*** UPDATE 12/21/2011 ***
Stanford hired Charlotte's Jermey Gunn so we dodged the bullet:
It looks like Dan Guerrero may have another coaching situation to deal with soon with our 4-time national champions men's soccer program. A little bird told me that Stanford is interviewing UCLA head coach Jorge Salcedo for their vacant head coaching position. I am very concerned that we are about to lose our coach. Stanford just built a brand new soccer specific stadium recently and has the nice facilities and massive private school endowment money to throw at Salcedo.
This would be a big loss for us. Salcedo played for UCLA, enjoyed a 6 year professional career in the FMF and MLS, and was an assistant coach on the UCLA national championship team of 2002. Since he took over the reigns of the program in 2004, he has led the Bruins to 5 Pac-10 titles, the final four in 2011, the national title game in 2006, and multiple elite eights. He also signed the number one recruiting classes in the nation in 2004, 2006, and 2010.
More importantly, he has transformed UCLA into one of the few college teams that plays possession-oriented, Barcelona short passing style (along with Akron and UNC):
"We want to build the ball from back to front, and it's something that I feel strongly about -- and I feel strongly about teaching the guys how to develop that mindset, because it's really easy to break up the game and destroy the game and call it soccer. It's really difficult to make the game."
In short, the Bruins keep the ball on the ground, look to pass to feet, move play around while probing for openings, make the other team chase a bit -- the beautiful game of Barcelona and vintage Brazil, of Holland and Spain. And with a bit of steel, too -- like the Galaxy.
It positions UCLA's program, already America's richest in producing professional talent, as a developmental academy of sorts -- as close to one as college soccer can provide -- helping create players for MLS and clubs abroad.
This philosophy has paid off in spades this season, with a Pac-12 title, a final four appearance, and the largest MLS draft class in the nation out of any university (between four senior MLS combine invitees plus Kelyn Rowe and Chandler Hoffman).
The beautiful game is growing rapidly in this country. MLS recently surpassed the NBA and NHL in average attendance. College soccer attendance is also growing rapidly. With his possession-oriented philosophy, Salcedo has positioned UCLA at the forefront of the college soccer talent pipeline. Kelyn Rowe is slated to be drafted in the top 3 of this year's draft. Eder Arreola and Shawn Singh have garnered scouts' attention with some ridiculous goals this season. Andy Rose's draft stock is rising rapidly after an elite holding midfield display in the semifinal against UNC. We also have promising future stars with guys like Ryan Hollingshead and Reed Williams.
Moreover, this is a program with some of the most history and tradition in the college game. Going down the list of UCLA soccer alumni is a who's who of USA Soccer with names like Cobi Jones, Sigi Schmidt, Brad Friedel, Benny Feilhaber, and Carlos Bocanegra. If we lost Salcedo to MLS, I could understand that. But losing him to Stanford, a Pac-12 rival, would be unacceptable. I hope that Guerrero will not let this happen on his watch.
UCLA's Top 5 Goals in 2011
Kelyn Rowe's go-ahead goal in the final four against UNC.