The UCLA Men’s Soccer team (10-7-2) will take the field today in Louisville (12-5-2) at 5 p.m. PT. The Bruins will need to fight the Cardinals and the cold. The expected game time temperature is in the low 40s. At stake is a spot in the Sweet 16. Here are the details of the game:
Opponent: Louisville Cardinals
When: November 20, 2016, 2 p.m. PT
Where: Lynn Stadium
How to Follow: Live Stream; Live Stats
Louisville is the overall number four seed in the tournament. They had a bye in the first round, so they are well rested to face UCLA.
Louisville lost its last game, an ACC Tournament semi-final game, against #2 ranked Wake Forest, 2-1 in overtime. All of the Cardinals five losses have been by one goal, so they are never out of a match.
Louisville is led by junior forward, Mohamed Thiaw, who has scored eleven goals on the season. Thiaw has seven game winning goals, tops in the NCAA. The next highest Cardinal goal scorer has four, so the Bruins will need to always be thinking about Thiaw and defending accordingly.
Redshirt senior goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland has played every minute of every game for Louisville this season, and has ten clean sheets to show for it. He has only conceded 12 goals in 19 games, a 0.64 goals against average. Cleveland has 44 saves on the year.
The Louisville defense does not stop with Cleveland. Collectively, the U of L defense has only allowed 108 total shots (not shots on goal, shots) in 19 games. That’s less than 6 shots per game. Those are impressive defensive numbers.
The Bruins are coming off a 4-2 victory over Colgate in the friendly confines of Drake Stadium in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, to put them into the Round of 32. The game was not as close as it sounds as the Bruins clung to a one goal lead into the 89th minute, when the Bruins’ Kike Poleo notched an insurance goal.
UCLA is unbeaten in its last three games (two high scoring wins and a 0-0 tie). To extend the streak, UCLA will have its work cut out against Louisville. Oftentimes, Head Coach Jorge Salcedo manages to get his team up for games against quality opponents like the Cardinals. It’s the lesser teams that give UCLA fits. So, hopefully, UCLA puts together a good product on the field this afternoon.
Also, UCLA has come out slow on a few occasions this season and conceded within the first couple of minutes, putting them behind the eight ball of the remainder of the game. UCLA needs to weather the first ten minutes or so of the match in the cold and get their legs under them.
Abu Danladi has been hot, scoring three goals in UCLA’s last three games. Danladi, as well as Sedi Adekoya, Jackson Yueill, Biran Iloski and/or Jose Hernandez will need to step up and bury a few goals for the Bruins to record the upset.
It's tough for me to predict against UCLA at this stage of the season. Fandom vs. rational analysis are at loggerheads. My head and my heart are in conflict.
I think that the Bruins do just enough and prevail 2-1, punching their ticket to the Elite Eight and taking some heat off of Salcedo’s very warm chair.
Fire away with comments if you have any. And, kingslook may be at the game. Kingslook, if you go, shoot us some comments about the game first hand, the atmosphere, etc.