Trophies Not Friendlies?

Lost in the red, white, and blue fireworks filled, 4th of July, weekend was the announcement that Real Salt Lake would play a friendly against Club Tijuana – or better known as Xolos. Normally each year, Real Salt Lake would be playing for the US Open Cup, but after an early exit, RSL filled the void of soccer with a rare friendly against Xolos.

Friendlies are a rarity for RSL. They have become kind of notorious for not booking matches against teams with nothing at stake. They have rewarded their fans with the MLS schedule and sprinkling in some US Open Cup games and CONCACAF Champions League tournament. With neither in the future for RSL currently, the fans are now rewarded with a match up against Xolos.

So who is Club Tijuana? They are the youngest team in the Liga MX, having only been in the top division for 4 years. Over the course of that time, they have claimed a championship in 2010 and 2012. They pride themselves on defense, and prove it in the 2012 Apertura when they allowed the fewest goals with 15.

We have no early indications of line ups, but a few names pop up that we should all take interest in. For starters, watch Raúl Enríquez. With 77 goals in 180 appearances, he is the all time leading scorer for Xolos, at the age of 29. As for Americans, the team currently has six on the roster. Of the six, five have played for the United States in some aspect; though most have been in the development U-20s or U-18s. The onlyone to have played for the United States National Team is Joe Corona. Ironically, Corona’s first ever goal for the United States National Team came at Rio Tinto during the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup against Cuba.

Xolos believe that American Paul Arriola is a better striker for the team and have recently benched Corona for Arriola. If both get minutes in the game, you could be witnessing the future of the United States National Team’s offense. In reality, any American that plays for Xolos has a shot at future United States National Team roster spots, as Corona is the oldest at the age of 23.

The future of the United States National Team will be playing at the RioT. Real Salt Lake will be playing a friendly. The rarity of it all makes this an intriguing match up. If you are a soccer fan, this is a must see soccer match. If you are the casual fan or looking into the sport, this is the perfect opportunity to get tickets to a game and see the future of both club and country.