With the MLS fever brewing in the city of San Diego, many people from the region are just starting to get into the team from across the border, the Tijuana Xolos. In fact, many are just getting into the game of soccer in general. The sport is growing in popularity in the U.S.
This particular Xolos history piece will showcase a player, figure, or event from Tijuana Xolos history that was important for the team and their rise within the Liga MX.
For the first article, we will look at the club’s all-time top goal scorer, Raul Enriquez. You can’t win if you can’t score and the Mexican striker did a lot of that, scoring 81 goals in 180 appearances with Club Tijuana from 2007-2013.
The native of Colima, Mexico began his career in 2005 with first division side, Jaguares de Chiapas. After struggling with them, not scoring a goal in 11 appearances, Enriquez went to second division side, Petroleros de Salamanca. The 5-foot-6 man found success in the second division, scoring 26 goals in 54 appearances for the Guanajuato team.
Finally, in 2007, the birth of the Tijuana Xolos came, alongside the birth of Raul Enriquez’s career. Back in 2007 when Raul Enriquez came to Tijuana, there was no Estadio Caliente. People from Tijuana supported teams like Club America or Chivas de Guadalajara because there was no top-division soccer team in the border city. Many people were into American sports like baseball or football, rather than soccer, because of the San Diego Padres and the San Diego Chargers. In 2007 a legacy was born. The Tijuana Xolos began playing in the Unidad Deportivia Municipal Crea, which is basically like a community activity center.
It was at the ‘Crea’ where Raul Enriquez would score his first of 81 goals with the club, against Santos Laguna. Enriquez would not have a great debut season with the Tijuana Xolos, only scoring three goals. The fans probably never thought he would become an “idol”. He probably never thought he would be scoring goals for the team in the Liga MX four years after that first goal at the ‘Crea’ against Santos Laguna.
It was in the Apertura 2008 tournament where the Mexican striker really made a name for himself. Enriquez would score 14 goals to secure himself as the top goal scorer of the second division in Mexico. The Estadio Caliente was up and running at this time, but it only had a maximum capacity of 13,333 people. Tijuana natives were starting to get behind the team, but it was nothing like it is today.
Enriquez was the type of striker that would always be there to finish any opportunity that came his way. ‘El Compadre’ was crucial to Club Tijuana’s 2010 second division title, then was also instrumental to the Xolos reaching the top-flight of Mexican soccer in 2011. Tijuana’s historic goal scorer was present in the most important events in the Xolos’ history; their 2010 second division title, their 2011 Ascenso MX title, which secured their mainstay in the Liga MX, and most recently he was also a part of their one and only Liga MX title in the Apertura 2012 tournament.
Enriquez scored several important goals in the history of the Xolitzcuintles. In 2013, Enriquez marked the 100th goal in first division history against Pumas UNAM. The goal came in the Apertura 2013 tournament and was a goal that was very characteristic of the Mexican striker. Enriquez somehow showed up out of nowhere in a corner kick and out-jumped the Pumas goalkeeper to put the sphere in the back of the net for the 100th time in first division play for the Xolos. While Raul Enriquez only scored six goals in first division play for the Xolos, he will always be a figure with the team because of all he did to help the team ascend to the top flight of Mexican soccer.
Raul Enriquez, now at 31 years of age, has found his way back into the second division league of Mexican soccer with another border city team in FC Juarez. The former Xolos star is at another stage of his career, but hopefully one day we can see him wearing the black and red colors of the Xolitzcuintes once again.