Q & A with Joe Corona
It’s been an incredible 18 months for U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Joe Corona. In that time, the Nomads SC product played in the Mexican second division final, helping Club Tijuana win promotion to the top tier of Mexican soccer. He scored four goals in the CONCACAF U-23 Championship, earned his first cap with the senior National Team, and this past Sunday he and his teammates competed in the championship for the 2012 Liga MX Apertura season.
Dec. 5, 2012
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Together with his National Team teammate Edgar Castillo, they helped Tijuana win the Liga MX for the first time in the history of the young club. After the celebrations in Tijuana, Corona took some time to speak with ussoccer.com about the experience of winning the championship and what is next for him and his team.
Can you describe how you feel personally and what the atmosphere is like around the team after winning the first title in the history of Club Tijuana?
Joe Corona: “It’s difficult to describe. We feel really happy. It’s a dream come true. Ever since I was little, it’s something I dreamed about. I can’t ask for more. Apart from that, the support from the fans, it’s like everything is coming together at once and I feel very fortunate to be living this moment.”
What did the team do after winning the game in Toluca?
JC: “To lift up the cup in Toluca was very exciting. After the game, we celebrated there for a little bit with family members who had traveled for the game. Afterwards we had to leave because our flight was leaving to Tijuana. On the plane there was a lot of happiness, a lot of smiles, music, dancing … it was a party. We were all extremely happy. We got to Tijuana around 1:30 a.m. and went to the stadium. It was almost like we were playing another final. The stadium was packed. All of Tijuana was there waiting for us.”
Only a year ago you played in the Ascenso final and won promotion to the first division with Club Tijuana. Does that make this championship more
JC: “On a personal level, I felt the same way about the second division championship and this championship. They were both exciting for me. They were important accomplishments in my life. I feel that the simple fact of being in the first division makes this championship a little bit more important but I feel very fortunate. I thank God for blessing me so much. I consider myself to be young and I’m living such great moments, with a new club, and it’s great to be able to make history with a club like this.”
Before the first leg of the final, your teammate Edgar Castillo was very confident that the team would win in Tijuana and then travel to Toluca and win
there. How did everyone else feel after winning at home? Was everyone equally confident?
JC: “We knew we couldn’t just go out there completely overconfident but like [Edgar] Castillo said, there was an incredible faith amongst the team. We had faith and felt almost like we were already champions. After beating Leon the way we did, we knew that we couldn’t let the chance to play in a final slip by us. You never know when you’ll get another chance to play in a final. The good thing is that we all dreamed about lifting the cup and had incredible faith. That’s what we were confident and felt that we would be champions. I think the whole group felt the same way.”
Do you think your time with the National Team helped your contributions to Club Tijuana?
JC: “Yes, of course. I think that being called up by [Jurgen] Klinsmann has helped me a lot. With the U.S. National Team, I feel that I’ve grown as a player and at the same time, it gives me more confidence on the field when I return to Tijuana. I come back to Tijuana with more confidence, and with a little bit more responsibility due to being a National Team player. That makes me happy and at the same time, I like it because it challenges me on a personal level.”
What is next for you?
JC: “Now that I’m on vacation, I need to recharge more than anything. We had a very long season. I’m going to rest and try to recharge because the upcoming year is going to be even more interesting. We’ll have the season and important tournaments like Copa Libertadores, and I also need to keep trying to earn a spot on the National Team. It’s going to be a good year and I want to make myself present so that I can be part of the World Cup in 2014.”
It’s the first time Tijuana will compete in the Copa Libertadores. How will the team prepare for the additional responsibility of playing in that
JC: “It’s something that el Turco [Antonio Mohamed] considers to be very important, and so do the team administrators. We know that now that we’ve qualified, we have to go and play well. If we can bring home the cup, we’ll do that, too. We have to prepare ourselves mentally for the trips, rest well, be completely focused and physically prepared to go and have a good year.”
U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has emphasized from the beginning the importance of players playing important games with big
clubs. Club Tijuana isn’t exactly a big club, but you just won a final. Do you think Klinsmann would be happy with the work you guys have done with
JC: “He has called me up for National Team camps and lately for qualifiers, and I think it’s for that same reason, because our performance at Xolos has been very good. It’s not that Xolos isn’t big. I say that Xolos is new, but is big. It’s a new team but we aspire to big things and I think this season left that very clear. We won the respect of all of Mexico and right now I think it’s one of the clubs that has more ambition than other clubs. I think that’s important. What we do with our club is what gives us the tools to be called in to the National Team.”