Powerful Tigres to play Mexican soccer friendly at Dell Diamond


Popular Monterrey-area team will meet Pachuca on July 8.

Liga MX friendly represents only chance to see pro soccer in area.

Area fans hungering for a taste of professional soccer will once again get a one-shot opportunity at Dell Diamond this summer.

Tigres UANL, one of the most successful clubs in Mexico, will play Pachuca in a Liga MX friendly July 8, at 5 p.m. Tickets, starting at $35, will go on sale Monday at the stadium box office and at tickets.com.

“Tigres has been the best team in Mexico over the last five seasons,” said SPD Sports President Juan Carlos Padilla, whose group promotes international soccer matches. “They have three titles in that period and consistently good finishes. We’re pleased to showcase them to Austin.”

Located in San Nicolas de los Garza near Monterrey, Tigres has won three consecutive Apertura championships. Liga MX is divided into two seasons, the Apertura and Clausura.

Tigres UANL sells more than 30,000 season tickets and has a strong regional fan base that includes a supporters club in Austin.

“I think it’s a really big deal getting Tigres,” said J.J. Gottsch, COO of Ryan Sanders Baseball. “There are a lot of people living in Central Texas that are either from Monterrey or have family in Monterrey, my wife included. We’ve been trying to get Tigres here for a long time. Fortunately for us, the scheduling finally worked out.”

Accomplished internationals such as forwards Eduardo Vargas of Chile, Enner Valencia of Ecuador and Andre-Pierre Gignac of France dot the Tigres roster, in addition to Mexican nationals like left wing Javier Aquino and left back Jorge Torres.

Tigres, a six-time first-division champ, beat Monterrey in the 2017 Apertura final. The club finished fifth in the Clausura that wrapped up last weekend. The club reached the finals of the Copa Libertadores in 2015 and the CONCACAF Champions League in 2016 and 2017.

Pachuca, which played Guadalajara in the first Liga MX friendly at Dell Diamond in 2015, was ninth in the recently concluded Clausura. The 2018 Apertura begins in mid-July.

Pachuca winger Kekuta Manneh, a 23-year-old former Lake Travis student who played for Lonestar Soccer and the Austin Aztex, indicated his schedule will keep him from playing.

“It’ll be nice to be back home for that, but don’t count on seeing me there,” tweeted Manneh, who spent five years in Major League Soccer, including 2017 with Columbus Crew SC.

The three Liga MX friendlies at Dell Diamond have drawn between 11,181 for Guadalajara-Pachuca in the 2015 debut to 7,757 for last year’s Toluca-Santos Laguna.

“We’ve been extremely happy with the matches,” Gottsch said. “Each time is another opportunity for us to show how versatile Dell Diamond is. Our expectation this year would be for an attendance closer to what we drew with Chivas (Guadalajara).”

Padilla pointed to the good timing of the match.

“It’s during the World Cup; soccer will be very much in the conversation,” he said. “This match also is on a day when there are no World Cup games, so nobody will miss anything.

“We should sell this out, or come close.”

Tigres has played in the area before, including a 2009 match against Cruz Azul at Myers Stadium on the University of Texas campus.

This will be the third straight year the Mexican league has offered the only professional game in town.

Next year Circuit of the Americas Chairman Bobby Epstein plans to launch USL Austin, a Division 2 United Soccer League team, and Precourt Sports Ventures is working to bring MLS’ Crew to town.

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