[TOP 5 PREVIEW] UCLA has made it to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons, but it should advance to the 2011 Men's College Cup. The Bruins return all 11 starters -- including sophomore Kelyn Rowe, a starter for the U.S. under-20 national team -- but many face competition for playing time on what is the nation's deepest team.
"Our expectations are high," says Coach Jorge Salcedo. "We have very high team expectations and very high individual expectations. We need to be sure we become a better team than we were last year."
Former U.S. U-17 striker Victor Chavez (10 goals as a freshman) should lead the attack, but Salcedo says as many as seven players are fighting for playing time up front.
Brian Rowe started every game in goal in 2010, but Earl Edwards, one of the best keepers to come out of the U-17 national team program, could challenge for the starting job this season after red-shirting as a freshman.
Matt Wiet, who started at outside back as a sophomore after transferring from Indiana, moves into middle of the backline this season. The linchpin of the midfield will again be Englishman Andy Rose, while Eder Arreola, who played with Rowe on the U.S. under-20 national team at 2011 Concacaf qualifying, gives the Bruins an exciting option on the wing.
With such depth, the Bruins didn't need to recruit heavily in the offseason. Their big addition is Spanish transfer Victor Munoz, the 2010 MAAC Rookie of the Year at Iona.
Salcedo says the benefit of having such an experienced team is that it should gel sooner rather than later.
Bruin fans certainly hope that will be the case this season.
The NCAA's decision to move the start of the 2011 men's season up a week left programs scrambling to find opponents for the last weekend of August. Salcedo says Louisville was gracious even to invite UCLA back for a rematch of their NCAA Tournament quarterfinal match Louisville won, 5-4.
The No. 1 Cardinals and No. 2 Bruins meet Saturday at Cardinal Park.
Aug. 27 at Louisville, 4 p.m. PT
Sept. 2 at Santa Clara, 7 p.m. PT
Sept. 4 at UC Davis, 5 p.m. PT
Sept. 9 vs. Saint Mary's, 7 p.m. PT
Sept. 11 vs. Loyola Marymount, 5 p.m. PT
Sept. 16 vs. UC Santa Barbara, 7 p.m. PT
Sept. 18 at San Diego, 5 p.m. PT
Sept. 23 vs. Seattle, 5 p.m. PT
Sept. 25 vs. SMU, 1 p.m. PT
Sept. 30 vs. California *, 7 p.m. PT
Oct. 2 vs. Stanford *, 3 p.m. PT
Oct. 7 at Washington *, 7:30 p.m. PT
Oct. 9 at Oregon State *, 1 p.m. PT
Oct. 16 vs. San Diego State *, 5 p.m. PT
Oct. 22 vs. Cal State Northridge, 7 p.m. PT
Oct. 28 vs. Washington *, 7 p.m. PT
Oct. 30 vs. Oregon State *, 3 p.m. PT
Nov. 4 at California *, 3:30 p.m. PT
Nov. 6 at Stanford *, 1 p.m. PT
Nov. 12 at San Diego State *, 2 p.m. PT