Two years ago, the Maryland men’s soccer team scored in the 96th minute to knock off top-seeded UCLA in front of nearly 8,500 fans at Ludwig Field. Games against the Bruins have consistently been some of the more competitive ones the entire season for Maryland.
The teams will meet up for the third year in a row this Friday in a matchup between two top-15 teams in the country. Maryland is 5-3-1 against UCLA all-time, but hasn’t lost to the Bruins since 2009.
Forward Sebastian Elney scored his first collegiate goal in overtime against UCLA two years ago to win the game. Last season, the Terps and Bruins played to a 1-1 draw in Los Angeles. Both were low-scoring affairs but with plenty of exciting chances.
No. 15 UCLA Bruins (1-0)
2016 record: 10-8-2, 4-5-1 Pac-12
Head coach Jorge Salcedo. Entering his 14th season as the Bruins head coach, Salcedo has the second-longest coaching tenure in UCLA soccer history. He’s led his team to an NCAA Tournament berth in all 13 seasons, winning six Pac-12 titles along the way. Salcedo has put together six No. 1 recruiting classes in the country, producing 37 MLS draft picks since 2004.
Players to Know
Redshirt senior midfielder Brian Iloski, No. 10. Iloski earned All-Pac-12 second-team honors, and led the Bruins with 17 points last season. His five goals and seven assists were both career-highs, and he assisted on UCLA’s only goal against Maryland last season. He played all 110 minutes in that matchup, recording two shots on goal.
Sophomore goalkeeper Kevin Silva, No. 1. Silva was named the top goalkeeper in the country by Top Drawer Soccer coming out of high school. He won six games in goal as a freshman last season, making 60 saves in 12 games. He’s also been a consistent starter on the United States U-19 National Team. He did, however, concede three goals in the Bruins’ season-opener against San Francisco.
Experience playing top competition. While UCLA started last season ranked No. 16 in the country and ended the season unranked, the Bruins played in a very competitive conference, facing nine top-25 opponents. They beat No. 1 Akron early in the season, scoring three goals in 32 seconds. UCLA is a perennial national contender and its games against Maryland in recent history have been very even matches.
Second-half defense. UCLA has only played in one game this season, beating San Francisco on the road. The Bruins went up 4-0, but then allowed a pair of goals in less than two minutes before conceding a late goal in the 82nd minute. While UCLA likely won’t have a four-goal lead to allow them to let up against the Terps on Friday night, conceding three goals in the second half is never a great sign. Also, all three goals they allowed were off headers. Could we have a repeat of Sebastian Elney’s 2015 overtime winner?
Three things to watch
- The Terps are up against their first ranked opponent of the season. Maryland played five matches against top-25 opponents last season, and the Terps didn’t lose any of them. They went 3-0-2 with wins over Georgetown, Michigan State and West Virginia and ties against Indiana and UCLA. The three wins all came at home. A record-breaking 8,449 fans attended this matchup two years ago in College Park, and with it being Maryland’s first Friday night home game of the season, Ludwig Field is going to be absolutely electric.
- How much will Dayne St. Clair be tested in goal? Through two games this season, St. Clair hasn’t been tested often. He only made four saves against Santa Clara while conceding a pair of goals and Hofstra only took three shots on Monday, when St. Clair was only forced to make one save. He hasn’t played on this stage since 2015, so he still has something to prove going forward, and playing against a ranked opponent like UCLA will be a great test.
- How will the Bruins defend Gordon Wild? After Monday night’s win over Hofstra, Wild talked about the difference in how he’s been defended this year compared to last. After scoring 17 goals in 2016, Wild is now in the national spotlight and teams know he’s the player to watch. Wild said he’s felt a double-team every time he’s touched the ball in the first two games, but believes this will make the team stronger by allowing more of his teammates to get involved. Wild’s one goal this season was on a free kick, so he hasn’t scored in the run of play, but the extra attention on him has opened up space for other capable scorers.