Westwood, CA – Made the 45 minute journey on a free Sunday afternoon to catch the Bruins-Lions. From a soccer standpoint it was a disappointing 90 minutes. However, I got to see the only player on the 3four3 watch list that I had never seen. It was well worth the trip. Kelyn Rowe is a special player!
The game turned out to be a boring 2-1 victory for UCLA that neither team can take much from. A straight red card to Logan McDaniel in the 13th minute for an elbow to Rowe’s face altered the game completely.
UCLA – 4-4-2
GK: #19 Brian Rowe
Def: #23 Ryan Lee, #27 Joe Sofia, #6 Matt Wiet, #2 Shawn Singh
Mf: #10 Kelyn Rowe, #9 Fernando Monge, #5 Andy Rose, #12 Ryan Hollingshead
Forwards: #15 Zack Foxhoven, #17 Chandler Hoffman
Loyola Marymount 4-3-3
Gk: #1 Jack McCormack
Def: #19 Jonas Reiter, #2 Mitch Boland, #11 Roger Downes, #15 Logan McDaniel
Mf: #5 Fernando Barba, #13 Ryan Felix, #9 Artur Jozkowicz
Forwards: #3 Tyler Krumpe, #20 David Ponce, #7 Phil Da Silva
As usual, UCLA began the season ranked in the top 10. Pedigree of the players and last season’s Elite 8 along with returning every starter probably had much to do with that. Well, early season form saw them drop games to previous #1 ranked Louiseville and to the lowest of the low, UC Davis. They picked up an easy W against St Mary’s on Friday night so it was time to go evaluate the Bruins for myself.
Brian Rowe looked solid in the air but could not be evaluated in the match since he was rarely tested. LMU took a few shots, only 1 which required his intervention. He does seem quite secure under the pipes and has plenty of experience under his belt from last season.
The back row was also rarely tested since LMU virtually played the entire match with 1 less player, sacrificing an attacking player when they were reduced to 10 men to shore up their defense. Ryan Lee scored the 1st goal off a big mistake by the Lion’s Gk. He then suffered an injury of his own and didn’t get back in. The center back pairing of Sofia and Matt Wiet looked organized but received very little pressure. The left back Shawn Singh attempted to project forward, giving the attack width but lacked ideas in the final third. The jury is out on this group until Friday night when they face a stiff test in the UCSB gauchos.
The midfield four includes a tremendous player in Kelyn Rowe. WOW!!! I fell in love instantly. Defensively he covers the right side of midfield when the Bruins don’t have possession. Offensively he has complete freedom to roam. He oozes class with every touch. He is in a class of his own and is the only player on the field who is different. Many of you may point the finger and say: “good one Brian, you are talking about a u20 national team player.” But there is a massive difference here between Kelyn Rowe and say Michael Stevens (ex UCLA player, U20 World Cup players with pedigree, and currently on the Galaxy). IT’S NOT EVEN CLOSE! Like comparing Messi to Donovan. Rowe is that much better. Stevens has no awareness!!! No clue what he is going to do with the ball when he gets it! Rowe will be a GA signing but deserves so much better than MLS.
Back to the other mids. Hollingshead has no clue! He has zero quality and I have no clue why he is on the field. He later filled in at right back and was just as bad there. Why Jorge? The holding mids in Andy Rose and Fernando Monge are not bad. Monge is simple and effective. Rose holds onto the ball way too long for a top holding mid. He needs 5 or 6 touches when 1 or 2 will do. Every second is an eternity at the next level and his computer is too slow.
Up top Chandler Hoffman has good mobility and a quality left foot. Finished well on the only opportunity he had. Zack Foxhoven didn’t impress on the afternoon. But again, UCLA has little to no offensive spark. They rarely got to goal and were slow motion. The fact that LMU were reduced to 10 men was definately not capitalized.
Evan Raynr came on as a sub and showed some flashes of being the good youth player he was. He’s good at taking players on in 1 v 1 situations, but has the same problem as Rose: his computer is super slow. The spanish kid Munoz was a nightmare on the wing. Looked more like a robotic American than a Spaniard. Chavez, Williams, and Arreola didn’t play too big a part in the game. Like I said, we will see on Friday night vs UCSB what these players and team are capable of.
It was disappointing to see the Lions reduced to 10 men after only 13 minutes. That action defeated the purpose of evaluating them at full strength. In modern day soccer, it is very difficult to produce in 10 v 11 situations especially when you’re up against a superior opponent (on paper). So, defensively we saw a compact LMU team that pretty much held the UCLA offense at bay for most of the afternoon. Offensively they relied on a couple of counter attacks or set pieces…corners or long throw ins.
