While European club football is at the midpoint of its season, Mexican soccer is on break until January 2. That gives Liga MX clubs the chance to get in a few friendlies during the holidays, including a particularly intriguing one between America and Xolos Tijuana at the L.A. Galaxy's home digs, the StubHub Center.
While Tijuana finished a disappointing 10th on the Apertura table, America topped it and reached the Liga MX title game (though they lost the title in disappointing fashion). You could call this match a contest between one team expecting to go up on the table in the second half and another trying to adjust to a new manager and retain their place of prominence in Mexico.
However you look at it, it should be a fun contest. Let's break it down.
When: Saturday, December 28 at 8 p.m. ET (1 a.m. GMT)
Where: StubHub Center, Carson, California
Watch: Gala TV (Mexico)
Interestingly, one of the most intriguing storylines in this game doesn't really involve this game directly—it is just friendly, after all—but rather the upcoming CONCACAF Champions League match between the L.A. Galaxy and Tijuana.
Jonah Freedman of MLSSoccer.com has more:
This is advance scouting for Tijuana as they get set to face the LA Galaxy in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League in March. This one little game allows Xolos—and their horde of American players—to get nice and cozy in the home of their adversaries before returning north in a game that counts.
Those nice, wide field dimensions? Tijuana will commit them to memory. That nicely groomed grass pitch? Xolos can figure out what works on the natural surface away from the artificial turf at their own home and have a game plan down pat.
Of course, the game itself has its share of storylines, none bigger than the return of new America manager Antonio Mohamed to his former club, which fired him six months after he led Tijuana to a Liga MX title in 2012. Mohamed replaced Miguel Herrera, who was named El Tri's manager.
Fans of the United States national team will recognize quite a few faces on Tijuana, as U.S. internationals Herculez Gomez, Joe Corona and Edgar Castillo all play for the side. Potential Mexican internationals Cirilo Saucedo and Fernando Arce round out a talented side.
America is loaded as well, however, with Luis Gabriel Rey, Raul Jimenez and Moises Munoz, among others, leading the way. Remember, former manager Herrera started seven American players in the first leg of Mexico's World Cup playoff against New Zealand, a 5-1 win.
Not only that, but America might come into this game seeking a bit of retribution against any foe after losing the Liga MX title to Leon in embarrassing fashion, 5-1 on aggregate.
With a new manager to impress and a bad taste to cleanse from their palate, America might treat this friendly a bit more seriously than a simple exhibition.
Which team wins?
Both of these teams have plenty of talent, meaning this exhibition should be an entertaining affair. America are a powerhouse, however, and with a new manager to impress, they might come out buzzing a bit more than Tijuana.
Fans at the StubHub Center should be quite entertained. America wins, 3-2.