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    Lenahan, Former Wildcats to Participate in Messi & Friends Match

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Mark Blades (2006-09) is one of the former Wildcats participating in Saturday's Messi & Friends match at Soldier Field.
    Mark Blades (2006-09) is one of the former Wildcats participating in Saturday's Messi & Friends match at Soldier Field.

    July 5, 2013

    Messi & Friends Chicago Event Info
    EVANSTON, Ill. – There will be a heavy Northwestern men’s soccer presence at the Messi & Friends vs. the Rest of the World match Saturday, July 6 at Soldier Field. NU head coach Tim Lenahan was selected as an assistant coach for one of the squads, while a number of former Wildcat players such as David Roth, Matt Eliason, Mark Blades, Gerardo Alvarez and Tommy Tombridge will play alongside some of the best professional players in the world.
    "What a great thrill for our former players to play in a game like this,” Lenahan said. “Dave Roth, Matt Eliason, Mark Blades and Gerardo Alvarez are four of the best players to play at Northwestern. And this is a just reward for all they did to help build this program."
    "For me as a coach, it is just a thrill to be around so many good players especially Lionel Messi. The real thrill however is to be able to coach Santiago Solari and some of our former players again. Santiago played for me at Richard Stockton in 1994 and this helps to connect a career's worth of coaching. To be able to be a part of this type of game with a number of former players playing in this game - well I can't explain how honored I am. I don't use the word amazing often - but this will be amazing.”
    Alvarez (2003-06), Blades (2006-09), Eliason (2007-10) and Roth (2004-07) were four of the most decorated players in NU men’s soccer history. A two-time All-Big Ten honoree and 2003 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Alvarez was a part of the program’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2004 and was with the squad in 2006 as the Wildcats advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals. Blades was a two-time NSCAA All-American, three-time All-Big Ten selection and helped lead the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament in each of his four seasons.
    Roth was the first NSCAA All-America honoree in program history, a three-time All-Big Ten honoree and still maintains the program record for assists in a season (14) and in his career (32). Eliason, a three-time All-Big Ten selection, holds the NU record for career goals (33) and career points (82).

    Tombridge, a senior on last year's squad, was a part of Northwestern's back-to-back Big Ten regular-season titles in 2011 and 2012.

    "For Tommy this will probably be the last time he plays competitive soccer since he has signed a 10-year commitment to become an officer in the US Air Force and attend pilot school which starts later this year," Lenahan said. "This is a great way to pay it forward by saying thank you to someone who will be serving his country."
    Solari played under Lenahan during his tenure at Richard Stockton and went on to play at Real Madrid, where he won a Champions League title in 2002.
    Entering his 13th season at the helm of Northwestern, Lenahan has guided the Wildcats to seven NCAA Tournament appearances and Big Ten regular-season titles in back-to-back years.

    Organized by one of the best players in professional soccer, Lionel Messi, Saturday’s event features a number of players from all over the world and they all will come together for an exhibition match at Soldier Field. Fans who are unable to attend can watch Lenahan and the generations of Wildcat players live on ESPN at 6 p.m. CT.


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