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Club Tijuana Goes for the Gold in Brazil

The crew from Mexico travels south for a second leg against Atlético Mineiro. Plus, you know you want to know what happened in the Central American domestic leagues.
BY Jon Arnold Posted
May 30, 2013
4:45 PM
Tijuana is in Brazil trying to prepare for Thursday night’s second leg against Atlético Mineiro, which kicks at 9 p.m. ET and can be seen on Fox Deportes. I say they’re trying because Wednesday’s training was a bit tougher than usual, mainly because it had to be conducted in the dark. If you’re in the dark about how the first leg went, we’ll bring you up to speed. Tijuana started about as well as it could’ve. Duvier Ricascos gave Xolos the 1-0 advantage at halftime after a back-heel pass from Alfredo Moreno. Tijuana increased the advantage in the 53rd minute when Moreno got in on goal and forced a save. The rebound fell to Fidel Martinez who was able to finish.

The Brazilians had been hit but an unlucky deflection on a corner saw Gala pull one back and the visitors found the equalizer in stoppage time because of a lapse from Xolos’ usually sure center backs. Edgar Castillo played the full 90 while Joe Corona came on in the 72nd minute.

Trailing 2-2 on aggregate, Tijuana needs to win in Brazil or draw at a score larger than 2-2 since away goals are the tiebreaker. The winner moves to the Copa Libertadores semifinals against Newell’s Old Boys, which won a thrilling penalty shootout over Boca Juniors last night in Argentina.

Liga MX Final
Mexican City rivals Club América and Cruz Azul played a thrilling pair of matches to decide the Clausura title. Cruz Azul grabbed the 1-0 advantage in its home match Thursday, winning 1-0.

The championship was within reach and seemed to be in La Maquina’s grasp when Jesus Molina was sent off for América in the 14th minute and Teófilo Guiterrez scored six minutes later at the Azteca to put his club up 2-0 on aggregate.

But down a man and with only minutes remaining, las Aguilas got a goal through an inventive Aquivaldo Mosquera header. Still trailing 2-1 on aggregate, and with no away goals tiebreaker, América needed a goal to send the match into extra time. It came in the 93rd minute when the goalkeeper, Moises Muñoz, torpedoed in to head a corner. It took a deflection and went into the back of the net for the equalizer. Neither team could break through in extra time, and the match went to a shoot out. Javier Orozco and Alejandro Castro couldn’t convert, putting Cruz Azul in a hole it couldn’t climb out of, and América became champions for the 11th time, putting them level with Chivas.
International friendlies
Teams continue to prepare for the matches that actually matter. The build-up isn’t quite as important, so we’ll try to parse out some important details.

Gio dos Santos got his release from Mallorca and will join Mexico ahead of its Friday friendly with Nigeria. That’s big because it previously looked like Gio wouldn’t be able to play in the qualifier June 4 against Jamaica because of a late release. That qualifier was moved earlier because of Mexico’s participation in the Confederations Cup.

The opponent, Jamaica, has run into some tumultuous times, as we mentioned in this week’s Hex Foes Abroad. Coach Theo Whitmore said this week cutting Luton Shelton, the country’s all-time leading goalscorer was a tough decision but he needs more production from his strikers, including MLS players Ryan Johnson and Darren Mattocks.

Costa Rica used an inexperienced side as Jorge Luis Pinto looks to find the depth in his roster. The Ticos won 1-0 on a Jairo Arrieta penalty. Pinto made his final roster cuts today. Honduras continues preparations in Florda for a friendly against Israel in New York on Sunday and Panama plays Peru in a warm-up match Friday.
Central American Domestic Leagues
We have more CONCACAF Champions this week with Costa Rica and El Salvador crowning champions.

Herediano trailed 3-1 heading into its home leg with Cartaginés but finished the match up 2-0 and forced extra time against a visiting side reduced to 10 men in the 37th minute. Both teams scored in extra time, making the mark 4-4 and sending the match into penalties where “El Team” came out on top. Herediano is champion for the 23rd time. Firpo jumped out to an early lead thanks to a penalty and never looked back, beating FAS 3-0 for the title in El Salvador.
Other CCL qualifying
The Montreal Impact will represent Canada in the Champions League, thanks to a 2-2 draw that sees the club through on away goals. And Cartaginés, the runner-up in the Costa Rican Clausura, will also be in the tournament, taking the spot allocated to the Belmopan Bandits of Belize. CONCACAF has again found no venue in the country suitable to hold matches and awarded that spot to the third-place team in the Central American country that had a team advance farthest in the previous tournament. Guatemala was also in the running for the third slot.

Belize hasn’t had a team in the competition since the Hankook Verdes lost to Cruz Azul 6-0 in both preliminary round matches of the 2008-09 competition. The Verdes played the home leg in Guatemala in front of a mostly empty stadium. That also means the entire field is set (baring unforeseen circumstances). The draw will be conducted June 3 in Miami.

Video of the Week
We just showed you highlights from the last time a team from Belize was in the Champions League, and you still want more?

Here’s the only chance you’ll have at seeing Belmopan Bandits since they won’t be playing in the Champions League. It’s highlights from a match from last year. Enjoy. Jon Arnold (@ArnoldcommaJon) is a writer based in Arizona and is ASN's CONCACAF correspondent.

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