Tigres brings big guns to Dell for Mexican soccer friendly

On a Sunday when the World Cup takes a break, some familiar names from soccer’s last showcase will be on display at Dell Diamond.

Tigres UANL will take on Pachuca in a Liga MX friendly, and powerful Tigres is expected to be featuring 2014 World Cup forwards Enner Valencia of Ecuador and Eduardo Vargas of Chile. Forward Andre Pierre Gignac, or simply Dede, is a French international who played for Les Bleus in the 2010 World Cup.

A crowd of nearly 10,000 is expected for the 5 p.m. game — the only pro soccer match in the Austin area this year. Tickets will be available at the gate.

“Tigres has been the best team in Mexico over the last five-year period and also one of the most popular clubs,” said promoter Juan Carlos Padilla, president of SPD Sports. “Tigres doesn’t play in Central Texas often, and we will see all their players. Plenty of stars.”

Located in suburban Monterrey, Tigres is such a drawing card that it averaged 41,313 per home match last season, basically selling out every game while winning a championship.

“We’ve wanted Tigres since we started doing these four years ago,” said J.J. Gottsch, chief operating officer of Ryan-Sanders Sports & Entertainment. “There is a large number of people in Central Texas that originate from the Monterrey area. We’ve had several fan clubs, from Dallas to San Antonio, telling us they’d come for this.”

Tigres UANL has no shortage of firepower.

Gignac is a goal-scoring machine, finding the back of the net 58 times in his three-year Tigres career, and he led the club with 10 goals in the recent Clausura, the second half of Mexico’s 2017-18 season. The Apertura will start in two weeks. Gignac, a former Marseille star, has 170 goals in his pro career and seven for the French national team.

Valencia has racked up 21 goals in 41 national caps for Ecuador, including three goals in the ’14 World Cup. Valencia started the scoring Thursday for Tigres in a 4-0 wipeout of Morelia before 11,000 fans in Frisco.

Vargas has 35 goals in 82 appearances for Chile and was the overall leading scorer in both the 2015 Copa America and the ’16 Copa America Centenario played in the United States.

Argentine defensive midfielder Guido Pizarro is listed by the British website transfermarkt.co.uk as Tigres’ most valuable player with a market value of 6.75 million pounds ($9 million). He, too, will be at Dell Diamond.

Pachuca, about a 60-mile drive northeast of Mexico City, is coming off a ninth-place finish in Clausura.

Argentina’s Sebastian Palacios is the team’s top returning scorer. Pachuca captain and midfielder Erick Gutierrez and defensive midfielder Jorge Hernandez are other formidable players.

Gottsch said Tigres has generated excitement locally.

“I don’t know if we’ll see as many tickets as we did for Chivas in year one, but this match will definitely be bigger than our last two,” he said.

There were 11,181 fans for Chivas’ 1-0 win over Pachuca in 2015. That dropped to 6,608 for Leon-Morelia in ’16 and 7,757 last year for Toluca-Santos Laguna.

“There will be many fans in attendance that have never been to Dell Diamond,” Gottsch said. “Nineteen years after we opened, it’s still great to see the reaction of fans when they enter the stadium for the first time.”

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