Tijuana’s Xoloitzcuintles capped their impossible rise in Mexican soccer by winning the Liga MX championship—just two short short years after being propelled into its major leagues—with a 4-1 aggregate victory over Toluca, a storied club with more titles than the newcomer Xolos have years.
Up 2-1 over Toluca going into the match, the Xolos simply had to hold their lead and the championship would be theirs. The city of Tijuana held its breath. The Xolos unlikely success, during one of city’s most difficult periods, captured the imagination of Tijuana, and their respective arcs seemed to mirror one another. As Julio César Martínez Silva told the San Diego Union-Tribune’ Tijuana reporter Sandra Dibble, ‘The entire country used to say Tijuana is crime and drugs. It’s great that a ball can transform it into a place of togetherness.’
During the match, Tijuana was eerily silent. After a scoreless first half there was a palpable sense that victory was within reach, but no one wanted to jinx it. In 70th minute of the second half, Raul Arce sent a bending-blast-of-a-free-kick [3:15] over Toluca’s defense that ricocheted off the goal post. Arce’s teammate, Richard Ruiz, was in perfect position and tapped the ball beneath Toluca’s diving goal keeper.
Tijuana erupted. The noisy goal celebrations hadn’t even died down, when just a minute later, the yellow-mohawked Duvier Riascos caught a break away, and with beautiful footwork, danced right around Toluca’s goal keeper for another one. Riascos, always the showman, went right over to corner of stadium, just feet from Toluca’s fans, to rub it in.
As the San Diego Union-Tribune sports reporter Mark Zeigler described it, ‘The Tijuana forward tore off his jersey and ran toward the sideline, his arms extended, his face contorted in elation. Toluca fans, suddenly cognizant that their team wasn’t winning the Mexican soccer title for a record 11th time, angrily showered him with beer. Riascos turned his head as he sprinted by and playfully stuck out his tongue, trying to catch the sprinkles of cerveza in the chilly night air. Ah, the sweet taste of triumph.’
But Zeigler left out the next and best part. Too risque to include in a family newspaper, Xolo forward Riascos—like any dog would—got down on all fours, lifted his right leg, and performed a mock urination on the corner flag, marking his territory in Toluca for Tijuana for all of Mexico to see.