Editor’s Note: This game was originally scheduled to be played on Friday evening, but was postponed until Saturday at 9 am PT, due to inclement weather in Maryland. This remains your UCLA Men’s Soccer vs. Maryland Terrapins open thread.
The #14 UCLA Men’s Soccer team (2-1-0) makes its second road trip to the East Coast today, when the Bruins square off against the Maryland Terrapins (0-1-2) on the road in College Park, Maryland. Kickoff is at 4 pm PT.
If you looked at the records of each team, you might think this might be a walk in the park for UCLA. You would be wrong.
Although Maryland (0-1-2) has not won a game this season, they have played a much more difficult schedule that the Bruins, losing to #23 Washington in Seattle, 2-0; tying then #1 (now #25) Stanford at home, 0-0; and tying #10 Virginia, 0-0, on a neutral field in Washington, DC.
UCLA, on the other hand, looked great in the preseason (against Grand Canyon and Irvine) and in its first two regular season games (against Coastal Carolina and San Diego), keeping clean sheets in all four contests. Striker Mohammed Kamara had three goals and the back line had been playing solid defensive soccer.
That changed last Sunday night when the Bruins lost, 1-0, at home against the University of San Francisco Dons. Although UCLA dominated both possession of the ball and the stat sheet, out shooting USF 18-9, all it took was one counterattack in the 52nd minute for the Dons to put the ball in the back of the net and claim victory.
Unfortunately, loses like the one against the Dons have pockmarked Coach Jorge Salcedo’s tenure as UCLA Head Coach. The team was flat out bad last year, but even in years in which UCLA was loaded with talent and should have made deep runs into the postseason, it fell to the likes of Cal Poly (2016 and 2013), UC Riverside (2015), and New Mexico (2012). Even in 2014, when the Bruins went to the College Cup Final, its record was marred by an early season loss to American University.
Sometimes, soccer is a funny game. The better team does not always win, even though they play better. I get that. But it seems like UCLA finds a way to lose one or more games against far inferior competition, talent-wise, every single year.
Will UCLA be able to bounce back against Maryland? Two weeks ago, the Bruins looked great on the East Coast, downing now #19 Coastal Carolina, 4-0. Can they do it again far, far, far away from home?
In order to do so, the Bruins will need to solve the Terrapin back line of sophomore Ben Di Rosa, juniors Donovan Pines and Johannes Bergmann, and senior Chase Gaspar. Then, they will need to beat redshirt junior goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair, who has played every minute of every game for the Terps this season. That compliment of players shut out the defending national champion Stanford Cardinal and perennial powerhouse Virginia in the Terps’ last two games.
The good news is that Maryland has not yet potted a goal this season. Will Coach Salcedo go with senior Cole Martinez who has played in each of UCLA’s wins between the posts? Or, will he tab the talented freshman Justin Garces who took the tough loss against USF as tonight’s keeper?
This is the fourth straight year that UCLA has played Maryland. Each of the past three contests have all gone to overtime, with UCLA losing two games on golden goals in 2015 and 2017 and tying the other game in 2016. The Bruins have only beaten the Terps in College Park once back in 2009.
I predict that the teams will go into overtime yet again in this game, but this time it will be the Bruins who will strike the golden goal, care of Mohammed Kamara, leading UCLA to a 2-1 victory. I am going with my heart and not necessarily my head on this one.
This is your UCLA Men’s Soccer versus Maryland Terrapins open thread. Fire away with your thoughts in the comment section.