By Jeff Helfrich / NPSL.com
The legendary Mexican club Chivas paid a visit stateside last weekend to visit two NPSL clubs in FC Arizona and Napa Valley 1839 FC. The clubs had the chance to test themselves against a roster that boasts seven U-20 Mexican National team players.
FC Arizona hosted the Chivas reserves on Friday, March 22 in front of a crowd of 2,850 at Mesa High School Stadium.
The match ended 2-1 in favor of Chivas, but forward Cesar Mexia had the moment of the match for FC Arizona. Mexia found the ball after a corner kick in a crowded box and one-touched a ricocheting score to the delight of the FC Arizona fans. Mexia has been with FC Arizona for three years, since the beginning.
“For him to get that goal in that big of a moment I think is very deserving,” FC Arizona owner Scott Taylor said. “It just kind of shows the kind of man that he is.”
Taylor knew that friendlies with clubs like Chivas are necessary when you’re trying to put a club on the map. He saw the success of fellow NPSL Founders Cup clubs like Miami United FC, Detroit City FC, and Chattanooga FC. He was able to expose his club to thousands of people that he hopes will return for future FC Arizona matches.
Matching up with quite possibly the best U-20 team in Mexico also provided a new outlook for the FC Arizona players and technical staff.
“I think it meant a lot to the players,” Taylor said. “They loved the atmosphere and the crowd and being able to play that caliber of team. I think it meant a lot to the coaching staff and the players.”
Sunday saw Dodd Stadium in Napa play host to the Chivas Reserves and 1,962 fans. Chivas prevailed over Napa Valley 1-0, with the home NPSL side nipping at the heels of its international opponents late in the match.
Napa Valley had chances to not only tie, but win the match in the late stages. An impressive save by the Chivas Reserves keeper snuffed out a promising chance. The NPSL side that trains just twice a week was able to hang with a club with a professional regimen. That left an impression on owner Arik Housley.
“It makes us realize we’re actually competing at this level,” Housley said. “It’s exciting for us as we move into the Founders Cup and shows that we can compete.”
Housley and his team at Napa Valley put in about eight weeks of hard work on organizing the friendly. The first conversations were had in early December. FC Global helped facilitate the relationship between Napa and Chivas and worked on a lot of the logistics.
Housley also was grateful for his fellow NPSL Golden Gate Conference clubs on being flexible with scheduling so Napa could host Chivas on a bye week. He intends to do more friendlies in the future. He and his club don’t plan on stopping now, even though a friendly with a club like Chivas was something he never dreamt of in the early days of Napa Valley 1839.
“That never even crossed our minds that it would be something we’d be doing at some point.”
FC Arizona and Napa Valley 1839 will begin NPSL Founders Cup play in August.
Photo Credit: Don Lex, Luckyduckimages.com and Scott Taylor/FC Arizona