audience in Dallas but with mixed results.

"Yes it will, and I think Monterrey is just over an hour away by air," said Lamar Hunt, investor-operator of FC Dallas. "We felt it was very important to have an association with a Mexican team and we've created this Rio Grande Plate. We have a two-year agreement for 2006 and 2007 -- we expect that it will be a much longer lasting agreement than that, but we wanted to kind of put our toe in the water and see how it looks. I think it's going to be very positive."

Scott Joiner is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

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