It was a late start for you large-numbered East Coasters, but our man Noah gave fair warning. Come Thursday night, Mexico’s first title of the season would start to be decided, with one of two unlikely surprise stories set to claim a historic title.
For Toluca, winning their two-legged tie against Club Tijuana would give the team an 11th Primera Division title, tying Chivas’s record.
For Tijuana (Xolos, Club TJ – whatever you want to call them), history’s already been made, the club competing in their first Primera final. Win it, however, and a team that was in the second division a year-and-a-half ago will claim a surprise first title.
Last night, Tijuana held serve at Estadio Caliente, if controversially. After Tijuana’s Fidel Martinez and Toluca’s Edgar Benítez traded first half goals within two minutes of each other, Pablo Aguilar scored TJ’s winner from an offside position. Xolos went on to win, 2-1.
Otherwise, it was an impressive attacking performance from Tijuana, though with only a one-goal lead, Toluca has to be favored to take home the title.
But remember Sunday. Then, América – the tournament’s four-seed – got two early goals at Toluca, giving los Diablos Rojos a scare on their way to the final. Tijuana’s certainly capable of doing the same.
A TJ title could have major implications for Liga MX beyond Xolos’ first title. Moving the title nearly 1200 miles away from the league’s next-closest team would present a major shift in Mexican soccer power, especially since its destination would be a border town long thought to be a city based on as much promise as present. With Club Tijuana already generating excitement north of the border (where San Diegans can walk to the game after parking at the San Ysidro crossing), a championship could make major waves.
First things first – the second leg. The teams meet at the Nemesio Diez Sunday, 7:00 p.m. Eastern.