Sounders FC announced Thursday that it will host Mexican side Club Tijuana for a friendly on March 24. Based just south of the Mexico-United States border, Club Tijuana is one of the strongest teams in Liga MX, the top flight in Mexico.
Not familiar with the club? Here are all the facts you need to know about Xolos.
Connections to the United States
American Current Players: Club Tijuana has seven American players on its roster. The most notable is 24-year-old midfielder Joe Corona, who has two goals in 14 appearances for the U.S. Men’s National Team. Corona has spent his entire professional career with Xolos.
American Former Players: Among the USA internationals who have played for Tijuana are U.S. National Team veterans Herculez Gomez and Edgar Castillo. Gomez, who also spent some time with the USL Sounders in 2003, is the first player to have won both the MLS Cup and Mexico's Primera Division title. He and Castillo were part of the USA squad that won the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Gomez is currently on loan with Puebla, while Castillo has moved on to Atlas.
Geographical: Tijuana is just 25 miles south of San Diego. It is located closer to five MLS cities than any of the Xolos’ domestic opponents, as the nearest Liga MX team is over 1,000 miles away.
American Fans: It’s estimated that between 20 and 30 percent of the club’s fans at matches make the trip across the border from the USA. Most of those people come from San Diego, where Xolos gear can be purchased at the only Liga MX team shop in the country.
Academy In USA: In 2012, Xolos established a youth academy in suburban San Diego.
Women’s Team: The club also boasts a women’s team that will begin playing in the USA-based Women’s Premier Soccer League this May.
League Playoff Format: Liga MX is similar to MLS in that it uses a playoff system to crown its champion. After all 18 teams face each other once in the regular season, the top eight clubs qualify for the playoffs. The calendar year is broken into two seasons in Liga MX (Apertura and Clausura), with a champion crowned every six months.
Various aspects of the club
Manager: Tijuana has had eight different managers since the club’s inception in 2007. Daniel Guzman, the man currently at the helm, is a former Mexican National Team striker and veteran Liga MX manager.
Stadium: The club plays home matches at Estadio Caliente, which has artificial turf similar to what the Sounders play on at CenturyLink Field. The stadium’s capacity is 25,333.
Supporters: Fan activity before Xolos’ matches is said to resemble tailgating at a college football game in the USA. The club's largest supporter group calls itself “La Massacre” (the Massacre).
Mascot: Xolos is short for Xoloitzcuintles, a type of hairless dog native to Mexico.
On-field success past and present
First Title: Tijuana won its first trophy in 2010, a championship in the Mexican second division. By defeating Veracruz 3-0 in the Final, Xolos was one step closer to reaching the top flight.
Promotion To Primera: Irapuato FC won the very next second-division title, meaning it would battle Tijuana for promotion to Liga MX. After holding Irapuato to a 0-0 draw on the road in the First Leg, Xolos secured promotion with a 2-1 victory in the home Second Leg.
Mexican Champions: By winning the 2012 Apertura, Tijuana became the fastest club to win a championship following promotion to Mexico’s top flight. Xolos allowed just 15 goals in 17 matches – tied for the lowest mark in the league – leading up to that year’s playoffs. Their title was captured via a 4-1 aggregate victory over Toluca in the Final.
International: Tijuana made it to the semifinals of the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League, defeating the LA Galaxy 4-3 on aggregate in the quarterfinals.
2014-2015: After finishing 11th and missing the playoffs last season, Xolos is back near the top of the standings six matches into the new campaign. The club is currently 4-1-1, including victories over the top two sides from last season. Led by Colombian striker Dayro Moreno (four goals), Tijuana has found the back of the net a league-high 13 times.