One of the biggest rivalries Indiana, the seven-time men's national champion, has developed is its spring season clash against Mexico.
For the third straight spring, the Hoosiers host a Mexican national youth team in a friendly. This year's friendly against the Tri U-20s takes place Sunday at Armstrong Stadium.
''It's an honor to have the opportunity to play such a talented team in the U-20 Mexican national team,'' head coach Mike Freitag said. ''They have a good group of young professionals which will be a stern test for us. It is always fun to play a team that brings a different approach to the game, as the Mexican team will. Hopefully, the game will draw fans from both sides and bring a passion and energy to the crowd. It should be a fiesta.''
Players in training this week in Mexico City included American-born Sonny Guadarrama. The players are competing for spots on summer teams that will play in the U-20 World Cup in Canada and the Pan-American Games in Brazil, where Mexico is taking a U-19 team to the men's soccer competition.
The first two matches pitted IU against Mexico's U-17 national team and drew crowds of 3,472 and 5,739. In 2005, Mexico, which went on to win the 2005 U-17 World Championship, won, 2-1. Last year, Indiana prevailed, 2-0, on goals by John Mellencamp and Kevin Robson.
The Hoosiers have several players who possess considerable international experience. Ofori Sarkodie, Kevin Alston and Daniel Kelly all represented the United States at the 2005 U-17 World Cup. Sarkodie, who was a captain for that team, has participated in numerous camps at the U-20 level this season as the USA prepares for the U-20 World Cup.
Indiana finished the 2006 campaign with a 15-4-3 record, winning the Big Ten championship and reaching the third round of the NCAA Tournament before fall on penalty kicks to Santa Clara.
The Hoosiers received a blow last Saturday when speedster Darren Yeagle, who scored seven goals with two assists last year up front, suffered a serious knee injury in the game against Cincinnati.