The Tijuana Xolos wrapped up the Liga MX Clausura 2017 regular season this past Saturday, May 6.
The Aztec Canines finished on a high note, defeating Veracruz 1-0 at the Estadio Caliente. After the game, Chula Vista native, Paul Arriola, talked to EVT about the game, his take on this season, and about the playoffs.
Arriola played the entire first half of the game in his team’s victory. The former Mater Dei High School student gave his take on the game against Veracruz. Arriola said, “It was a tough game. Obviously, I saw half of it from the sideline, but when I was in there it was a tough game. Veracruz is a very good team. People underestimate them and, luckily for us, we didn’t underestimate them. We came out and we knew what we had to do. I think at the end the result was justice”.
The American winger also told EVT Sports what the victory means heading into the playoffs. Arriola said, “Last tournament we went into the playoffs with a loss, kind of with our heads down, our confidence down. This time I think it’s completely different. We’re going to face a team that pushed themselves into the playoffs (Monarcas Morelia), so they’re going to be high on confidence. But there’s no reason for us not to think that we can get past this round. We know it’s going to be hard, but at the end, it is two games and it’s 180 minutes.”
The win on Saturday night secured that the Xolos finished in first place for the second consecutive tournament. I asked Paul if it was more pressure heading into the playoffs as the first-place team. Arriola said, “I think people see it how they want to see it. To me I don’t think it’s any different. I think the best thing is to know that you always receive at home. Throughout the playoffs for us that’s nice. The first couple games are the first couple games, but after the first round no one really talks about the first place ending on the table, so to me it doesn’t really matter that much.” The team objective is clear for Club Tijuana in the playoffs to take home the title, but Paul Arriola also has some personal objectives of his own heading into La Liguilla.
“I obviously want to get on the field. The two times that I have been here to be in the playoffs I haven’t touched the field. For me personally, it will be good to do that and to continue on form. The national team camp and qualifiers are right around the corner and then the Gold Cup. I’ve had conversations with the coaches and they know how important it is for me to continue form and continue playing. For me the objective is to get on the field and continuing. The longer we go in the playoffs, means the shorter break, which means I’ll be in better form going into the national team camp.”
Finally, the 22-year-old winger gave his take on what he thought about the Liga MX Clausura 2017 regular season. Arriola said, “I think the team did really well after Dayro (Moreno) left. I think a lot of people were shaking their heads wondering how we were going to bounce back. Other players left and younger players received opportunities like myself. I think we did the best that we could. We really took advantage and I really took advantage of the opportunity I was given. For me, I was super happy. I wished I would have finished with a little more stats, obviously, some goals and assists, but it will have to do and grow off of that. I’m excited for that and I’m excited about the playoffs.”
Paul Arriola finished the tournament with two goals and three assists, but was far more valuable to Miguel Herrera than the stats might suggest. The San Diego native was one of the most versatile players on Club Tijuana, playing all over the pitch, excelling both defensively and offensively. The playoffs will start for the Aztec Canines this Thursday, May 11, and it will be an exciting time for the Xolos, for Paul Arriola, and for the San Diego/ Tijuana region. Fuerza Tijuas!
Francisco, 26, Chula Vista/Tijuana. I have been a Padres fan all my life, did most of the series previews and recaps in the Padres’ 2016 season for EVT. Now I focus more on the local soccer scene. Tijuana Xolos, San Diego Loyal, San Diego Wave.