SAN LUIS OBISPO – Less than two weeks remain until the Cal Poly men's soccer team opens the 2010 regular season and following a minor setback during the program's initial preseason exhibition match, the Mustangs will look to solidify their winning form when hosting tuneup contests at Alex G. Spanos Stadium against the Mexico U-20 Men's National Team on Wednesday, Aug. 25 and UC Santa Cruz on Saturday, Aug. 28. Both matches begin at 7 p.m.
Junior midfielder Jake Hustedt's 10th-minute goal at San Francisco on Aug. 21 was equaled and then trumped by Dons freshman forward Karl Kraft in the 41st and 51st minutes as the Mustangs dropped a 2-1 exhibition decision. The Mustangs, who return four All-Big West selections, their top-five goalscorers and 18 letterwinners from a 2009 side that finished second in the conference standings, saw eight players make their collegiate debuts at San Francisco. Additionally, Cal Poly's seven-member freshman class – which featured three selections to the ESPN RISE All-America high school squads – was recently graded as the No. 38 incoming unit among CollegeSoccerNews.com's Top 40 Recruiting Classes of 2010.
Under fifth-year head coach Paul Holocher, the Mustangs have fared well in home exhibition matches against elite competition. During Cal Poly's first match at the remodeled Spanos Stadium on Aug. 21, 2007, forward David Zamora recorded a hat trick as the Mustangs dealt then-No. 11 California a 3-1 defeat. Cal Poly also produced a scoreless draw against Mexican side Club America's reserve team on May 29, 2009.
"It's very exciting for us to face this level of international competition. We will be playing against some of the most-talented young players in Mexico who represent some of the top clubs in the country," said Holocher, whose Mustangs are 21-4-3 in regular season matches at Spanos Stadium since 2007. "We're expecting the game to be high paced and very skillful and it will be a terrific challenge. It also represents a treat for our soccer community and we're expecting a large crowd, both of our own faithful fans and those of Mexico."
Wednesday's fixture against Cal Poly serves as the Mexico U-20 side's second contest of a four-match United States tour. Mexico faces Cal State Bakersfield on Tuesday evening before traveling to UC Santa Barbara on Friday, Aug. 27. Mexico completes the tour on Sunday at Premier Developmental League club Ventura County Fusion. Mexico's next competitive matches will be at the 2011 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, an event that serves as a qualifier for the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Columbia.
During its last competitive competition – the 2009 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Trinidad and Tobago – Mexico's U-20 side finished bottom of Group 2 and subsequently failed to qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt. The Mexico U-20 side, however, features a roster of full professionals contracted to clubs in Mexico's Primera División, the top flight of Mexican football. The Mexico U-20 side is managed by Juan Carlos Chavez, a former midfielder for famed clubs Atlas, Puebla, Morelia and Pachuca. Chavez also featured for Mexico at the 1994 World Cup.
Cal Poly's final exhibition comes against Division III UC Santa Cruz, a program Holocher directed from 1999-05. At UC Santa Cruz, Holocher compiled a 109-24-7 mark and helped the Banana Slugs reach the championship match of the 2004 NCAA Tournament.
The Mustangs, selected to finish third in the Big West preseason coaches poll, open the regular season at Denver on Friday, Sept. 3.