XOLOITZCUINTLES IN JAMAICA
Club Tijuana players named to United States U20 CONCACAF Championship squad
TIJUANA –Club Tijuana will be well represented in the upcoming CONCACAF championship in Jamaica.
Paul Arriola, John Requejo, Amando Moreno and Fernando Arce Jr. have been named to the United States Under-20 team that will compete for a spot in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
United States coach Tab Ramos released his roster and the four Xoloitzcuintles flew with the team from Florida to the Caribbean island Monday. Ramos talked about the benefit of having four players from the same club on this roster.
“It helps a lot when you have four guys that know each other well and already have played together,” Ramos said from the airport. “We have 12 players based outside of U.S. and another eight in Europe. It’s hard to get them all on the same page but with these four guys it will be easier.”
Arriola, Requejo, Moreno and Arce are no strangers to the national team. They’ve been part of previous camps heading into the qualifiers. Club Tijuana has had a presence in some of Ramos’ previous teams.
“It’s been great for us to work with Tijuana,” Ramos said. “It is a great club that facilitates anything we need and we keep exchanging information. We are very happy with the relationship we have built with the club.”
The four young Xoloitzcuintles have built a commodity with one another and one with the coach. Ramos said he had little difficulty choosing them to his roster after what he has seen the foursome do with Club Tijuana.
“(Paul) Arriola is the most experienced player of the group with more national team experience,” Ramos said. “He has been part of the program and has played at different levels. With this group, I am challenging him to take a leadership role. He needs to be that player in any situation he is in.”
Requejo goes into the tournament with little experience at the professional level. He went from playing high school soccer to Club Tijuana. But that doesn’t worry Ramos.
“John is a great player who finished his season strong,” Ramos said. “He’s consistent and is one of those outside backs that you can put at his position and he will get the job done. He rarely tries to do more than he can do. We don’t worry that he recently became a pro. He plays with good maturity. We are fortunate to have him.”
Moreno, the 19-year-old, finds himself in a fortunate situation.
Ramos said Moreno might not have made the team if he had not seen the improvements made while playing with Club Tijuana.
“Amando, he’s a great player that has come along real well since a little bit of a fall this year,” Ramos said about the striker. “He’s a player that grew when he went down to Tijuana and really has become a player that is very dangerous. He’s a player that can win a game by himself. He can be a very important player for our group.”
Arce is part of that group. The Xoloitzcuintles midfielder has less experience at the national team level but Ramos thinks Arce will have a successful career with the Americans.
“Fernando is a player that broke into the first team, played with his dad,” Ramos said of Arce whose father played for Mexico’s national team. “I talked with his dad and he said that it was up to his son where he would play. Fernando was pretty fluid that he wanted to play with the first team that called him. We know he is going to be loyal to us and we like that. He’s’ good on the ball has good vision.”
The Xoloitzcuintles envision helping the United States in its quest for the World Cup. The Americans are in Group A. It opens against Guatemala Friday. Jan. 9 at National Stadium in Kingston.
The Unites States will also play Panama, Aruba, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago in group action. The top teams in Group A and Group B will directly qualify to the World Cup and face each other in the CONCACAF championship final. The second and third place teams of each group will enter a playoff group. Winners of those respective games will clinch a World Cup berth.