The GK position was shared between Jack McCormack and Max Young. Ironically neither had much work despite the Bruins having that extra man. I thought at least we’d get to evaluate the Lions GK situation. That was not the case. McCormack’s early blunder off a diagonal ball across the box led to UCLA opening up the scoring just after the red card. He could do nothing on the 2nd goal since he was left 1 v 1 with Hoffman who found the corner. Young didn’t see much action, he had one good save midway through the second half to deny Arreola.
The back row suffered very little pressure. I wanted to spotlight Roger Downes to see what he brought to the table as a Hermann Trophy “watch list” nominee. He seemed like a good leader from the back. Organized his defense, was aware of his surroundings, employed good shoulder to shoulder challenges and won the battles in the air. Again, I was thinking this would be the perfect game to see him under immense pressure and that didn’t materialize. He passed his test on a relatively easy afternoon. Mitch Boland and Jonas Reiter complemented Downes well. Logan McDaniel’s stupid red, catching Rowe with an elbow to the face left his side with 10 and was irresponsible. Those types of actions lead to losses and the senior should know better. Tyler Krumpe moved back to left back to cover his loss and did well.
The midfield trio that started the game had Felix and Barba sharing the destructive role with goal scorer Jozkowicz pulling the strings in front of them. Felix was a physical force, tackled well and played simple. He did what a solid defensive mid should do. Not complicate things, just tackle and touch. Sean Sears also came on and was a bruiser. Getting tangled with Rowe on several occasions. He needs to be careful not to get caught in that stuff, as he could also have seen red for slapping Rowe in the face right in front of the referee.
The forward line suffered the most, with the lack of support playing with one less. It appears that they attempt to play a 4-3-3 with two wide players that give width in attack and back track to cover the outsides when defending. David Ponce was the target man and saw really little of the ball. Phil Da Silva and Krumpe started on the wings but they altered the formation in the 13th minute. Little to no offense out of the Lions in the game.
The Bruins came out with intent to right the ship. Their adverse results to date in a season where they are supposed to be National Championship contenders should be enough motivation. They had the foot on the gas and were circulating the ball well. A soft cross from Hollingshead coupled with a slip up from GK McCormack led to and easy tap in from Ryan Lee in the 13th minute. Then came the incident I cited a couple hundred times above … the red card.
It became and entirely different game after that. UCLA doubled their lead in the 26th minute off an easy finish inside the box from Chandler Hoffman on a slipped ball by Evan Raynr. The game was slow paced with UCLA monopolizing possession in their own half without creating any clear goal scoring opportunities.
LMU made things interesting early in the 2nd half from the PK spot. Jozkowicz calmly slotted in for the final 2-1 scoreline.
UCLA looks unorganized. They look like a youth all star team on the field with very little tactical work. Eleven individuals thrown on the field and told to figure it out and work hard. They will win some games because of the deep and talented roster they possess. But do not look to see them in the picture late in the NCAA tournament this season. I won’t get tired of hyping Kelyn Rowe! He is the real deal and needs a team with structure in order to show his complete arsenal. We will see what the Bruins are truly made of this Friday night in their clash with UCSB.
LMU could not be assessed like I would have liked. However, they do seem to be an organized group by college standards. Their conference isn’t the best, so I see them having some success. A tough road game at New Mexico next week will show what they are made of.
Stay tuned for a true battle in Westwood this Friday evening. UCSB Gauchos @ UCLA Bruins is the heavyweight battle of the weekend.
Also, catch New Mexico @ Akron on Fox Soccer Channel at 4 pm Pacific Time this Friday if you want to see quality soccer.
Just watched USD v. UCLA. Crap game. We left at 70th minute. Kick ball most of first half. Ball stayed in the air constantly. Few passes. Second half was a tad better, but still no more than 3-5 passes max. No one from defense pushed up from either side. No runs from wingers. Lots of static ball watching. I think I saw a give and go maybe twice. Very poor stuff!
I saw nothing in Kelyn Rowe. Looked very average. The only person who looked slightly impressive was #14 on USD (their forward). Showed lots of effort and some clever dribbles. Everyone else was big, strong athletes . . . but not footballers. Rubbish. It was that bad. But maybe I am expecting too much?
I maybe go to 1 or 2 college games per year, and this was as bad as most. I go to Academy games (Galaxy, Surf, Nomads, etc . . .) and they played better than USD / UCLA. In fact, I see U13, U14, U15 games with better technique and tactical play.
