SARATOGA, Calif. – It may be one of many exhibitions on the 2016 calendar for Mexico’s Under-20 national team, but make no mistake about it: El Tri are getting fired up for the 2016 Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game against some of Major League soccer’s brightest young stars on Wednesday (9 pm ET, watch FREE on MLSsoccer.com).
“I like it a lot because it’s like a clásico between Mexico and the United States,” Mexico midfielder Ian Arellano told FutbolMLS.com after Mexico’s U-20 trained outside San Jose on Monday. “I believe the pride is there. I like to play against teams like this and I like the idea of playing of against the best of MLS.”
Arellano will be at least somewhat familiar with the rivalry between the two countries on both the club and international levels. His father, Jesus, earned 69 caps for Mexico and represented El Tri at three different World Cups, and was also part of the Monterrey squad that defeated Real Salt Lake in the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League final.
The importance of the game is also reflected in the roster selection, with Mexico coach Mario Arteaga four players born in 1995 and another six born in 1996, which would mean they are ineligible to represent Mexico in next year’s FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
“The objective [with them] is the same one MLS has: to have a competitive team with the best players,” Arteaga explained to reporters.
And even though it’s your traditional US vs. Mexico international showdown between the two national teams, Arteaga made the case that it is just as important to his charges.
“It’s always present for us, from the Under-15 level they have lived with that type of rivalry and today is no exception,” Arteaga said. “It’s not a national team [that we’re facing], but it’s a team from a league that’s very competitive.”