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The 2013/14 edition of the CONCACAF Champion's League (CCL) has brought with it a unique, never before seen match-up. It has the ingredients of an international "Mexico vs USA" rivalry or "Liga MX vs MLS" rivalry. But it also contains a bit of a local derby feel to it due to the proximity of both clubs to each other; both stadiums a separated by a mere 130 miles. 

Four time MLS Cup winners LA Galaxy face the Liga MX Apertura 2013 champion Club Tijuana. Soccerly's own Jonny Rico and Bryan Medina debate who has the stronger team in this international battle of the Californians. They will go line by line to analyze who has the strongest goalkeeper, defense, midfield, and attack.

All streaks come to an end at some point in time. On Friday night, Tijuana finally saw light against Morelia’s in their brief but intense history against each other in Liga MX. The Xolos managed to get their first three points ever against Monarcas with a 1-0 score at Estadio Caliente as part of week four of the Clausura 2014 tournament.

What continues to be of extreme pride for Tijuana is also the fact that they have been able to remain unbeaten at home for 19 games, a streak that in fact, started against Monarcas in April of 2013. Yet another example that what goes around comes around. Even if it takes three years. 

Like any good bottle of red wine, the game needed airing out before it produced its best moments.

The first half went by without any team being able to break the net. But that just meant the second half would be filled with intensity.

Christian Pellerano was the most active player for Xolos during the first 45 minutes. The Argentine defensive midfielder was the only player brave enough to deviate from coach Cesar Faria’s script of attacking Morelia through set plays or one-on-one battles up the middle. Pellerano sent in a mid range shot at the 37 minute mark that was Xolos’ only attempt that needed the intervention of Carlos Rodriguez, Morelia’s goalkeeper.

Xolos look good when Pellerano gets his head straight and focuses on pushing the ball forward instead of picking fights with players. He saw a yellow card at the 40 minute mark for a challenge against ex-Tijuana player Duvier Riascos, and he was seen exchanging words with Felipe Baloy before the clock ran out at the half.

On the away side of the ball, Hector Mancilla was the commanding man that took care of Monarca’s offensive efforts. Even though the 33 year old striker was unable to break through Tijuana’s defense, he was skillful enough to frustrate Javier Gandolfi on a challenge that saw the central defender booked with a yellow.

Once the game restarted, urgency seemed to take over Xolos’ game. And it was in fact, captain Gandolfi who came to the rescue of the team’s lack of production from their offensive front.

A free kick by Fidel Martinez, placed in the perfect spot between defenders and the goalie, gave Gandolfi enough room to head the ball into the net.

The goal had its obvious effect on Monarcas. The team seemed to wake up from their stupor and after coach Carlos Bustos put Jefferson Montero in for Arevalo- playing with three strikers-, the team had its best moments of the match.

Unfortunately for the 50 or so Morelia fans on the stands, all efforts would prove short as Xolos made some substitutions of their own to effectively halt their Advances. 

Cirilo Saucedo  put the finishing touch on another successful home stand for Xolos with a spectacular save that put the crowd on their feet. 


Up next for Tijuana is a trip to Estadio Universitario to face Pumas. The same stadium where they were last able to get three away points in the Mexican league. It is a year long drought that has cost them two straight trips to the playoffs.

A lot of history is yet to be written for Tijuana during the Clausura 2014 tournament. One of the most important episodes could happen a week from Sunday, where they can finally put an end to another horrible streak.



Starting lineups:

Xolos: Cirilo Sauced, Edgar Castillo, Javier Gandolfi, Juan Carlos Nuñez, Elio Castro, Juan de Dios Hernandez, Cristian Pellerano, Fernando Arce, Fidel Martinez, Javier Güemez and Herculez Gomez.

Monarcas: Carlos Rodriguez, Hector Reynoso, Egidio Arevalo, Aldo Ramirez, Hector Mancilla, Jose Olvera, Duvier Riascos, Felipe Baloy, Rodrigo Godinez, Cristian Valdez, Rodrigo Salinas.

EPN is of course the recent controversially elected Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto. And the Mexican White House is not called the White House at all, it is called "Los Pinos" (The Pines trees), named because it is located in the Chapultec Forrest in the middle of Mexico City. EPN got elected last year and ascended to the Mexican seat of power in 2013 despite thousands of people protesting the elections. 

Xolos went to Los Pinos just like when Los Angeles Galaxy went to the White House to visit President Obama. EPN invited Xolos de Tijuana to his residence for winning Liga MX's Apertura 2012 tournament in December, maybe he will offer the "Mexican Air Force One" to Gandolfi or other players, just like Obama offered Donovan. Gandolfi gave EPN a commemorative Xolos jersey with the #2012 with Peña Nieto printed on the bottom of it. EPN talked highly about Xolos and how they are an inspiration for Mexico's youth after becoming champions shortly after their promotion to the top league.