Xolos' Garza making best of the opportunity

Backup defender starts in place of injured Castillo in Tijuana´s win against Jaguares

TIJUANA –The Tweet appeared a few hours before kickoff Friday night.

"Good luck, teammates. Let's go get the three points. I won't be on the field but I will return soon. Let's get the win."

That's what Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles defender Edgar Castillo posted on his Twitter account. The starting right back would miss the Xolos 2-0 win against Jaguares at Estadio Caliente Friday night.

Castillo sat out with what club officials said is a "muscular injury."

The team also didn't say when Castillo is expected to return.

In the meantime, Greg Garza is getting the opportunity he has been waiting for. The 21-year-old born in Grapevine, Texas has spent most of the 2012 Apertura season on the bench. Sure, he has played in six official matches for Tijuana. His seventh was Friday night. He started in place of Castillo at right back and he played a similar role as Castillo.

It was Garza's first start in this tournament. He has played in the Copa MX, an in season domestic tournament featuring teams from the Mexican First and Second divisions. Clubs mostly use backups and players from its reserve teams during that tournament.

It was a bit different for Garza Friday. He was under the lights under a loud regular season crowd.

He roamed the right flank, often sprinting up and down chasing passes and opponents.

He helped the Xolos five-man backline and goalkeeper Cirilo Saucedo to the club's fourth shutout and third-straight win this season.

The Xolos are 5-1-1 with 16 points in the standings tied for first place with Toluca heading into this weekend's games. Toluca plays Club America Sunday.

"The league (championship) and the Copa are equal," Garza said earlier this season. "We have one objective and that is to win every game."

And perhaps the objective is to also play in as many games as possible.

Garza has worked for that chance.

He is somewhat of a journeyman.

He has been to places where he had to try and learn a different language, or at least understand a little bit of it to get around. He has played soccer in three different continents.

Garza has been to Brazil and Portugal, and now Mexico. All three places where he had to take a step back to move forward in his soccer career.

Just when it appeared his career would get a jump start, he made a move. He left to another country.

His last move brought him to the U.S.-Mexico border region.

Estoril offered a new contract but Garza didn't want it.

"Once I left Portugal, my wife and I bounced around for a while," Garza said. "I got to a point where I decided that a new challenge was needed and I wanted a new opportunity somewhere else. I had the opportunity to renew my contract for two more years in May of 2011, but I said no, to seek out that new chance.

"It's been a long road to get here to Tijuana, for about five months I was unattached. That was hard, as you have to keep providing for your family, but it definitely paved the way for me to arrive in Mexican football."

Garza has settled in Tijuana. He and his wife live here. He said it was an uneasy move at first. The couple had heard all the talk about difficulties in the city, violence, drug cartels and other crime.

"You can tell it's changed now. From the very first day here, I've absolutely loved it," Garza said. "The city and people are amazing, and everything has been perfect so far."

And so far, he is impressing Xolos coach Antonio Mohamed enough to place him in the starting line up in the regular tournament.

How long Garza lasts at that role depends on Castillo's recovery. Castillo also Tweeted that he was at rehab at a local clinic. He promised he'd be back soon. The Xolos don't play for another two weeks. Castillo could be back by then. For now, Garza will most likely soak in the moment.



  • Facebook

  • SanDiegoRed

  • New

  • Best

    Recent News more