Tijuana Football Club Invigorates City By Playing For Championship In Mexico's Top League
Liga MX club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente, or Xolos for short, "suddenly finds itself in the finals of Mexico’s top league, hosting top-seeded Toluca at sold-out Estadio Caliente on Thursday night in the first leg of the two-game series," according to Mark Zeigler of U-T SAN DIEGO. The second leg is Sunday at Toluca, and "the team with the highest combined score is crowned champion." Tijuana? A champion? It is something "almost unfathomable for this city of 1.6 million people that has long been regarded as a Mexican backwater." Club Assistant GM Roberto Cornejo said, "I don’t think we’ve even realized the scope of it all because we’re concentrated so much on beating Toluca and winning the championship. But you can notice it. People are just happy." Another sign, "there is a booming industry of counterfeit Xolos jerseys." Cornejo said, "It’s an issue, But what’s the cliché? Imitation is the highest form of flattery." Football "is Mexico's NFL in terms of interest and obsession, and Liga MX is rapidly becoming one of the better (and richer) leagues on the planet." Sports-betting company Caliente Owner & Tijuana’s former Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon "purchased rights to a second-division team in Tijuana and began building" a football stadium in the far turn of the Agua Caliente thoroughbred racetrack. Estadio Caliente "has since expanded to 20,000 seats, and construction is underway to complete an upper deck with luxury suites along the west sideline" (U-T SAN DIEGO, 11/28).