By: Ivan Orozco.
You can see them on freeways and city streets: decals sporting the Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles team logo adorning the back windows of cars throughout San Diego County. You have probably seen the emblem featuring a hairless ancient Aztec dog inside white and red circles on red and black athletic attire. The Xolos have established a presence not only in Tijuana, but have created recognition that has splashed over the fence into American communities.
A league of fans marches across the border on Friday nights to see the World-class soccer closest to Southern California. Club Tijuana has created an identity within two cultures in two different countries and are appealing at the international level.
The club knows how to cater to fans in both Mexico and the United States by having players with dual nationalities on its roster such as Gregory Garza and Michael Orozco, both United States National Team players. The team has carried other Mexican-American players in the past. Joe Corona and Edgar Castillo were part of the 2012 championship team. But the club takes pride in its grassroots efforts to draw in local talent. Alejandro Guido, Paul Arriola, John Requejo, Angel Uribe, Adrian Zendejas and Brandon Vazquez are a few players that have emerged from the Club Tijuana farm system and have earned spots on United States national teams at different age categories.
Guido and Arriola are homegrown as both are Chula Vista natives, graduates of Mater Dei High School in the South Bay. The pair has represented their country in Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups. Vazquez and Zendejas are also both from Chula Vista. Vazquez played in the Under-17 World Cup in Chile last summer while Zendejas emerged out of Hilltop High School in Chula Vista.
Having these players on the team and reaching out to communities in the region makes Club Tijuana a one-of-a-kind team. Part of being in the community involves the team being represented at many social responsibility events. It sends players to children’s hospitals, it helps raise funds for orphanages, it cleans up the beaches, and it supports many organizations and non-profits on both sides of the border.
Club Tijuana’s efforts are more than a soccer team, it is a representation of the border region and was the first team in Mexico to cater to fans in the United States with a website and social media pages in English.
Chances are you will continue to see those decals on the back of cars and you might just see the logo with the hairless dog in more places in San Diego as the team continues to expand its presence and give back on both sides of the border.