It didn’t have the magnitude of the U.S. national team’s victory at Mexico the previous night, but Notre Dame’s 1-all draw with Chivas Guadalajara’s under-23 team Thursday night was pretty darned impressive.
Chivas is obviously a real technical team, said Notre Dame senior forward Ryan Finley, who put the Irish up when he broke through the defense and scored with a low shot into the far side in the 59th minute at Hefner Fields.
Whenever you play a team from Mexico, it’s a big thing coming from the States.
That was the case Wednesday, when the United States’ 1-0 victory ended 75 years without a victory on Mexican soil.
At Hefner Fields, during the Shindigz National Soccer Festival, about 3,400 fans attended the game between Chivas’ future stars and Notre Dame.
Chivas’ under-23 team will take on Indiana on Saturday night.
Chivas’ creativity was apparent in the first half, as Hispanic fans wrapped in flags and Chivas’ red-and-white striped jerseys were buzzing. That ended, temporarily, after Finley’s goal.
The second half featured physical play – there were two players injured, one sent off for an elbow, and two yellow cards – all despite it being an exhibition game. Chivas’ Irving Avalos scored off a header in the 67th minute.
We played well in the second half, Finley said. If we don’t give up that set piece, we win 1-nil. That was really their only real chance. They kept the ball better in the first half, but we came out good in the second half. You’ve got to give credit to the back four; they played really, really well tonight.
Notre Dame is 1-0-1 in its exhibition schedule and has another preseason game, against Xavier. It opens the regular season against Duke on Aug. 25. After he scored his goal, Finley ran toward the Duke team and screamed, One more week, one more week.
Notre Dame coach Bobby Clark believes Chivas provided a good test for the team as it prepares for the regular season.
You don’t get to play a Mexican team every preseason, so it’s very special, Clark said. Especially since it’s a very good Mexican team. It was a challenge we were excited about. Technically, we may not play a better team this year in our season and we play a very strong schedule.
The Irish are accustomed to playing against Mexican teams, which may explain why Chivas had such a tough time penetrating the Notre Dame defense.
We play the Mexican under-20 team almost every spring, Clark said. This is a bonus for us.
And Clark said that the style of play found in the professional ranks, even in other countries like Mexico, isn’t all that different from high-level Division I college soccer.