If you are not in College Station, Drake Stadium is the place to be tonight for UCLA athletics as the Men's and Women's Soccer teams play a double header. First up are the UCLA Men versus Duke, followed by the UCLA Women versus Penn State. Look for a separate article later this p.m. for the Women's match. Here are the details of the Men's match:
When: September 2, 2016, 5 p.m. PT
Where: Drake Stadium
The Duke Blue Devils are 1-0-1 on the season, with a win over UNC Ashville 5-1 and a tie against the University of San Diego, 1-1. Both games were in Durham, North Carolina.
Suniel Veerakone, Duke's #10, had a brace in the Ashville game and can be a handful. UCLA will need to be wary of him. Both of Veerikone's goal came on set pieces outside the top of the box, and both were clinical strikes. Check them out:
UCLA can have a tendency to collect fouls right around this area, so they will need to be very, very careful tonight.
The UCLA match will be Duke's first road test, and they had to travel 3,000 miles miles to do it. It should be a challenge for the Blue Devils to get a result for their effort.
UCLA (1-0-1) tied Maryland last Friday at The Stub Hub Center. Frankly, UCLA was somewhat unlucky to miss out on the win, missing on several opportunities to finish late in the game. Nevertheless, a draw was a good result against the now #7 Terrapins.
Then, last Monday, as has been the case sometimes under teams coached by Jorge Salcedo, UCLA seemed disinterested against a lesser opponent, and was outplayed and outshot 14-7 by Cal State Fullerton. Unlike the Maryland game, this time the Bruins were a bit lucky in overtime, as sophomore attacking midfielder Jackson Yueill drew a penalty in the area. Brian Iloski, who missed most of last season with injury, stepped up and buried the PK, giving UCLA the sudden death 1-0 victory.
Of UCLA's two goals, Iloski has scored one and assisted on another. Here is Iloski's assist (a perfect cross) from the Maryland game:
Iloski has been a nice surprise coming off injury and Bruin fans can expect to see him in the starting XI tonight.
Coming off the CSUF win that was probably not deserved, UCLA now faces Duke. A bigger name and, like UCLA, undefeated.
The Blue Devils, however, are not ranked and are not receiving votes. Duke has not played much quality in their two games this season, tying USD, which is toward the bottom of "others receiving votes" in the NSCAA rankings, and beating UNC Ashville, 5-1. Will the Bruins play like they did against Maryland or like they did against Cal State Fullerton?
Hopefully, playing Duke will motivate UCLA. After predicting a big UCLA win over CSUF, however, I am going to dial back my expectations for tonight and predict that UCLA and Duke draw, 1-1. I hope that I am wrong and that UCLA really shows what they are capable of. They'll need a good result to boost their confidence; #1 Akron comes to town on Labor Day.
If you are at the game, or if you are watching on the PAC 12 Network, please give us your thoughts in the comment section below.
This is your UCLA v. Duke Men’s Soccer open thread.