Tigres downs Pachuca in Liga MX friendly at Dell Diamond

The transition from baseball field to soccer pitch took more than four hours


Home run calls and no-hitters were traded in for corner kicks and red cards Sunday evening at Dell Dimond. 

Mexican soccer teams, Tigres and Pachuca, and their fans invaded the home of the Round Rock Express baseball team for a friendly with Tigres coming away with a 2-0 win thanks to two second-half goals. 

“We’re very happy,” said SPD Sports president and event promoter Juan Carlos Padilla, “Texas has been our home. We normally take our games to Houston or Dallas. We have more than 7,000 people here today in the middle of the World Cup. Tigres is a big team and we’re very happy.”

This was the fourth time two Liga MX teams faced off in Round Rock and 7,255 fans showed up. Chivas and Pachuca drew 11,181 during their friendly at Dell Diamond in 2015. 

With a crowd made up of mostly Tigres fans, the team’s high-profile players showed up and produced.

Enner Valencia — a veteran of the Ecuador national team — scored the first goal five minutes into the second half.  Young midfielder Damián Torres doubled the lead for Tigres in the 80th minute. 

French international André-Pierre Gignac started the game, while Chilean international was a second-half substitute for Tigres. Both players represented their countries at the 2014 World Cup in South Africa. 

The move to bring the Columbus Crew SC to Austin had a presence at the match, too. MLS2ATX had a table handing out scarves and hats while the MLS in Austin Supporters group had a contingent sitting along the first-base line. 

“I hope they (move the team),” Padilla said. “I really enjoy bringing teams here. Eighty percent of our games will happen in Houston and Dallas because of the population. I love Austin because it’s a mixed city with a not only Hispanic and American people. I hope the MLS team comes here because it’s going to help with other events.”

As soon as the Express finished their nine-game homestand last Tuesday, Nick Rozdilski went to work transforming the field. 

The RS3 head groundskeeper first started digging out the mound, which took about four hours. He then had to take a little more than an inch off the infield so that the sod being laid on top would be even with the outfield. 

“It’s always interesting to do,” Rozdilski said. “The good part about being here is that there is always something different and new and it’s always a challenge. We had two days to rip everything out and put sod down and paint and get ready. We have about three days to turn it back to a baseball field.”

Rain on Saturday and Sunday meant the crew had to cover and uncover the field about six times. Too much rain would make the sod a sloppy mess while having it covered would kill the fresh turf.

Rozdilski has been working on the field at Dell Diamond for about two years and said the biggest stress is the initial transition to a soccer field, but they’ve been able to find little tricks to make the process easier. 

The baseball players don’t complain too much. Except for the pitchers, who are prone to crack that the mound isn’t how it was before. 

“There are a few divots here and there in the outfield, but they’ll be filled in,” Rozdilski said. “The biggest thing they worry about is getting the mound back to size. Most of the time it's not an issue, but (pitchers) always joke that somethings wrong.”

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