The U.S. is 9-1-3 with Matt Besler in the starting lineup.

Fighting Irish To Host Mexico U-20s On Friday

April 22, 2014

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The national champion University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team will make its Alumni Stadium return Friday for a date with the Mexico Under-20 National Team. The exhibition match is slated for 7:30 p.m. (ET).

Prior to the men’s game, the Fighting Irish women’s team will face the Mexico U-20 women’s squad at 5 p.m. at Alumni Stadium. Fans only need one ticket to attend both contests. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for youth (18 and under)/seniors (55 and older). The ticket office will honor all season tickets from the fall season.

If you can’t make it to Alumni Stadium, both matches will be streamed live and for free on WatchND.

This will be the ninth time in the last 10 years that the Fighting Irish men have played host to a Mexican National Team during the spring exhibition season. Notre Dame is 5-2-1 in those contests, including a 3-2 triumph of the Mexico U-20 squad last year.

“Mexico always brings a very, very talented team up here,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. “I was speaking to their coach and he said this is their first camp before they go to Europe. They have three stops in Europe; I believe they go to Ireland, Belgium and Holland so this is an important camp for them.

“I don’t think we’ll play a more technically-talented team in the coming year than Mexico. They will test our defending, they will test our patience without the ball and if you make mistakes against them you will get penalized. We have to be able to attack and score goals; we have to be able to play the game in their half. This will be a test for our team and it comes at a great time of the spring. This game always is the highlight of the spring for us.”

While the annual showdown with Mexico always brings excitement for the Fighting Irish coaches, players and fans, this year’s match has an added twist since it will be Notre Dame’s first game on its home turf since capturing the national title in December.

“In a funny way, we have to get over that (being national champions) pretty quick because we have to be national champions next year,” Clark said. “The national championship was a tremendous feat and that was done in December. This is now the end of April and we have to move on.”

While some faces are gone from the Fighting Irish squad that topped Maryland 2-1 in the national title game, Friday will be a perfect way to put a bow on the spectacular 2013-14 campaign. The Mexico match also coincides with the program’s annual alumni weekend and awards banquet, which will take place Saturday evening.

It’s been a very successful spring for the Fighting Irish, who have posted a 6-1-1 record. The Irish opened the exhibition slate with a 2-2 tie versus the Columbus Crew and then traveled to Pontiac, Mich., where they fell to Michigan (1-0) and defeated Oakland (2-1). Notre Dame swept a double-header at Evansville (3-0, 2-0) before posting wins over Western Michigan (3-0) and Valparaiso (1-0).

Notre Dame last took to the pitch April 12 in a marquee showdown with in-state rival Indiana in Fort Wayne, Ind. The battle between the last two NCAA champions went to the Irish, 1-0.

“The only game we’ve lost out of the eight that we’ve played was 1-0 to Michigan,” Clark said. “We’ve played a lot of split teams, but we’ll put out our strongest squad against Mexico.”

Those previous eight matches of the spring have been the appetizers for Friday’s entrée against Mexico.

“It’s a fantastic rivalry,” Clark said. “American soccer has risen to the level where now the two main teams in the CONCACAF region are the U.S. and Mexico. Every time these two teams meet, it’s the battle of the giants. When the U.S. plays Mexico at any level in this country, the Hispanic community really comes out to support their team. This will be a great atmosphere and something that we’re really looking forward to.”

There is free admission to Friday’s games for Notre Dame/Saint Mary’s/Holy Cross students with a valid student ID. Notre Dame faculty and staff also will receive free admission with a current Notre Dame ID. Those offers are void when capacity is reached.

Tickets can be purchased at the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office (Gate 9 of Purcell Pavilion) during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. ET weekdays), by calling the ticket office at (574) 631-7356, or by going on-line at Tickets also will be sold at the Alumni Stadium ticket windows on match night (until capacity is reached), although it is recommended that fans purchase tickets in advance to prevent long lines at the ticket windows prior to kickoff.

Notre Dame Men’s Soccer vs. Mexico Series History
2005 – Notre Dame 1, Mexico 0 (U-17)
2006 – Notre Dame 5, Mexico 0 (U-17)
2007 – Notre Dame 1, Mexico 0 (U-20)
2008 – Notre Dame 0, Mexico 0 (U-20)
2010 – Notre Dame 2, Mexico 1 (U-20)
2011 – Mexico 2 (U-17), Notre Dame 1
2012 – Mexico 1 (U-20), Notre Dame 0
2013 – Notre Dame 3, Mexico 2 (U-20)

— Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director