10113_coronacastillo_isi_usmntjt090913144 John Todd/isiphotos.com

The Boys Are Back in TJ or Maybe They Never Left

It's been too long since we took a trip around the region. Jon Arnold offers up a meaty update on all the big stories from the past week in CONCACAF, starting with little old Tijuana.
BY Jon Arnold Posted
October 01, 2013
4:32 PM
Tijuana dropped a 2-0 result in Puebla with the home team scoring a goal in both halves to send Xolos back to the border with its tail between its legs. The result drops the team to 12th in the Liga MX table, a full six points out of the playoff positions. Tijuana is yet to win a league match away from home this season in five attempts.

Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona started the match, Paul Arriola replaced Corona at halftime and Herculez Gomez made his first league appearance in the 59th minute as a substitute. Greg Garza was an unused substitute.

Earlier in the week, Gomez came on in the second half of Tijuana’s CONCACAF Champions League match, but that was all the time he needed to score a hat trick in his Tijuana debut.

The accomplishment came against Honduran side Victoria in the CONCACAF Champions League. Xolos had already qualified for the knockout stage of the group, and there wasn’t much for Victoria to play for. Wunderkid Arriola also had a goal in the 6-0 romp, Garza went the full 90, Corona started and went a half, and Kevin Hoyos went the full 90 for the visitors.

Off the pitch, a bunch of the American contingent along with some other Xolos hung out at Petco Park in San Diego where fans could get a sweet Padres-Xolos combo scarf.

They'll be back in action Tuesday evening, playing América in a contest that was originally set to take place in round 2 but was rescheduled because of Gold Cup absences.

Americans in Liga MX
Jose Torres came off at the half this weekend in Tigres' 2-2 draw with the Gallos Blancos of Queretaro. He previously scored for Tigres in a 3-2 Copa MX loss to Santos during the week. It’s his first goal for the club. DaMarcus Beasley returned to action for Puebla against Xolos after missing the match Torres and Tigres with a hamstring problem. Teammate Michael Orozco played the full 90 of the win against Tijuana and the scoreless draw against Tigres. Neither player was in the Puebla team in a 1-1 cup draw with Monterrey, but the Ryados’ American, Alonso Hernandez, went the full 90.

Memo returns, King Carlos Stays Away
Star goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa will return to the Mexico national team under new manager Victor Vucetich, but Carlos Vela won’t return to the club for crucial qualifiers against Panama and Costa Rica.

It’s an interesting quandary for Vela, who has been the Mexican player in the best form of any in a foreign league but hasn’t appeared for El Tri since 2011. It was speculated Vela would accept a call-up from the new manager but the Director of National Teams in Mexico, Hector Gonzalez Inarritu, says Vela didn’t feel 100 percent about the decision to join the team.

On the one hand, Vela could come into the team now, find immediate success, and become a national hero. On the other, he could join Mexico for these final two games and become associated with a group that fails to qualify for the World Cup. If he’s still welcome, and it’s hard to imagine a player of his caliber wouldn’t be despite the previous issues, it could be a savvy move to wait until qualification is secured to make a triumphant return, even if it’s not exactly the most patriotic move.

El Salvador Bans
The Salvadoran league began its second go-round this weekend as everyone in the 10-team league had played each other once. It did it, however, without 14 players who have been handed lifetime bans because of match manipulation allegations. Four players, including Fito Zelaya, the star of the national team, remain under investigation and should know their fate within the month.

Dagoberto Portillo, Dennis Alas, Luis Anaya, Osael Romero, Ramon Sanchez, Christian Castillo, Miguel Granada, Miguel Montes, Darwin Bonilla, Ramon Flores, Alfredo Pacheco, Mordecai Henriquez, Marvin Gonzalez and Reynaldo Hernandez are the 14 players banned.

Teams hit by the bans, handed down September 20, had 15 days from the ruling to sign replacement players.

Honduran Forwards
A Honduran forward transferring to a foreign league isn't too rare an occurrence, but 25-year-old Rony Martinez is leaving Real Sociedad in Honduras to join Zakho in Iraq. He was the team's leading scorer last year with a dozen goals and had three this campaign. Martinez is also a fringe national team player, contributing at the Gold Cup this summer.

He'll hope his transfer goes better than the last Honduran forward to head overseas, Roger Rojas. His was a strange saga in which the teenage son of the West Ham chairman broke the news that Rojas had failed his medical and would not sign with the London club. Now "Ro-Ro" is back with Olimpia where Antony Lozano has picked up the slack in his absence. Lozano's six goals put him second in the Liga Nacional this season and Rojas scored on his return September 21. Neither forward, however, could net at Real Sociedad where Olimpia was handed its second loss of the season, 2-0.

Jones, Cyrus on the outs at W Connection
Two of Trinidad and Tobago's brightest young players might be forced to leave its best team. Joevin Jones and Daneil Cyrus, the captain and vice-captain of W Connection, haven't played after it was discovered they were playing for their local minor league team. This understandably infuriated manager Stuart Charles-Fevrier, who has been trying to manage the players' heavy workload between Connection's now-over CONCACAF Champions League campaign, the league, and the cup.

The president of the club said no course of action would be ruled out, including dismissal from the club. If that should happen, there would be plenty of other clubs both inside and outside the region happy to snap up the 22-year-olds, but by Monday Connection's assistant coach was referring to the incident as a minor disciplinary issue, so it seems likely there will be a way back for the duo. In either case, they've both been eyed by foreign clubs and aren't likely to be with the club for too much longer.

Quickly taken
  • Rafael Callejas, the president of the Honduran FA (Fenafuth), had said it would be unacceptable for Guatemalan referee Walter Lopez to officiate his country's qualifier against Costa Rica. He said he's satisfied with the appointment of American Jair Marrufo along with a team of Jamaican assistants for the qualifier, marking the first time someone has been excited to see Marrufo in the center for a match.

  • Akeem Adams, who has several caps with the Trinidad and Tobago national team, is in critical condition after suffering a massive heart attack in Hungary, where he plays his domestic football. Reports indicate he squeezed his mother's hand this weekend and his condition is improving very slowly.

  • You won't be seeing Jermaine Hue suit up for Jamaica for a while. He's been suspended for nine months after the 35-year-old tested positive for dexamethasone after a 2-0 loss to Honduras in June. The former Kansas City Wizards player and current Harbour View midfielder started a Hex match against the U.S. just days earlier. Carlton Fraser, the national team doctor, has been banned from football for four years for administering the drug.

  • I like this tweet with no context:

  • Costa Rica is hosting the 2014 U-17 Women's World Cup, so there are just two CONCACAF berths at stake when the regional qualifying tournament takes place in late October and early November in Jamaica. United States coach B.J. Snow has called in his roster for the tournament (minus a goalkeeper to be named later) ahead of the October draw.

  • Speaking of women's soccer, Tim Grainey chatted with Shek Borkowski about the Haiti women's national team coach's idea to put a Caribbean team in the NWSL.

    Video of the Week
    Costa Rican rivals Sparissa and Alajuelense had a fantastic match in their most recent clásico. It ended in a 4-4 draw. Enjoy some extended highlights below: In the next Saprissa match, American Moises Hernandez, who I jinxed by writing about him before the year, made his season debut in a 2-0 win against Belen Siglo XXI. He won't be on the pitch again any time soon. He was sent off and had his suspension extended to three matches. He also faces a total fine of 200,000 Costa Rican Colóns, which I believe is about $400.

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