Feb. 29, 2012
BERKELEY - California's spring season includes a big match against one of the top youth teams in the region, as the Golden Bears take on the Mexico Under-20 Men's National Team on Saturday, March 3, at 4 p.m. at the Ernest Righetti High School Stadium in Santa Maria, Calif. The Mexico U-20 MNT won the bronze medal in the FIFA U-20 World Cup last summer and earlier in 2011 captured the CONCACAF championship to qualify for the U-20 World Cup.
"It is always a great opportunity to play one of the top national youth teams in the world in Mexico," Cal head coach Kevin Grimes said. "Their success recently in the FIFA Youth World Championships speaks for itself. It should be an entertaining game for the fans and community of Santa Maria. We are really looking forward to the match."
The Golden Bear team has its own current U-20 MNT talent in U.S. players Seth Casiple and Christian Dean. A pair of freshmen, Casiple and Dean started for Cal last fall. The 2011 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, Casiple ranked among the top players in the conference in assists much of the season. The midfielder wound up with six assists and one goal after playing all 17 games. Dean played in 16 games and was a stalwart in Cal's backline. Dean also contributed two assists in his debut season.
Junior defender Steve Birnbaum has likewise played for the U.S. U-20 MNT as well as the U.S. U-18 MNT. Casiple has also spent time with the U.S. U-18 MNT along with teammates Tony Salciccia, Chris Ortega, Connor Hallisey and Stefano Bonomo.
Elsewhere in the Cal men's soccer community, alumnus Steve Purdy and his El Salvador MNT will play a friendly vs. Estonia at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Los Angeles Coliseum.