LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - East Texas soccer fans got a real treat this weekend when the professional soccer team "Chivas de Guadalajara" from Mexico visited the piney woods for the first time.
Chivas will battle the newly-formed select soccer team, the "Texas Timbers" Monday night.
It's a big deal for East Texas soccer fans….
"It's like bringing in the New York Yankees for baseball or the LA Lakers for basketball," said event coordinator, Marco Morales.
The professional soccer team, "Chivas de Guadalajara" from Mexico is in Lufkin preparing to face off against the "Texas Timbers" in a pre-season game.
"Chivas is the biggest soccer franchise in North America," said Morales "There is nothing bigger than Chivas de Guadalajara. There's a huge soccer following here but we've never had anything like this before it's going to let everyone know that anything is possible."
Local soccer enthusiasts had about a month to pull together a team of young, local soccer talent to play against the Chivas on July first.
About 70 players tried out for the team, 24 made the cut, and formed the "Texas Timbers".
"They've been practicing 3x a week since we first decided this," said Morales. "I would really be surprised even if we beat these guys."
Sunday afternoon, Chivas fans crowded La Michoacana Meat Market to meet the team. The Chivas players signed shirts and soccer balls and took pictures with adoring fans.
Chivas, goal keeper and Olympic gold medalist, Antonio Rodriguez says he's ready to play.
"This is a good opportunity for us to get ready and get ready for the tournament in Mexico and we're happy to see this type of support that the people right here in USA got for Chivas," said Rodriguez.
And as far as strategy goes…
"We know what we've got to do and we hope to give tomorrow a nice game, a victory that we need one, so we hope that tomorrow can be a good one," said Rodriguez.
Chivas head coach, Javier Levesama, says his team isn't used to playing in the Texas heat.
"We are in pre-season. We are preparing our season and the weather is different than weather we have in Guadalajara so I don't need to tell them. They must adapt for the situation. They play well and I trust in them so I think we're going to have a good time and a good game too."
The game is scheduled for Monday, July 1, 2013 at Jase Magers Soccer Complex at 7:00 PM in Lufkin.
Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at La Michoacana Meat Market (1416 Atkinson Dr.) or online at https://www.ticketriver.com/event/7658-chivas-de-guadalajara-vs-texas-timbers