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Corona continuing to build on breakout year

Corona (Getty Images)


LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. – Most of the players called into the U.S. Under-23 men's national team camp that ply their trade in a league other than MLS have yet to break into their team's rotation.

That's not the case for Joe Corona.

At 21, Corona is a regular in Club Tijuana's gameday rosters. He played in 13 of the club's 17 games this past Apertura campaign, starting in eight of them. All this after playing a pivotal role in helping the club secure promotion to Mexico's Primera Division this past spring.

"A lot of good things have happened this past year," said Corona, who scored twice in the Apertura, including Tijuana's first-ever goal in Mexico's top flight. "I think that's one of the things that helped me get (to the U-23 camp) and I have to keep working the same way so I can either have more opportunities here or somewhere else."

Still eligible to play for the United States, Mexico and El Salvador, Corona originally decided to suit up for El Tri in August before changing his mind and accepting a call-up to the U.S. U-23 training camp held in Germany last month.

That call-up came as a result of Corona's breakout year at the club level, a year that has him excited at the prospects of what's to come in 2012.

Not only will next year provide Corona with an opportunity to regain a starting spot with Tijuana after being used as more of a substitute in the second half of the Apertura, but it will also give the California native a chance to help the club finish better than the 15th place it ended up in this past fall.

With a season of experience in Mexico's top flight, Corona believes both goals are attainable.

"Most of the team has more confidence with each other, on and off the field," said Corona. "There's been a better group (for) this next season and we didn't do that bad. We were almost at the middle of the table and I think this season is going to be way better."

Corona's assessmment of his club team isn't entirely accurate. Tijuana had eight points less than teams in the middle of the pack, though reinforcements have been brought in as the Xolos aim for a higher finish in the Clausura season.

Two of those reinforcements that Corona will be playing alongside are fellow Mexican-Americans who are no strangers to the United States' set-up. Full U.S. national team fullback Edgar Castillo and youth national team defender Greg Garza signed with Tijuana in recent weeks, giving it a more American flavor.

"We're going to have two guys that have been here with the U.S. Soccer Federation," said Corona. "It's real good, get to be with them. Hopefully all three of us someday will be play in the national team together."

Currently representing the U.S. U-23 team with the hopes of making the Olympic qualifying team in March, Corona has been deployed centrally as opposed to his more typical wing position since camp began last week.

As you'd normally expect from someone playing constantly, Corona has come in sharp. He's looked good in midfield while adapting to head coach Caleb Porter's high-pressure, possession-oriented style of play.

"The most important thing is to press on and off the ball, always have good transition," said Corona of what Porter is asking of him and the team. "He likes to keep the ball, moving a lot and having possession and so I think that's pretty important to us."

As one of the few abroad players seeing time with his club, Corona might be just as important to the U.S. U-23 team once March rolls around.


  1. looking forward to watching more of Joe at Tijuana in 2012. Who cares if Mexico wants him, doesn’t want him, whatever. IF he fits what the USMNT needs and he both wants to represent the Stars and Stripes AND can deliver, awesome!

    let’s find out

  2. I wouldn’t say US players are far ahead if at all actually. I wouldn’t want to field a U-20 team that lost to guatemala failing to qualify for a world cup spot, or a U-17 team that crashes out of every world cup. I’m not biased, I try to show the reality of things. USA played and got third place in a world cup in the 30’s I believe, and has had a good professional soccer league before MLS so I wouldn’t say this country is new to the sport at all. It comes down to youth development in the end. I give respect to Mexico for producing such talents like Hugo Sanchez, Jared Borgetti, Rafa Marquez, even Chicharito. Until my dear USA comes up with it’s own elite players like Hugo Sanchez or Rafa Marquez I will start to hope and believe. Heck it took spain how long to win world cup? I honestly don’t believe it would be smart to choose USA youth teams ver Mexican youth teams, because I recognize they are superior. I’m not blinded or biased because of my nationality, I simply see things as they are even if it hurts giving Mexico’s recent and promising youth.

  3. Dos Santos plays for a second div team & Taufic just started getting minutes, not really a starter. We have lots of U.S youth players in those situations too. Especially in Belguim.

    I’ll take the U.S youth players over the Mexican youth teams any day. Sure their youth system have won, but they have been playing the game for 90+ years & thats all they have to show for…Not impressed. Mexico every once in a while will goes through these “ok “phases than they fall flat on their faces and start fielding a bunch of old Cruz azul

    Mexico lindo querido, todavia no les creo naaaada. Pero los quiero mucho AFUERA del Futbol. 😉

  4. I’m afraid Ponce was born in the states but was raised in Mexico since he was a baby. He plays for Guadalajara and seems to be set to move up the ranks after performing well for Mexico’s U23 in the Copa America. It’s just not likely he would give everything up, he’s set to play for Mexico I’m afraid.

  5. Mexicans are already at full growth at U-23/U-20. Ill take Corona because we dont have a player with his style. He’s basically competing with every same size mexican player that does all the same moves (the fake pass and bring the ball back). For once we got a mexican player that can actually score from beyond the box.

    Send us miguel ponce too and we’ll be set

  6. you forgot about Taufic Guarch, he signed with Espanol, and marco Bueno who signed worth Liverpool as well as Edson Rivera who singed with Braga in Portugal. These are other Mexican prospects along with Fierro and Casillas and Erick Torres of Chivas who are being persued by Barcelona and Man-U, but your point is valid. Really it does all of CONCACAF well in general.

