TIJUANA - Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente finished their participation in the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) last night after falling 2-0 to Cruz Azul (2-1 aggregate) in the second leg of the semifinals. With this elimination Tijuana Xolos concluded a year and a half of participating in international competitions between the Copa Libertadores and the CCL. Here is a look at what the Xoloitzcuintles have accomplished in those.
During these two international competitions Club Tijuana played 18 matches, won 10, tied 5, and lost 3. They scored a total of 28 goals and received 15.
The Xoloitzcuintles played their first ever international match in Colombia where they got a 0-1 win over the Colombian champions of the time Millonarios. Richard Ruiz scored the historic first international goal to give Xolos the win.
Club Tijuana then returned to the border where they hosted their first international match at the Estadio Caliente. A big 4-0 win over Bolivia’s San Jose was the result in that one. U.S. international Edgar Castillo scored the first international goal in the Estadio Caliente 4 minutes into that match.
Xolos went on to defeat the reigning FIFA Club World Cup Champions Corinthians 1-0 at home, before suffering their first international defeat 3-0 to the same Brazilian club. They rounded off the group stage with a 1-1 draw in the altitude of Bolivia and by once again beating Millonarios 1-0 at home.
Club Tijuana advanced to the knockout stage of the competition where they faced off against more Brazilian opposition. Xolos got a 0-0 draw at home against Palmeiras, then traveled south to the Amazon where they got a 1-2 win over the Brazilians to advance to the quarterfinals.
In the quarterfinals they met Ronaldinho’s Atletico Mineiro who would eventually become the tournament’s champions. Xolos never lost to Mineiro, in fact they were never down on the scoreboard. But a 2-2 draw at home plus a 1-1 draw in Brazil gave Ronaldinho and his side the semifinals ticket on away goal rule.It has to be said that a last minute penalty in the second leg that Colombian striker Duvier Riascos missed was the big difference in Xolos being advancing to final four and being eliminated.
CONCACAF Champions League
After going toe-to-toe with South America’s best Club Tijuana now had their eyes set on the region’s international competition the CCL. They once again made their tournament debut on the road. A 0-0 draw in El Salvador against Luis Angel Firpo was how the Xolos kicked off their CCL participation.
The very next game in the CCL was in Honduras against Club Deportivo Victoria. Xolos got a 2-3 win. American forward Paul Arriola got the team’s first CCL goal in the 12 minute of the match.
Xolos closed out the group stage by hosting their first CCL game in which they beat L.A. Firpo 1-0 with a Fidel Martinez goal followed by a huge 6-0 win at the Estadio Caliente over CD Victoria.
With the group stage results Club Tijuana advanced to the quarterfinals of the competition where they were set to meet local MLS rivals Los Angeles Galaxy. Tijuana suffered only their second ever loss in international competitions in the first leg of the series; Galaxy took the 1-0 win in that one.
Xolos overcame the first leg loss, and with a 4-2 win at home in the return leg they were able to seal their ticket to the semifinals of the CCL. The team’s first ever final four appearance in an international competition.
In the semifinals Xolos faced local Liga MX rival Cruz Azul. They managed a 1-0 win at home in the first leg. This was Club Tijuana’s first ever win over Cruz Azul in seven meeting since Xolos were promoted to first division back in 2011. In the return leg Cruz Azul were able to make their home field advantage count and overturned the first leg loss.
WHAT DO XOLOS NEED TO RETURN TO AN INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION?
In order for Club Tijuana to once again participate in an international competition they will have to reach the final of the Clausura 2014 tournament. They would then join the other finalist, Club America and Leon in the 2014/15 CONCACAF Champions League which is set to start in the fall of 2014. Club Tijuana are currently in a playoff position in the league table with three games remaining in the regular season; with their strong home field advantage a run to the final is not out of the team’s reach.
In order to qualify for the 2015 Copa Libertadores, the Xoloitzcuintles will have to finish in the top two positions of the league table next season (Apertura 2014). They also have to avoid qualification into the CCL. If they reach the final this season and by consequence get that CCL entry; they will not be allowed to participate in the Copa Libertadores.