The small club from the border has reached the final after only a year and a half in the top flight and will face perennial powerhouse Toluca for the championship. The two-leg series begins Thursday at home and concludes on Sunday in Toluca. ussoccer.com caught up with Castillo to ask about the buzz around the team, what it means for Club Tijuana to be in the final and how the MNT members are doing ahead of the important series.
Congratulations on reaching the final. How is everybody around the team and in your family taking things?
Edgar Castillo: “Everyone is going crazy in this town. My family is happy to see me in a final. I’ve been in the Mexican league for quite a while so I’m quite happy to reach my goal. My teammates are very happy. We’ll play tomorrow and try to get a win here at home and then we play again Sunday in Toluca.”
Have you ever played in a final before?
EC: “In 2008, I was in the final with Santos Laguna against Cruz Azul and we won that in Torreon. So I have one star and now I’m looking for one here in Tijuana. It would be Club Tijuana’s first. The club just came up to the first division, so it would be a great accomplishment.”
How is the atmosphere around the city with the team in the final for the first time, especially given that Tijuana hasn’t been in the First Division
for very long?
EC: “We’re obviously very happy to have made it to the final. I’ve only been here a year, and many of my teammates were part of the team that got promoted from the second division, so it’s a special feeling. The city is going crazy. Everybody - people that work at the stadium, the people at the hotel where we’re staying, everyone on the streets - it’s a big moment. It’s their first final here in Tijuana and we’re hoping to win it. It’s a small club, and to be in the First Division and in the championship is huge.”
You are there with two other Americans. How are Joe Corona and Greg Garza doing?
EC: “Joe is my roommate. He played in the final in Ascenso that got the team promoted to the First Division, so this means a lot to him. Greg is the same way. He’s not getting as much playing time, but he’s still happy. He came in during the second half of our game in Monterrey and scored the only goal, so he made a big contribution to help get us here.”
Do you think your time with the National Team during the past year has helped you become a better player for Club Tijuana?
EC: “It has helped. When I’m with the National Team, I’m around all the big players that play all over the world, and I’ve learned from them and matured. Whether it’s with the National Team or Tijuana, I have kept trying to help my team out. Joe is the same way. We never expected to get this far and now we’re here and we have to do our best to try to get that Cup.”
Club Tijuana is going up against a very strong team in Toluca. What do you know about them and how is the team preparing mentally and physically?
EC: “First of all, no one expected us to pass against Leon last Sunday because we were down 2-0 after the first game. In the second game, we came back strong and scored three. Toluca has been in a lot of finals, so they have a lot of experience and are a great team. We’re going to play them the same way we’ve played the other teams. We’re not just happy to have reached the final. We are going out to win.”