  7. Wouldn’t it make more sense to put the best players on the field that fit your team?

    Lots of guys play a lot for their clubs. Not all of them (see Sacha) fit into JK’s plans.

  8. Regarding, Dos Santos, I will never understand that. How is it that a player that has been pretty successful with his national team is not getting a chance with his club team? Is it because of his size?

  9. I think Gio qualifies but he’s not starting… Barrera might be 22 still but he might not get the same PT if Aguirre is fired, heard he might be last week…..

    Vela I think is still eligible for next year’s Olympics and he’s getting good starts at Real Sociedad, had a great Bicycle Kick goal a few weeks ago. Other than that I can’t think of many…. Hector Moreno is from that same U-17 05 WC winning generation but not sure he is 22 still, you have to have been born Jan 1st 1989 or later… like when I talked to CJ Sapong, he missed it by 4 days, his B-Day is 5 days short otherwise he’d be in the U-23 pool as well…

  10. And Pelosi is at Liverpool except since he’s about to turn 18 and has a connection to get a work permit is with the Liverpool academy instead of on loan like Davila at Vitesse in Holland, and Biev Villyan is also at Liverpool but on loan to a team in Germany’s Bundesliga 2, Fortuna Dusseldorf if I’m not mistaken, a team fighting for promotion in 1st place…

    That wouldn’t be much of a big indicator of Mexico’s superiority in youth development. Yes their teams won the U-17 cup and did very well in the U-20 Cup, but lets see how many actually stick both at the club level and in the international level once they hit the full squad… Vela seemed like the best prospect who signed with Arsenal after the 05 cup, Gio was doing wonders at Barca then felt he was owed a starting spot, and look at him now, despite all his Gold Cup greatness and good WC play, he can’t get minutes in EPL of FA play other than occasional cameos or starts in Cup games… and hardly ever even dresses after that.

    Marco Fabian, the dude that scored 2 on my beloved Barca in the friendly in Miami this past summer was supposed to be a big star and the Copa America was supposed to be his coming out party along with Jonathan Dos Santos, they along with others like Pumas’ Javier Cortez another up and coming star got into that whole Prostitures thing in Ecuador or somewhere in South America before the Cup, but those guys are starting in their clubs, granted Dos Santos for Barca B but is in the top 5 or 8 Segunda in Spain’s 2nd division, a team that was good enough for promotion if it weren’t Barca’s youth academy team. We’ll see how Cortez, Fabian and Dos Santos do when they come back, there’s a few friendlies they will probably see action, Cortez will be in CCL play, looking forward to him if LA or Seattle end up playing Pumas..

    But lets not crown the players yet, Mexican players for some reason have still struggled to adapt to Europe, maybe bad fits but I’m more interested in guys who are starting in top Mexican teams right now then a couple of teens who did great and got signed by big spending Euro clubs only to get loaned and not get much PT there…..

    Reminds me of Adu or even Joze recently…
    If they had been there a few years since early teens, then it’s a different story but the club will look for them to be 1st team ready soon, not so much academy ready

  11. How many U-23 players does Mexico have starting in Europe? USA has Gatt, Diskerkud, Johnson, Chandler, Williams, Altidore and sometimes Lichaj.

  12. He is fast, mainly because he knows what to do with the ball and has great dribbling skills maybe he doesn’t have amazing sprinting speed just running, but he reads the game well and has great technique which allows him to react quicker to the game and doesn’t seem to slow down much when with the ball.

    I don’t think Lost in Space means he has the potential to be of the level that Donovan is and was, but rather that type of player per say in terms of where he plays and how he plays the position.

    Landon Donovan actually was the 1st guy to really notice him and inquire about him.

    I saw Contacto Deportivo earlier this year in March, and LA had a friendly vs Tijuana, Landon somehow knew or found out this kid named Joe Benny Corona had US ties as he was born in LA apparently and he asked about him and said he’d like him brought into the system, thought he was the kind of player who’d thrive in the US team and could help him succeed. Maybe Landon wants to go back up top or centrally as either the Withdrawn forward or #10 creator since he liked Corona’s right wing play? could be who knows..

    Anyways, point is if Donovan thinks he can play I think the guys has to be legit. And he scored some key goals for Tijuna before and after promotion to the 1st division in Mexico, he can play that’s for sure, he was in Mexico’s U-22 team that was preparing for the Pan-Am games…. just felt the US was a better path?

  13. Yes agreed, their youth talent is rising like crazy and as of right now vastly superior at the U-17 and 20 levels. Many players from their youth teams have received Euro interest. Ulisses Davila(U-20) went to Chelsea and Fierro (U-17) has impressed Barcelona as well as other Guadalajara talents.

  14. He’s considered a reject in Mexico, his services are not needed in Mexico’s U-23 side considering the recent success of Mexico’s 3rd place finish in the U-20 world cup. Mexico has plenty of depth and plenty rising talents so its no surprise Corona is not needed, but its good to see his second choice (USA) has taken full advantage of this by calling him up.

  15. From all reports Corona is a fast, technical player who is good on the attack, but a little lax on the defensive side of the ball. He has good potential for the international game, but he’s still a little green. If/When he finishes his development he has the potential to be a Donovan esk type of player (a speedy, mix of winger/withdrawn striker).

  16. If they are dual nationals then I would believe that they do not count against the foreign player cap. Recall hearing Garza didn’t either but I’m not 100% about him.


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