I went to this game to see the best college has to offer (i.e., UCLA) and was thoroughly unimpressed!
Gary Kleiban says
I’m not surprised you saw garbage. As Brian reported, USD is crap and UCLA looked unorganized.
You’re also correct that Academy games (and U13,14,15) are better and look to be tactically & technically superior. However, looks in this case are deceiving. The technical/tactical superiority witnessed, is an artifact of the game being slower at that level. The requirements on a player’s touch and mental speed, along with a team’s organization are less stringent. It is for this reason, that these youth games have better play.
I have known #14 on USD for 5 years. A great 1v1 dribbler at the youth and college level, and that’s it – one dimensional. He doesn’t “have it”. He is completely unpolished technically, and has never shown tactical sophistication. It’s a shame he was never taught, because there was potential there. But I can understand why he can leave a decent 1st impression.
I wasn’t at the game, but Rowe is legit. I would gladly take him to Argentina and Spain and stake my reputation on his quality with my contacts.
The field was the worst field I have witnessed a college level game be played on, it was near impossible to connect the ball without it popping up in the air. Also it’s a shame you left in the 70th minute because you missed Rowe’s 30+ yard wonder goal in overtime, if you don’t believe me go to the UCLA men’s soccer website and watch the on the ball with Andy Rose and about 2/3 of the way through you will see his strike, it’s unbelievable.
Lalo, where did you see the UCLA vs. USD game?
USD last night in San Diego.
Gary — I’ve read enough of your posts / thoughts to completely trust your judgment. Rowe didn’t do anything special in game I saw. Seemed to drift in and out of spaces and wasn’t demanding plays to be run through him (not sure if that’s his role?). When he did get the ball, I didnt’ see any penetrating passes or dribbles into opportunistic spaces. Either way, an aveage center mid from what I say in a one-off game.
I also agree w/you about speed of play at older ages. But everything is relevant. Let’s hope the younger generation improve their touch, skill, tactical awareness as the move on in age.
Gary Kleiban says
It’s all good man!
We can disagree here. It’s all about the discussion and learning from each other’s opinions.
Plus it’s entirely possible Rowe had a horrific game that day… in which case, if consistency is a problem, then the player is going to have problems at the highest level.
The pitch was bad. USD s/b embarrassed! However, I don’t think that was the reason ball was in air so much. Didn’t look intentional or if there was forethought. Looked like they were just banging it around, chasing balls, forgetting tactics. Didn’t see players trying to settle the ball and play with a bit more control.
I came to USA at 12-years old, and USD’s pitch would have been Godsend. If the pitch is bumpy, limit touches, and get slightly over the ball to keep it down. Play with a bit more calmness over the ball. Sometimes lighter touches works better as it keeps the ball from bouncing everywhere. This is the type of stuff US players miss out on and IMO, hurts creativity / ingenuity / touch.
I heard about Rowe’s strike, but didn’t see it. I’m sure it was a beauty. Sorry I missed it.
I had the chance to see LMU-v-New Mexico last night. In the end, the home Lobos won 2-0 largely due to two moments of individual brilliance from Devon Sandoval. The first was a finely weighted cross that was touched home by the timed run of Rollie. Sanchez then hit a goalazo, from 25 meters out 10 minutes later.
It was generally a dismal game save the last 30 minutes. LMU went out to pressure the Lobos backline, and get a lucky bounce. The game went long stretches without any established rhythm or flow. The ball was almost continuously going out of play (smells like the MLS!). To some extent the refereeing played a role in allowing the LMU approach to be successful in removing any entertainment value to the match (at least for the first 60 minutes). A lot of obvious fouls were simply let go, and obvious bookings for yellow cards went unbooked. All of this played into LMU’s hand, and against the game’s value as entertainment.
The Lobos generally tried to build up attacks from the back and play generally attractive soccer. Sometimes under pressure the Lobos resorted to long ball, which generally worked against their best interests. For much of the first half this led to a somewhat lazy attacking approach where they looked to get the ball to Sandoval directly and use his physicality to batter a path to goal. When Sandoval went out in the first half, the Lobos started to look far better as a team. The second half was generally better as LMU may have tired and the Lobos looked to build attacks in a much more deliberate manner ultimately to their benefit. Sandoval’s guile was a much better weapon than his size and strength.
Nothing LMU had really impressed, they simply looked to foul (too rarely called), and send the ball long at almost any opportunity. I could only remember a single sequence where LMU actually tried to build-up an attack. They generally lofted the ball into the box to create a bunch of half-chances. None of their players had a chance to shine given their approach.
