Goal, the New York Times Soccer Blog, has a nice post on the successful second half of the Xolos season: Tijuana Rising.
I had a short post a year ago, when Tijuana was first promoted to the Primera. Now they’re coming to the end of their first full season, and look to have had good success so far, both on and off the field:
The well-documented drug violence and ransom kidnappings that have ravaged Mexico in the past several years hit Tijuana — where tourism is a significant part of the economy — especially hard. At its destructive peak in 2008, there were 850 murders in the city. Main tourist drags like Avenida Revolución, for years a noisy kaleidoscope of gringo bars, strip clubs and chintzy souvenir stands, had become a desolate stretch of closed doors and increasingly aggressive vendors.
… But most noticeably, Xolos mania has swept the city. Where once the only soccer gear you could find was largely Chivas de Guadalajara, Club América or Chicharito’s Manchester United jerseys, the city is inescapably awash in the red and black of Xolo shirts, flags, hats and billboards, and Xolos stickers mark nearly every car.
“For a long time, Tijuana has been defined more by outsiders than by the people who actually live there,” said Adrian Florido, a border reporter for KPBS public radio in San Diego. “In the face of the tourism vacuum that the drug violence has brought on, it created this opportunity for Tijuanans to redefine the city for themselves. And the fact that they now have a first-rate soccer team has given people the chance to redefine the image of Tijuana for Tijuanans as a truly Mexican city, and not a second-rate American city.”
This kind of renewal after hitting rock bottom is great to read about. Robert Andrew Powell’s fascinating book This Love Is Not For Cowards: Salvation and Soccer in Ciudad Juárez (see my preview here) is a view of a similar scenario, though in Juárez it has now sadly gone off track after the Indios were relegated, and then folded entirely. The parallels, down to the ironic/appropriating name choices for supporters’ groups (La Massacre in Tijuana, El Kartel in Juarez), are clear. Although Powell hinted, at a recent reading for his book, that there are rumors that some of the money behind the Xolos may not be the cleanest, I still hope the team’s success continues. It’s a good story, and their side features several up-and-coming American players. And last but not least, I love their crest.
FMF State of Mind has a really interesting interview (part 1, part 2) with Robert Andrew Powell, the author of the forthcoming book, This Love Is Not For Cowards: Salvation and Soccer in Ciudad Juárez.
The story follows the (spoiler alert) now-defunct Indios de Ciudad Juárez, as they gain promotion to the Primera Division and fight to stay up, and to stay alive (almost literally).
From the interview:
These billion dollar stadiums [in American cities] are supposedly good for the community. Well, it was inarguable that the Indios were good for Juarez. It was the best case for what a sports team can do for an entire community. It gave people in Juarez something to focus on that was positive. As Francisco Ibarra told me, it was the only time you would hear the word Juarez on the news without the antecedent ‘bloody’ or ‘murderous.’ It was about soccer – an everyday thing – just like in every other city. It really was positive for everybody, and it was moving how positive it was.
It’s still deep off-season for MLS, and my own favorite team has made a move to bolster their attack: FC Dallas signs Blas Pérez and Hernan Pertúz.
Pérez, who will turn 31 on Feb. 13, scored 19 goals in 23 starts during his last full season with León of the Mexican second division. The 6-1 Panamanian had a strong showing at last summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup. He scored Panama’s first goal of the tournament just 29 minutes into its 3-2 win over Guadeloupe. He found the back of the net three times during the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
As a fan, I sure hope that Pérez is the striker Dallas has needed for some time. And I also hope that the remarkable number of club teams this guy has played for isn’t any indication that he’ll have trouble fitting in here in Texas. He’s 30, so he’s been at this for a while, but this is still quite a list he’s built up.
|1998–2000||Panamá Viejo (Panama)|
|2001–2002||Árabe Unido (Panama)|
|2005–2006||Deportivo Cali (Colombia)|
|2006–2007||Cúcuta Deportivo (Colombia)|
|2009||Pachuca (Mexico, loan)|
|2009||Al Wasl (Mexico, loan)|
|2010||San Luis (Mexico, loan)|
|2010–2011||León (Mexico, loan)|
|2011||Indios (Mexico, loan)|
|2012–||FC Dallas (USA)|
Carlos Ruiz’s whirlwind world tour embarks on its next leg, as the traveling striker is lured from MLS’ Philadelphia Union to Veracruz. Philly.com’s Jonathan Tannenwald has the story:
According to the source Ruiz stands to make upwards of $400,000-plus from his deal with second tier Mexican club Veracruz, a deal I am told was made because Veracruz believes “Fish” is its missing link in hopes of returning to Mexico’s top flight.
In honor of El Pescadito and his ongoing travels, and similar to our previous post on Herculez Gomez, here’s a visual history of his career (so far):
|2000–2001||PAS Giannina (Greece)|
|2002–2005||Los Angeles Galaxy (USA)|
|2005–2008||FC Dallas (USA)|
|2008||Los Angeles Galaxy (USA)|
|2008||Toronto FC (Canada)|
|2011||Philadelphia Union (USA)|
Congratulations and happy Shark Week to the little fish and the Red Sharks of Veracruz.
Fascinating article by American player Herculez Gomez, published by The Shin Guardian: Herculez Gomez: Pursuing The American Dream… Abroad. In it the author talks about taking the opportunities he’s been presented with, and contrasts them with how such career moves may look to some fans and observers.
But for me, and American footballer, a player whose career track has resembled a Plinko board, its much more than just money, its the football culture, its testing yourself amongst others regardless of salary considerations sometimes, its getting noticed by your national team–a high honor that should never be poo-pooed.
Here is Mr. Gomez’s playing history, complete with crests. In our opinion, he’s currently playing for the best-crested team of the lot, so far.
|2002||San Diego Gauchos|
|2002–2007||Los Angeles Galaxy|
|2003||Seattle Sounders (loan)|
|2004||San Diego Sockers (loan)|
|2008–2009||Kansas City Wizards|
The Mexican promotion winner and relegation loser have been decided for the season. On the positive side, Tijuana is moving up. As ESPN LA writer Scott French puts it, Primera Division goes to the Dogs:
It’s a massive boost to the region and to Tijuana’s identity as a major Mexican city, and Southern California soccer fans stand to benefit. The country’s big clubs — America and Guadalajara, Cruz Azul and Pumas UNAM, Monterrey and Toluca, Morelia and Pachuca — will play real, league matches just a short drive away, with the biggest foes, America and Chivas, possibly at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
We love the unique crest of Tijuana, or as they’re officially known, Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles De Caliente:
They’ll be taking the spot of Club Necaxa, who drop down to the 2nd division. Their crest isn’t bad, but in our opinion, the Primera División is definitely getting an upgrade in this swap.
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