Once again, UCLA soccer has reeled in another top recruiting class. This year's group of freshmen have been ranked as the top recruiting class in the country by College Soccer News, led by four players who are all among the top 25 freshmen in the country.
The class is led by Nathan Smith, a product of the LA Galaxy academy and a member of the United States' 2011 U-17 World Cup team. He's joined by Michael Amick, Will Raygoza, Kevin De La Torre, Gregory Antognolli and Brian Illoski as former youth national teamers who are a part of this year's recruiting class. Toss in Jordan Vale, a New Zealand youth international and former Freshman All-American who transferred from Syracuse and the Bruins have a stacked crop joining them this season.
Bringing in top talent has become the norm in Westwood, dating back decades to when Paul Caliguiri, Cobi Jones, Brad Friedel, Frankie Hejduk, Eddie Lewis, Joe-Max Moore and Ante Razov led the Bruins, through the Carlos Bocanegra, Kevin Hartman and Jimmy Conrad Years and to today. But those great Bruins all played for national championship contending teams or won national titles, something the most recent UCLA teams have failed to do.
Since taking over the UCLA program in 2004, Jorge Salcedo has had no problem raking in some of the top talent in the country. This class is his fourth to be ranked as the best in the country. He's had no problem turning those players into professionals either, but he has not won at the clip of his predecessors.
In eight years, Salcedo has only played for the national title once. Last season they were upset 5-2 at home in the second round, ending what looked like a promising season for the Bruins. Now he has the top recruiting class in the country again, but that hasn't been enough to produce results in Westwood. Fingers crossed this class can break the trend.