GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Five US-born players were involved in Club Tijuana’s 3-2 victory over Honduran outfit Victoria in the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday evening, but once again it was 18-year-old Paul Arriola who stole the headlines with the opening goal of the game.
Arriola struck first time in the 11th minute – after kickoff in Honduras had been delayed two hours due to a power outage caused by an electrical storm – guiding the ball in from close range after a perfect cushioned header by Aldo Polo sent him clean through on goal.
The young winger switched between the wings regularly and caused problems all night for Victoria with his pace, going close to furthering his tally in the 35th, when his left foot shot was cleared off the line by an opposition defender.
Greg Garza looked confident at left back in an energetic 90-minute display, racking up his fourth start of the season on a difficult field that was rain-soaked for much of the game. San Diego-born Bruno Piceno also started for Xolos, coming off in the 70th.
US internationals Joe Corona and Edgar Castillo were both held back on the bench, with a Liga MX game in Tijuana against Santos Laguna on Friday in mind, but came on later in the game.
Corona entered in the 74th in central midfield and almost netted Tijuana’s fourth in injury time with a curled effort that sailed just by the right-hand post. Castillo – who came on in the 80th and chipped the ‘keeper from outside the area with just minutes remaining, but the ball sailed a few inches over the crossbar.
The victory improves Xolos to four points from their two games in Group 7, three points ahead of Luis Ángel Firpo, with whom Tijuana drew in the first round of matches.
Elsewhere on Wednesday evening in Copa MX action, Benji Joya played the second half for Santos Laguna in their 0-0 draw at Cruz Azul Hidalgo in his return to first-team action after featuring for the US in the U-20 World Cup.
Center back Ventura Alvarado played the full game for Necaxa, but Los Rayos fell 1-0 away to Liga MX outfit León, while Ernest Nungaray went 90 minutes in Correcaminos’ 3-2 win over Puebla at Estadio Cuauhtémoc.
Finally, former Guadalajara and Chivas USA forward Jesus Padilla netted from the penalty spot in the 69th for Dorados de Sinaloa, but it wasn’t enough as Guadalajara ran out 3-2 winners.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.