Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles players ran to the north sideline Wednesday night.
They tossed team memorabilia into the stands at USD's Torero Stadium, sending fans into a frenzy as the crowd vied for the free items.
It didn't matter that the players launching the gifts were not the Xolos regular starters. Tijuana supporters instead got to see the Xolos come-from-behind to beat Major League Soccer's Chivas USA 5-2 in a friendly match.
The nearly-full stadium with mostly Tijuana fans got to see a Xolos makeshift line-up against a Chivas USA squad using most of its starters in its preseason.
Regardless, the crowd remained festive in what was called the San Diego Clásico, in its second edition. Tijuana beat the Los Angeles Galaxy with David Beckham in penalty kicks last year.
No international stars or dramatic PKs this time.
Chivas USA doesn't carry household names and Tijuana coach Antonio Mohamed rested his starters ahead of this weekend’s Primera División league home match against Toluca.
The Xolos are in the middle of the Clausura tournament and are among the top 10 teams in the standings, with 12 points, heading into the eighth week of the 17-game season.
Against Chivas USA, the sister team of Mexico's Chivas de Guadalajara, Mohamed did use Mauro Gerk, Raul Enríquez, Miguel Almazán and Adrián Zermeño, all substitutes.
Enríquez tied the match 1-1 in the 57th minute via a header while Gerk scored the go-ahead goal in the 64th minute with a header that Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy bobbled but appeared to have stopped. But the line judge ruled it a goal.
Leandro Fernández, who has seen some playing time with the First Division team coming off the bench, scored twice for Tijuana, in the 79th minute and seconds prior to the final whistle. His first came on a right-footed blast from about 25-yards out.
“I like to kick from that distance,” said Fernández, who the Xolos signed last month. “I hit it well and it came out better than I thought it would.”
Noel Maya converted a PK three minutes later to cap the scoring.
All this while some of the Xolos regular starters sat on the team bench.
Joe Corona, the Sweetwater High alum, Fernando Arce, Jose Sand, Javier Gandolfi and goalkeeper Cirilo Saucedo watched Mohamed's mixture of reserves and back-ups. There was even Bruno Piceno from the Under-20 squad roaming the left wing.
Piceno drew a foul that prompted a red card for Chivas USA's Miler Bolanos seconds before halftime.
Michael Lahoud (36th minute) and Casey Townsend (88th) scored for Chivas USA.
“This was a great opportunity for a lot of my teammates,” Corona said about Wednesday's match. “It's a process. Every player wants to be on the first team. They are working at it. I've accomplished to be where I want to be at. Coming to play here is a way to show that we appreciate our fans here. We know there is a great fan base here and we are proud of that.”
Goals of the match, video courtesy of TJ Sports.