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Mixed feelings about LA Galaxy-Club Tijuana friendly

Jan 31, 2013, 12:05 PM EDT

Mexico Soccer Fans

I love the idea of MLS-Liga MX friendlies – but only where they make sense.

Chivas de Guadalajara or a couple of the other clubs that have healthy fan bases in the United States? Sure, those make (dollars and) sense.

Even the middle-weights of Mexico can draw a crowd and give a good game to MLS clubs in Texas or California where the Latino populations are large enough to have reasonably sized fan bases nearby.

Or, catching the flavor the moment in these friendlies represents a solid plan, too.

So I’ve got mixed feelings about the LA Galaxy’s upcoming friendly against Liga MX champions Club Tijuana. Just announced yesterday, the nearby neighbors meet Feb. 19 at the Home Depot Center.

Formerly obscure Tijuana is an amazing story in regional sports, having just won the Liga MX Apertura title, punctuating a rags-to-riches rise that we just don’t see very often on highly financed soccer.

In this one, Bruce Arena is likely to deploy his starters for at least a half. That’s different than what we often get in mid-summer friendlies that feature MLS-Liga MX matchups. In the stack-up of league matches, Open Cup contests and game in CONCACAF Champions League, some clubs have no choice but to run out a team of reserves.

It’s a real ticket sales conundrum, because fans are asked to support a game devoid of stars – and are sometimes stuck with a portion of the bill when their season ticket series includes “International Game A” and “International Game B” and so on.

The problem then becomes this: Where does the match fall for the Mexican club? Here, the answer for the Xolos is “In the worst possible place.”

Club Tijuana actually has a Copa Libertadores match the same day! And that is a far, far more important match for such a tiny club.

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