SAN DIEGO, CA - MARCH 2: Goalkeeper Adrian Zermeno #19 of Club Tijuana celebrates the first goal of the game against the Los Angeles Galaxy at the exhibition game at Torero Stadium on March 2, 2011 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)
“Bienvenida a Tijuana,” goes that Manu Chau song and indeed it is with a big welcome that Club Tijuana, the unpronouncable Xoloitzcuintles, come into the Primera División for their debut season.
The club represents a sorely missed geographical region in the Mexican top flight: the borderlands.
Tickets have been selling like hot cakes for the team´s opening fixture against Morelia on Saturday and a sell-out was announced by the club Thursday.
Anticipation is high, the atmosphere in the Estadio Caliente is likely to be electric and the club is pulling no punches in terms of ambition.
“The objective of Club Tijuana is more than consolidating its place in the Primera División,” reads a recent press statement from the club. “The fight for titles that the top flight offers is the main factor that drives the rojinegros to stamp an indelible mark on the elite of Mexican football.”
With such serious intent and new signings Leandro, José Sand and Javier Yacuzi on board, the Xolos are obliged to attack Saturday against Morelia, last season´s beaten finalists. The game should be a humdinger.
Morelia started off last season with a 5-0 loss against Atlas but gradually gained momentum as the season progressed. This time around, coach Tomas Boy will want the team off to a flyer in cauldron that will be the Estadio Caliente.
Expect Tijuana to come out the blocks fast with Morelia trying to hold them at bay and hit them hard on the counter-attack, especially through speedy wingers Joao Rojas and Jaime Lozano.
Morelia was given a timely boost on the eve of the game with the news Rafa Márquez Lugo, last season´s top scorer including the playoffs, has signed a three year contract with the club. Fears were spread that he was about to leave for Europe due to Morelia refusing to meet his wage demands. Alongside Miguel Sabah, Morelia´s strike duo should pose more than a threat.
Keep your eyes firmly fixed on this one. Whatever happens, Saturday is an historic day for Tijuana.