Club Tijuana's Fernando Arce (left) in 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League action against Luis Angel Firpo. (Photo: Salvador Melendez)
TIJUANA, Mexico – For Mexico, he has appeared in qualifying cycles for three World Cups, now Club Tijuana’s Fernando Arce wants to play in the Club World Cup.
The midfielder will have the chance to do so, when the Xolos visit the LA Galaxy on Wednesday for the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) quarterfinal series.
“It would be a big step to play a Club World Cup, representing Tijuana, representing Mexico,” Arce told CONCACAF.com. “For Tijuana, it would be extraordinary to be able to be in the next Club World Cup.”
For as extraordinary as that achievement would be, the club’s rise since its founding in 2007 has been equally meteoric.
In a little more than seven years, it has won Liga MX (2012 Apertura) and Liga de Ascenso (2010 Apertura) titles, and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2013 Copa Libertadores.
Success in the CCL would clearly be another significant achievement on a burgeoning list of honors.
“To win the Champions League represents a lot,” affirmed Arce, who played in the 1997 FIFA U-17 World Cup. “It would be another important step in my career, but we are going step by step. We have a difficult match against Los Angeles, but we are aware of what we are playing for and what we want, so for me, it means a lot to win it.”
The 33-year-old made a point to stress, though, that the team is only thinking about the Galaxy and not the later rounds.
“We are going to fight until the end,” he continued. “It is a tournament on which we are placing much importance because we know what it means and what it means to win it, and the first step for us to think about beating Los Angeles and then be in the next round.”
Arce also understands what lifting the CCL trophy would mean to the city of Tijuana, whose people have supported the Xolos with sensational passion and pride.
“It is the ultimate achievement that the city can have,” explained Arce. “We have already been champions of Mexican football and we want to transcend to the international level. We participated already in the Copa Libertadores and to play in a Club World Cup would be the icing on the cake. I think that it would be essential for the city of Tijuana.
“The importance that we have to give to that tournament should be the utmost because we know that the reward is big.”