Action from from the CONCACAF Champions League game between visiting Club Tijuana (red) and Luis Angel Firpo on August 6, 2013, in San Salvador, El Salvador. (Photo: Salvador Melendez)
By Ivan Orozco
TIJUANA –Club Tijuana’s journey to Central America for last week’s CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) encounter against Victoria of Honduras was, to say the least, eventful.
There was the travel that took the team from the Mexico-United States border to Mexico City to San Salvador and, ultimately, to La Ceiba. There was a long bus ride from the airport through winding roads that hugged tropical landscapes. Topping it off, once the team arrived at the Estadio Ceibeño on game day, a massive lightning storm -- accompanied by torrential rain -- delayed the start of the match.
Jorge Almiron’s team won’t have to worry about lengthy travel or adverse weather conditions on Wednesday, when his Xolos – in their first-ever home CCL match -- host Luis Angel Firpo at the Estadio Caliente. The forecast calls for sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 70s Fahrenheit (mid 20s Celsius) at kick-off in one Mexico’s largest urban centers.
Tijuana is unbeaten at home this season in LIGA MX play with a 1-2-0 record, including a 1-1 tie with Santos on Saturday in which Jesus Escoboza netted a late equalizer for the visitors. The physically draining encounter may compel Almiron to rotate his increasingly deep and youthful squad.
“We take each game seriously,” he said. “We know that this is a tough competition and we respect that. The team felt tired (against Santos Laguna last week) so we have to make some changes.”
Against Victoria, Almiron used some of the younger members of the roster and that shrewd use of personnel paid dividends in a 3-2 win. Forward Paul Arriola, 18, scored the game’s oepning goal.
In their first meeting on August 6 in El Salvador, Firpo and Tijuana played to a scoreless draw. The Salvadorans have only one win four all-time CCL road outings and need three points to prevent the 2012 Mexican Apertura champion from expanding its lead atop the Group 7 table.