Joe Corona Enjoying Life in San Diego and Soccer in Tijuana
U.S. U-23 MNT midfielder Joe Corona lives in San Diego and plays in Club Tijuana. The skillful playmaker has made in impact with his club's recent foray into the top flight in Mexico's Primera Division and now he's in U-23 camp in Texas preparing to face Mexico in an international friendly, Wednesday night. ussoccer.com spoke to Corona following his arrival in camp after a club game over the weekend.
ussoccer.com: You flew into camp on Sunday after playing a game with your club team on Saturday on night. How did the game go?
Joe Corona: “It went pretty well. I had a goal. We tied 1-1. It feels good to be participating and having some playing time in the First Division in Mexico. I play with Club Tijuana and it’s been going very well for me.”
ussoccer.com: Your club was recently promoted to the Mexican First Division. How has that experience been?
JC: “It’s been a whole new experience for me. I think Tijuana is a First Division city. Not only Tijuana, but I think San Diego. Cities nearby are big on soccer, especially the Mexican league. Ever since we got promoted, it’s been crazy. The whole city’s been going crazy. Everything revolves around Tijuana’s club team, so it’s a great experience to be part of something that big.”
ussoccer.com: It must be pretty fun to play in such an exciting atmosphere.
JC: “I think every player dreams of playing in a packed stadium, and in Tijuana, you can just tell that there’s a game on the weekend and tickets are sold out after five hours. All the tickets are gone. You just notice how people are so into soccer in Tijuana.”
ussoccer.com: You mentioned that people from cities near Tijuana like San Diego and L.A. come down to watch the games. You’re clearly getting a lot of people coming to your games.
JC: “You could say 30 percent or even more of the fans that go to the games are from the U.S., either San Diego, L.A. I’ve heard of people coming all the way down from San Francisco to watch their teams play. It’s something real nice, something that makes you want to have a good game to show them and make all those people happy.”
ussoccer.com: You grew up in Southern California. What’s it like to live in San Diego while playing in Mexico?
JC: “When I was 11, I moved to San Diego and I’ve been living there since. I have the best of both worlds, you could say. I play First Division in Mexico and live in San Diego. I’m the only player in Club Tijuana who has the privilege to do that. I get to be with my family in San Diego while I get to live my dream and play professionally in Mexico.”
ussoccer.com: The U-23s are getting ready to play Mexico on Wednesday. What are your thoughts on this camp so far?
JC: “Since the last three camps I’ve been coming in, it’s been something very nice for me. It’s been a great opportunity for me to take that next step. Going to the national level, I think it’s a privilege not a lot of players get to have. I just come with a lot of motivation. I really want to be successful here. I want to impress the coaches here and hopefully earn myself a spot in this team.”
ussoccer.com: You’ve been a part of the last three camps. Is it good to come back and see the guys again?
JC: “There’s a group that’s been coming into those camps and I think that’s very good for us because we get to know each other, we get to spend time with each other, which makes us an even more united group on the field and off the field, as well. I think it’s very good for us to start knowing how we all play and start knowing each other on the field, which is something very important.”
ussoccer.com: It doesn’t get much bigger than playing Mexico. Are you looking forward to being part of that huge rivalry?
JC: “I’m really looking forward to that game. It’s a huge test, not only for me personally, but for the team. I think this is our first big test and this game will show us where we’re sitting right now, how we’re looking to face the qualifying games, and I’m really excited to play in that game.”
ussoccer.com: There’s sort of a U.S. contingency at Club Tijuana with you, Greg Garza and Edgar Castillo. Are your Mexican teammates giving you stick about the game?
JC: “Of course. The teammates at Club Tijuana, they always ask me, ‘So are you going to play on Wednesday? How do you feel?’ It’s fun to make this a good conversation – not only a conversation, but something more than that. You can feel it. You can just feel the atmosphere. You know the rivalry, how Mexico and the U.S. are very different from each other and they’re always fighting to see who’s the best on and off the field. Whether it’s in the National Team or it’s in the U-23 team, we always have to go out there and try to show that and send a message of who’s the best team.”
ussoccer.com: This game will be a great chance for the U.S. to prepare for the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament.
JC: “I think this is our first big test. It will show us where we’re sitting and how we’re looking to see how we can approach qualifying games.”