SAN DIEGO – Coach Antonio Mohamed led Club Tijuana through their final training prior to facing Club America on Saturday in the San Diego Clasico at Qualcomm stadium. Aside from the title that is up for grabs, both teams are preparing for the upcoming Apertura 2012 season of the Liga MX.
Being a border town squad, Xolos have won many fans in Southern California, and the San Diego area. Some fans travel to Tijuana to watch the Aztec dogs play at the Caliente stadium. Those who cannot afford to make the trip south of the border will have the opportunity to see their team in action on U.S. soil.
“We’re very happy to be playing out here,” midfielder and Tijuana native Fernando Arce said after practice. “We have a lot of fans in California. This game will give them the opportunity to watch us play without having to go to Tijuana. They can come out to cheer on their favorite team.”
The game also gives U.S. Men’s National Team member Joe Corona the opportunity to play in San Diego once again. Corona began his career with Nomads SC before moving to the San Diego State University soccer program. Corona made his debut with Xolos during the 2009/2010 season and has constantly earned playing time under Mohamed.
“It’s going to be a great game against a very exciting team,” the attacking midfielder and former San Diego resident said. “It’s a beautiful field. I’d been here as a fan, now I get the chance to play here and contribute to my team.”
Mohamed led practice with short passing drills as well as set piece coordination to prepare the squad for the game. Newly acquired Fidel Martinez and Alfredo Moreno were also on the pitch as they try to adjust to their new team.
Club America Coach Miguel Herrera also led his team through practice with conditioning exercises and inter-squad play. Herrera is travelling with a squad that relies heavily on youth system players, with a few key stars competing for future spots on the team.
“It doesn’t seem like just a friendly match,” defender Paul Aguilar said. “We’re taking the game very seriously since this is preseason play. We’re all trying to win a spot on the regular team and that will push us to give the best we have.”
Former Celtic FC defensive midfielder Efrain Juarez is also travelling with the squad as he tries to regain form and earn playing time after his stint in Europe.
The Xolos are trying to win their third San Diego Clasico. They previously defeated Major League Soccer squads Chivas USA and the Los Angeles Galaxy. For this Clasico they face Mexico City giants Club America.