With Jurgen Klinsmann an interested onlooker down in São Paolo last night, US youngsters Joe Corona and Edgar Castillo helped Club Tijuana stun Brazilian giants Palmeiras.
Xolos recorded a 2-1 win to advance to the quarterfinals of the Copa Libertadores, in the clubs first-ever season in the competition.
They also become just the third Mexican club to win in Brazil in Libertadores action, with only Club America and Chivas previously prevailing in 32 attempts from Liga MX sides.
Corona and Castillo played their part in the hugely impressive win, and Tijuana will now face Atletico Mineiro in the last eight. They have a player you may have heard of before. Ronaldinho. Remember him?
So with their wonderful performance in South America’s premier club competition so far, the Xolos are proving that teams from CONCACAF can mix it with the big boys from Brazil, Argentina and the rest of CONMEBOL.
(More: MLS Commish puts kibosh on Copa Libertadores talk)
This question has been asked over and over again. But here we go: Should Major League Soccer change its stance on not competing in the Copa Lib?
But Tijuana’s success is a tantalizing preview of what MLS teams could achieve in years to come. In this very blog just a few weeks ago, Steve Davis agreed with Garber’s comments about MLS preferring to concentrate on dominating CONCACAF Champions League play before even thinking about entering the Libertadores.
Rightly so. But in years to come, if and when MLS teams can claim a CCL crown from our Mexican foes and finally dominate the CONCACAF region, do we want MLS to join South America’s elite?
The traveling alone would be a logistical nightmare. But the league is willing to shuffle games around to help MLS teams succeed, as we saw with Seattle and LA’s CCL semifinals earlier this year.
But the gulf in class between MLS and most of South America is clear for all to see.
We should salute Club Tijuana’s rapid rise. But success for MLS clubs in CONCACAF Champions League action still seems way off, let alone glory in the Libertadores.