UCLA men’s soccer preps to play Portland Pilots for 1st road game of season
Graduate student defender Nicolas Blassou runs toward the ball. Named to the All-Patriot League twice, Blassou transferred from American University and has already made a mark on the field for the Bruins. (August Suchecki/Daily Bruin)
Saturday, 7 p.m.
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By Nick Darrow
Sept. 10, 2022 12:06 p.m.
After four home games to start the season, the Bruins will face their first road test.
No. 15 UCLA men’s soccer (3-1) will match up against Portland (2-0-2) on Saturday night at Merlo Field in Portland, Oregon. After three early wins to start the season, the Bruins are coming off their first loss of the season, a 3-2 defeat to Grand Canyon.
Despite the unfamiliar territory, coach Ryan Jorden said he expects a similar routine out of his team and believes this moment should be nothing new to them.
“It won’t change much. We try to stay under the same preparation and rhythm when on the road,” Jorden said. “With six games under our belt, including the exhibitions, I think it should be fairly normal, as we are used to being tested.”
After its first 3-0 start in 20 years, the blue and gold capped off its homestand with an early red card and 3-2 loss to Grand Canyon. Portland, on the other hand, has yet to be defeated. After starting the season with two draws, it won its last two games against Cal Poly and Seton Hall.
Graduate transfer defender Nicolas Blassou said he believes the team’s loss will propel the Bruins and push them to be more disciplined in the future.
“It’s never nice to lose, but we as a team don’t think that one loss is going to affect our goals for the season,” Blassou said. “I think that game is definitely going to act as a wake-up call and give us some extra motivation going forward.”
Blassou, a graduate transfer from American University, is making his mark as one of the latest additions to the roster. He is one of eight new players to appear for the Bruins this season, with seven of them being freshmen and him being a graduate transfer.
The upcoming game marks both the first road test for the Bruins and the final game before conference play begins. The blue and gold will kick off conference play with two more road games – the first coming against No. 2 Stanford on Sept. 15 and the second Sept. 18 against California.
Sophomore goalkeeper Nate Crockford said he believes in his team’s ability to stay focused on the task at hand and not become distracted by any future opponents.
“I think every game is a test, and we try to get better against every opponent we play regardless of who it is,” Crockford said. “As a team, we don’t worry too much about the opponent, we just focus on working on ourselves.”
The Bruins will begin their three-game road trip against Portland on Saturday night at 7 p.m.