The renowned Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente soccer team held practice at Petco Park on Friday as part of their pre-season preparations.
The “Xolos,” as they’re called by adoring fans, have made strides over the last few years as Tijuana’s first soccer team, securing a spot in Mexico’s top flight league.
Last December, fans all over the region watched as the team won its first title as champions of Mexico’s soccer league.
In anticipation of their upcoming soccer season, the team plans to spend their last few days training in San Diego. They held an autograph-signing session for fans in San Diego on Friday afternoon.
More than 200 fans lined up to meet their favorite Xolos players, many of them sporting team jerseys.
National City resident Carlos Guerrero told NBC 7 he had been waiting for hours to meet the team, and would’ve happily waited even longer.
“Right now, it means a lot to me,” said Guerrero.
Local Ruby Ledesma says her family supports the Xolos year-round.
“It’s exciting. We go and see the game every chance we get. It’s just an awesome team,” Ledesma said.
The Xolos will play an exhibition game against Club America at Petco Park on Saturday as part of their San Diego Clásico exhibition series.
The game is expected to draw a large, lively crowd. It followsthe 1-1 draw at last year’s Clásico match, which was held at Qualcomm Stadium. Tickets to the match-up are available here.
Additional pre-season matches include a game against Correcaminos on Jul. 10 and Dorados de Sinaloa on Jul. 13, both at Estadio Caliente in Tijuana. General admission tickets to those matches are available through this website.
After that, the real competition begins.
The Xolos will play their LIGA MX home opener on Jul. 19 against Atlas de Guadalajara at Estadio Caliente. That game begins at 7:30 p.m.
This season, the team plans to continue fostering their relationship with fans across both sides of the border.
This past May, the Xolos were honored by the city of San Diego. Mayor Bob Filner and councilmember David Alvarez recognized the team at City Hall for its success both on and off the field.
"We are so proud of the Xolos," said Mayor Filner back in May. "When our teams aren't doing so well like the Padres and the Chargers, we point with pride at our team the Xolos because we're all one region."
Club Tijuana was also honored for its work with kids who want to become athletes.
The team has played a role in a crime prevention initiative that helps Tijuana’s youth stay away from drugs and violence by encouraging kids to take up sports instead.