For the second time during his Notre Dame tenure, head coach Bobby Clark will welcome in the Gatorade National Player of the Year.

Irish To Host Mexico U-20 National Team On Friday, April 27

April 19, 2007

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame men’s soccer team will host the Mexico Under-20 National Team on Friday, April 27 at Alumni Field. Game time is slated for 7:00 p.m. (ET). This Spring Futbol Fiesta is being presented by St. Joseph Regional Medical Center. Tickets are $5 for adults and $2 for youth (18 and younger).

A great match is expected as the Mexico U-20 squad features the bulk of the Mexican U-17s that beat Brazil 3-0 in the Final of the 2005 U-17 World Cup. The Mexico team is currently preparing for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, which will be held in Canada this coming July.

Mexico is led by Barcelona player Giovani dos Santos, who won the adidas Silver Ball at the U-17 World Cup in 2005. Others who are playing professionally include Arsenal striker Carlos Vela, Dos Santos’ Barcelona teammates Efrain Juarez and Jorge Hernandez and team captain Patricio Araujo, who is a member of Chivas Guadalajara.

“This is a fabulous game for us,” says Irish head coach Bobby Clark. “This is arguably the best team a Notre Dame varsity squad has ever faced. It certainly will be the best that we’ve faced in my six years here by a long stretch.”

This will mark the third straight season that Notre Dame has hosted a Mexican National Team and the first meeting with a U-20 Mexican squad. The previous two matches have come against the Mexico U-17 squad. Last season, the Fighting Irish topped Mexico 5-0 and Notre Dame took the 2005 game 1-0.

“We played this team two years ago before they went on to win the U-17 World Cup,” states Clark. “We had a great game with them two years ago. This will be that same squad, only two years older and all of them are now with pro clubs.”

Taking the field for the Fighting Irish will be several key components from last year’s team that reached the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals for the first time in program history. Forward Joseph Lapira (Lake Charles, La./Saint Louis Catholic) led all Division I men’s players with 22 goals in 2006 en route to winning the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy.

Lapira also was named the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year and the Irish return three other student-athletes that garnered all-conference accolades in 2006. Defender Matt Besler (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West) and goalkeeper Chris Cahill (Louisville, Ky./DeSales) were second and third-team selections, respectively, while defender Jack Traynor (St. Charles, Mo./Francis Howell North) copped honorable mention distinction.

There are several ways to purchase tickets for the match. You can call the Notre Dame ticket office at (574) 631-7356, visit and click on `tickets’, stop by the ticket windows at Gate 1 of Notre Dame’s Joyce Center or they can be purchased the night of the game (until capacity is reached). It is recommended that fans purchase tickets in advance to prevent long lines at the ticket window the day of the match.

The first 500 fans to the game will receive a Notre Dame vs. Mexico autograph book sponsored by St. Joseph Regional Medical Center. Both teams will be signing autographs after the match. At 6:00 p.m., the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center will also be holding their third annual Notre Dame Soccer Health Fair, which is free of charge to all fans.

“This will be a great experience for our players and fans,” comments Clark. “Anyone who is a soccer fan anywhere around this area should do everything in their power to come and see this game.”

For more information on the Notre Dame men’s soccer team, please log on to or call the official Notre Dame athletics hotline at (574) 631-3000.