Monday, December 3, 2012
Xolos fans celebrate their team's first league championship in Tijuana.
TIJUANA, Mexico Tijuana is a champion.
On Sunday night, they beat Toluca's team 2-0 in the second and last game of the championship finals. The game was played in Toluca, about an hour outside Mexico City, but Tijuana was watching.
Estadio Caliente, Tijuana's soccer stadium, opened the gates to fans and broadcast the game live. Thousands of fans showed up to cheer on their team. A scoreless tie would have still meant the Xolos won the championship, but their 2-0 defeat of Toluca's Diablos Rojos was beyond anything Tijuanenses could have hoped for.
After the game ended, Estadio Caliente was packed full of deliriously happy fans. Still more fans poured into downtown Tijuana's streets, wearing the Xolos' signature red and black and cheering at the tops of their lungs. Rowdy, happy crowds filled block after block of downtown Tijuana. People hung out of car windows or rode on top of vehicles, chanting “si se pudo!” (yes, we could!) and waving Xolos flags and scarves.
At the landmark statue of Cuauhetémoc in tony Zona Rio, fans swarmed the streets and climbed the statue, standing precariously atop its head and waving flags before finally planting it and hopping back down. People opened beer cans, spraying it over the crowd, as others bounced around soccer balls and tossed rolls of toilet paper. “Ole, ole ole ole,” they sang, “Xolos, Xolos.”
Jairo Manrique is a Tijuana native. He, like so many other Tijuana residents, is profoundly aware of the reputation his city possessed until just a few months ago.
“Everybody's proud, excited,” he said. “It means a lot to us. It makes us proud to say we're from Tijuana. We're not just a bad place, but also a good place. So, I'm proud.”
He has good reason to be proud; the Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliene have made history. This is the first time Tijuana has had a team of this caliber, and it is one they are proud to call their champion.