UCLA men’s soccer welcomes high-ranked recruiting class
Sophomore forward Grayson Doody was one of four Bruins to start all 12 games for UCLA men’s soccer last season and scored a team-high three goals. (David Rimer/Assistant Photo editor)
By Francis Moon
Aug. 15, 2021 2:46 p.m.
This post was updated Aug. 15 at 9:13 p.m.
For the second consecutive year, the Bruins posted a 2-6-2 conference record – their worst in program history.
UCLA men’s soccer managed just three total wins in a shortened 2020-2021 season – also its worst in history – to finish with its lowest winning percentage since at least 1967, marking the third time since 2017 that the team failed to reach .500.
However, the Bruins are returning every goal-scorer from last season while also adding a five-player recruiting class that TopDrawSoccer ranked No. 4 in the country.
Coach Ryan Jorden said each of the incoming recruits has a chance to make an impact on the team.
“We’ve got potentially nine guys competing to start in our team – that’s how good the recruiting class is,” Jorden said. “It’s an exciting prospect to have that sort of influx of talent and the level of competition and overall quality and athleticism in your team that have that kind of impact.”
All five players in the incoming recruiting class – including one goalkeeper, two forwards and two midfielders – were nationally ranked at their positions in high school. Additionally, the team will welcome four redshirt freshmen, three of whom spent last season overseas in Europe because of travel restrictions.
The incoming flux of new Bruins will join a host of returning players including sophomore defender Tommy Silva – who earned an honorable mention to the Pac-12 All-Conference Team last season – and sophomore forward Grayson Doody, who tied for the team lead in goals scored. The then-freshmen duo became regular starters for the Bruins during the 2020-2021 season, with each finishing in the top seven on the team in minutes played.
Jorden said he envisions both sides of the ball will be able to improve and hopes to turn his team’s weaknesses into strengths this season.
“Soccer is a game that’s won by scoring goals and not conceding,” Jorden said. “Both areas we anticipate that we will have greater quality to do both those things.”
Along with senior defender Ahmed Longmire, who earned All-Pac-12 Second Team honors following last season and led the team in minutes played, Silva will have the opportunity to help improve a Bruin defense that allowed the most goals in the conference last season.
With his first season in Westwood now under his belt, Silva said he is ready to take on more of a leadership role on the defensive end.
“I am definitely looking to try to be a leader for the team and step into that role,” Silva said. “It’s important to help adapt the new guys and the international players.”
Offensively, Doody and junior midfielder Riley Ferch – who scored three goals each last season – will lead an offense that failed to get on the scoreboard in five of 10 games last year. However, UCLA managed to put up a season-high four goals against California in its final game of the season – its second win in its last three games to finish with a home record above .500.
Ranking second on the team in points and scoring two goals in the double-overtime regular season finale, Doody was one of just four Bruins to start all 12 games during the 2020-2021 season and said he is hungry for more.
“I hope I can help the team as much as possible – if that means goals, assists on top, whatever I can do to help, … I’m hungry for more individually,” Doody said. “And then as a team, I think we’re all hungry for more because that’s what it comes down to, and that’s what wins games.”
After just two nonconference matchups last season in which UCLA posted a 1-1 record, Jorden said he and his team are excited about the return to a full-length nonconference schedule as well as the return of fans in the stands.
“The opportunity to have people in attendance at games, the opportunity to play a normal schedule, all of those things are really exciting, and we feel like we’ve got a really good group of players,” Jorden said. “The combination of those two things makes for a really bright outlook to the start of the season and the possibilities that are in front of us.”
The Bruins will return to the field for two exhibition games against Westmont and Cal Poly on Monday and Saturday, respectively, before beginning their regular season by hosting Lipscomb at Wallis Annenberg Stadium on Aug. 26.