Tigres pulled off one of the higher profile moves in between Liga MX's Apertura and Clausura seasons, signing US soccer player Jose Torres who joins fellow US National Team player Jonathan Bornstein at the club.
Why Are We Here?
Two US soccer players at the same Liga MX club isn't a rarity in 2013, but Tigres made a big move to get Jose Torres to leave Pachuca. A regular starter with Pachuca, Torres shows game after game that he understands what it takes to succeed in this league. The 2012 Apertura was a letdown for Pachuca, finishing 13th. Tigres finished 12th, another disappointment for a club that attempted to move from strength-to-strength after winning the 2011 Apertura title. That included signing Jonathan Bornstein from Major League Soccer. Tigres's ambitions weren't matched by performance, and they need to remind Liga MX that they're among the elite.
Where Are We?
San Nicolas de los Garza, about two hours from the Texas border, part of the greater Monterrey area of the state of Nuevo Leon, and home to the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon. Why is that important? Like UNAM Pumas in Mexico City, Tigres is affiliated with their local university. In fact, they're officially known as Tigres de la UANL. Let's pause for a minute and wonder what it would be like if US pro sports teams were affiliated with colleges and universities. In fact, Tigres' nickname is tied to UANL's original gridiron team. for those interested, UANL fields a college gridiron team in Mexico's Liga Mayor, but they play at a smaller stadium called the Estadio Gasper Mass. Their nickname? Autenticos Tigres.
And The Club?
Well, there's a reason Tigres felt the need to reload for the 2011 Clausura season. Though they were already on the rise from potential relegation (something that requires several seasons worth of futility in Mexico) and they almost made the Apertura playoffs, they're still trying to get over a dismal 2010 Clausura season. How bad was it? They finished second from bottom in Group 3 and 15th out of 18 clubs. They improved to 9th in the 2010 Apertura, and are expecting even better things this season. Historically, they've won the Primera Division twice, most recently in 1982. They also won the SuperLiga in 2009.
How Tough Is The Mexican Primera Division?
With no disrespect to Major League Soccer, it's the toughest league in CONCACAF. Mexico's teams are willing to spend money, they play short seasons, and there's a lot on the line in almost every game. The Mexican Apertura (Fall) and Clausura (Spring) seasons are played in groups leading to playoffs. With 18 teams divided into three groups, the top two group finishers advance along with the top two third-place finishers. It's not uncommon for even the big teams to slip, usually leading to an off-season revamp.
Though Tigres are the second-most supported club in their home area to Monterrey, they actually draw closer to their stadium's capacity than any team in Mexico. That would be the Estadio Universitario, a 43,700-seat stadium owned by the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon that averages 98% of capacity when Tigres plays. It was built in 1967 for American football and renovated in 1986. During the '86 World Cup, it was used for games in Group F, the round of 16 match between Morocco and West Germany, and the quarterfinal between West Germany and Mexico.