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UCLA men’s soccer prepares to face CSUN with focus on possession, pressure

Senior defender Tommy Silva crosses the ball into the box for UCLA men’s soccer. Silva has two assists this season. (Jack Stenzel/Daily Bruin staff)

Men’s Soccer

September 4, 7:00 p.m.

Wallis Annenberg Stadium
Pac-12 Networks

By Anthony Aroyan

Sept. 4, 2023 4:04 p.m.

With the team’s road trip to Virginia being met with mixed results, the Bruins prepare to host their first regular season match of the 2023 campaign.

UCLA men’s soccer (1-1) will debut at Wallis Annenberg Stadium against Cal State Northridge (1-0-2) on Monday. With 12 new names on the team’s roster, the Bruin faithful are sure to see some new faces make their home debuts while witnessing the team’s emphasis on keeping possession of the ball and converting chances.

Coach Ryan Jorden – in his fifth season as head coach of the men’s soccer program – said there were valuable lessons learned from last week’s away fixtures, particularly the defeat against James Madison where the team conceded a goal in the 73rd minute.

“We played a couple of decent teams, and we did some things very well,” Jorden said. “We’re just going to be a little bit more clinical in certain moments, so that we don’t have to find ourselves chasing again.”

Taking advantage of scoring opportunities and converting shots into goals will no doubt be a deciding factor against CSUN. In their first match of the season against against Ohio State – a team ranked within the top 25 for much of last year – the Matadors were outshot 15-4 but managed to pull together a draw with a 90th minute equalizer from midfielder Jorge Solorzano.

One man who will look to contribute to the attack against CSUN is midfielder Sean Karani. The graduate student transfer from Temple University has the most shots attempted for the Bruins at five. Karani adds to a balanced Bruin attack, where six players have taken at least three shots in just two matches played.

Karani said that the number and spread of the chances taken is evidence of the team’s unselfish and possession-based play style.

“We just take what comes to us,” Karani said. “We’re a bunch of unselfish guys. I just take what comes, pass if I need to and, if I’m in front of the goal, just take the shot.”

For the team’s home debut, Jorden may continue to opt for a 4-4-2 formation with a holding midfielder dropping underneath the rest of the midfield trio.

Jorden said despite the formation he chooses, the team’s philosophy remains the same, focusing on areas of the field where the opponent is weak and applying pressure.

“The system will always be, ‘Where’s the space and how do we overload it?’” Jorden said. “We should be able to balance out, look at the opponent and find where the spaces are and try to get at them. That’s the exploitative part of football.”

An important key in unlocking the attack for UCLA will be found in fullbacks like senior defender Tommy Silva. The 2023 Preseason All-American currently leads the team in assists with two, a testament to his ability to move forward into the wider areas and make crosses into the box while still playing a part on the defensive side of the ball.

Silva said an important factor for success against CSUN lies in moving the ball and keeping possession in the midfield.

“We’ve been working on our play in the midfield third – our spacing, our movement, our passing,” Silva said. “We feel that’s an area that once we improve in we’re going to be really tough to beat.”

UCLA will take the field at Wallis Annenberg Stadium for the first time in the 2023 season Monday at 7 p.m.

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Anthony Aroyan
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