FORT WAYNE – Indiana has been a headliner at the Shindigz National Soccer Festival for several years.
The Hoosiers have played Notre Dame at Parkview Field in the spring and against several other top college teams during exhibitions in Fort Wayne in the fall.
But IU will have a unique experience Saturday when it faces Chivas of Guadalajara (U-23) at Hefner Fields.
We’ve had great turnouts at this event, at the Shindigz Festival, and this will be the biggest yet, IU coach Todd Yeagley said in a phone interview following a practice Monday.
Yeagley referred to Chivas as the Dallas Cowboys of Mexico.
Chivas is going to be an extremely talented and technical group. It’s going to be a team that has some experience and savvy, which will be good for our young players, he said. It will be a good learning game, a good gauge of where we are. They are going to test us like no other team would at this point. That’s one of the goals we have in the preseason, is to have a challenge that helps us figure out where we need to get better so we make better decisions on personnel going into the start of the regular season.
This exhibition has the added buzz of being televised nationally on Fox Soccer Channel.
That’s another big learning situation, Yeagley said. A young player who has not played in front of a big crowd and an atmosphere like it’s going to be in our opener at home or the road. We can see how players respond to the stage and the big lights. There’s no other exhibition game that we can replicate quite like this one with the great fans of Fort Wayne.
We’re going to need all the IU fans out in full force. There will be a lot of Chivas fans as well.
Saturday also marks a homecoming for IU seniors Tim Wylie and Nate Mitchell.
Seeing this tournament take off how it has, especially this year, we’re really excited to get up there, Wylie said. It’s one of my favorite events of the year. I can’t wait.
Mitchell, a South Side graduate, has appeared in three games (two starts) during his time as a goalkeeper with the Hoosiers. He did not see any action last season.
Wylie, a Carroll graduate, scored one goal in 14 games last season. The forward has one goal and one assist in 33 appearances.
Whatever my role will be, I’ll look forward to it, Wylie said. I’ve been playing up high and out wide. It’s not been solidified yet. We’ve got a lot of preseason to go through, but I’m really looking forward to working with the team and getting some wins here.
Wylie is also looking forward to the challenge Chivas presences.
We’ve played a lot of great teams up there, Wylie said. To take it another step farther to play a great international professional team is a pretty big thing.