Sunday, July 21

Men’s soccer coach expects improvements in offense

Salcedo hopes his team will increase offense, performance at end of games

Coach Jorge Salcedo directs the Bruins in last season's final match.

Coach Jorge Salcedo directs the Bruins in last season's final match. Michael Chen

Although the popular saying is that defense wins championships, men’s soccer coach Jorge Salcedo will be hoping for a little more productivity on the offensive side of the ball when the No. 10 Bruins travel to face the San Diego Toreros tonight.

“In soccer, obviously scoring goals changes games and it’s one of those things we can always be better at,” Salcedo said. “Scoring goals is not an easy thing and I feel like we’ve had some really good moments this year, but I’d like those moments to become more sustained opportunities.”

The Bruins will certainly need to muster up as much offense as possible against San Diego, since the Toreros have been somewhat of an enigma for the Bruins, especially at Torero Stadium.

The Bruins’ last victory at Torero Stadium came in 2001, and UCLA holds an overall record of 1-3-2 against San Diego on the Toreros’ home turf.

“San Diego in the years past has been a difficult team for us,” Salcedo said. “In the early ’90s, they knocked us out of the playoffs a few times, and in the past few years, it’s been we win at home and they win at home or we tie.”

Salcedo expects a physical contest against the Toreros, who are coming off of a championship performance in the 2009 USD Nike Classic.

“It’s been a few years since we got a win down there,” Salcedo said. “I expect the game to be a very hard-fought game.”

As far as the Bruins’ offensive efforts go, UCLA had outscored their opponents by a total of 8-3 in four games, giving them a team average of two goals per game. But Salcedo is adamant that his team can improve upon its scoring efforts and its performance toward the end of games.

“I think our possession has been pretty good and our identifying moments to go forward has been good,” Salcedo said. “But it comes down to our play in the final third (of the game).”

Another pressing issue in the Bruins’ camp is the absence of their two top players, senior midfielder Michael Stephens and senior goalkeeper Brian Perk.

Friday’s contest against San Diego will mark the second game in which UCLA will be without its senior leaders, who are both currently in Egypt competing with the Under-20 U.S. National Team.

Despite the absence of Perk and Stephens, the Bruins edged Cal State Fullerton last Thursday 2-1, and Salcedo said he was pleased with the resiliency of his squad.

“After not having the best start, I thought the guys did a good job to regain control of the game in the first half,” Salcedo said. “We didn’t begin well, but the guys had some good moments in the first half, while the second half was a bit of an even battle.”

Following Friday’s match against the Toreros, the Bruins will come home to host UNLV at 5 p.m. on Sunday at Drake Stadium.

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