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CHICAGO – Chivas de Guadalajara is the kind of club where the name alone carries weight, no matter the level of play or the type of game.
That fact isn’t lost on Chivas winger Kevin Magaña as he and the rest of the Chivas de Guadalajara Under-20 Team prepare to face the the MLS Homegrown Team in tonight's 2017 MLS Homegrown Game presented by Energizer (8 pm ET | UDN, facebook.com/univisiondeportes; MLS LIVE in Canada).
“We know it’s a friendly but Chivas, whatever game they play, they play to win,” Magaña said Monday night through a translator. “Regardless of the game we’re here to compete and here to win and that’s the way Chivas plays and we’re ready to win.”
For the defending Liga MX Under-20 champions, Tuesday’s Homegrown clash at Toyota Park is a chance to show a different audience what they’re capable of, as well as make their case to coaches.
“This is a very important game for our players,” Chivas U-20 coach Ramon Baeza said through a translator. “It’s important for them to play well because it presents an opportunity for them in Mexico in terms of advancement and then also internationally and potentially in the United States. It allows the players to compete at a level they don’t always get to compete at, it gives them an opportunity to progress in their careers and play on a stage they don’t always get to play on.”
The Chivas U-20s trained Monday night at Flames Field on the University of Illinois-Chicago campus after arriving in Chicago earlier in the day. Getting into town the day ahead of the match meant that the session was primarily focused on recovery and fitness.
“[Monday's] training session was mostly to stretch our legs and get the travel out of them,” Magaña said. “All of the training and preparation occurred this past week so we’ve been working toward this all week and today was mostly to get our legs moving and get things going before tomorrow’s game.”
The relatively low key training session highlighted a main difference between the Chivas team and the MLS Homegrowns, who were training together for the first time this morning and thus worked a lot on passing and connecting.
“Yes, I do think that could provide a certain advantage to our team, but I also realize that the MLS players were selected and they’re all very good players,” Baeza said. “And they too are looking for an opportunity to present themselves on a stage that they don’t always get to play on and get good minutes and show what they can do. So I don’t think it’s going to be an easy game, they’re very good players and more than anything it’s about mentality, regardless of camaraderie or the amount of play that the team has together.”
The Chivas roster features three players – defenders Diego Cortes and Juan Aguayo, plus Magaña – who represented Mexico at the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Two more, goalkeeper Antonio Torres and midfielder Erich Hernandez represented Mexico at the 2013 U-17 World Cup.
Magaña, who scored for Mexico at the 2017 U-20 World Cup as well as at the 2015 U-17 World Cup, sounded confident in his team heading into the meeting with the MLS Homegrown Team, which boasts five players from the United States' 2017 U-20 World Cup team.
“The team is very focused and concentrated and they’re very optimistic,” Magaña said. “They’re composed and they’re excited to go up against this opponent and ready for a victory and to compete, but they’re very focused and confident.”