Overall the match ended up being rather poor and a lousy advertisement for the College game. It is easy to see how a set of rules much closer to the standard FIFA one would have made for a better contest. The substitution rules allowed LMU to press more frantically, and the generous standard for fouls helped to kill most skillful play. A few more called fouls and appropriately awarded yellow cards would have served the game well.
Gary Kleiban says
Thanks for leaving us a good recap BillR!
While I didn’t watch that game, I do share your impressions of both teams.
LMU has nothing, and New Mexico tries to do things well.
This season I’ve only seen NM once (last Friday vs Akron on FSC). They do try to play out of the back, and build up something organized. Furthermore, they try to press their opponent’s back line (and that also looks somewhat prepared).
I know Devon very well, and it seems like his game has grown a touch since his youth days when his dominance was exclusively due to his physical attributes.
Who the hell says “the” MLS?
Watching the New Mexico-LMU game the other night, got me thinking about refereeing standards. The referees are from the match were all known to me, and I have worked matches with them as well as seeing them officiate some of my son’s games. They are some of the best available in my state. I felt the standard applied in the game contributed to the game’s generally poor nature by allowing LMU’s frantic pressing to succeed in breaking up play plus killing skill resulting in the ball being out of play continuously.
I would be interested in a conversation about how refereeing impacts the game. As I see it there are three major elements in the game: the players first, the coaches and the referees. The players are most important determining the skill, and action on the pitch. Coaches train the players and influence them in the long term plus putting a tactical plan into action during a match, making substitutes and providing instructions/advice during the match. The referees define how the laws of the game become the rules of engagement for the players and coaches. Succinctly put, the rules that define what you can do to win the game. The rules of the sport vary greatly from referee to referee as well as culture to culture.
I believe the standard of refereeing and culture makes the game different in England than in Spain, different in Germany, Mexico, or the USA. The rules define what is possible to compete and what it takes to succeed. A key is what defines a foul versus acceptable trifling contact, or when does a foul cross the line to misconduct, and the tolerance for diving. As a recent article in the Blizzard points out, in the MLS you have to hit someone really hard for it to be foul. It is significantly different in Spain and Germany. A secondary element is the notion of nostalgia, which plays a major role in England where recent law changes are largely ignored in English leagues because the British public seems to want it that way (along with Sky/Fox/EPL executives). Interestingly, the referees from England apply a different standard when officiating European or International matches being far less lenient regarding physical contact.
England is important as it influences the nature of public perception in the USA. Despite Spanish success, the broad expanse of the US Soccer public views EPL as the peak of soccer in the World. The EPL defines what soccer in the USA aspires to be. I think we will never fully see a World-class US player until the rules of competition in the USA nurture skill all the way from youth to professional. For the worse, the USA may be the home to the most physical league in the World (at least the statistics point to this strongly, and read the Blizzard article on the topic). Here is a tip; generally the more fouls called per match, the less physical the league and the MLS has the lowest average, the UEFA Champions League/International the highest. Cards follow the same trend, higher equates to less physical. I think the total number of goal kicks , and throw ins would be another good statistic to keep tabs on.
Our youth, high school, and college rules of engagement all flow down from the MLS, providing the foundation for the game and the definition of what it takes to win. Winning as a primary objective is not going away in our culture, so we need to adapt our refereeing allowing teams to win through a developmentally positive manner. While the players, and coaches are the most important, referees define the rules, and in a sense the objectives of the training and team choices.
A couple of notes:
1. The article from the Blizzard was reprinted on the Shin Gaurdian
2. While you’re at it check out
Gary Kleiban says
Very eloquent BillR.
In 2 years of writing, I haven’t brought up the referees. The reason is I simply do not agree with the premise that they are some determining fundamental factor in the way we play soccer here. For me, it is yet another myth that needs to get squashed.
You probably won’t like what I have to say, but at least we can start the conversation. I’ll try to post something tomorrow evening…
No worries. I have no problem with debate or disagreement, we need lots of viewpoints. I think we have the same objective, a beautiful game with skillful players performing at the peak of their potential.
My view isn’t that they are the primary factor, but rather a key secondary factor. The players and coaches are the primary factors, the referees are secondary, but reflect some cultural norms and influence what approaches yield success.
Maybe it comes down to how you might answer Andy Gray’s question: How would Barça do on a cold wet night in Stoke? I think the answer depends on what Stoke could get away with? Where is the referee from, and what is the competition? Staying with the Barça theme, I think Real Madrid’s approach depends substantially on the referees tolerance for physical play, and Mourinho has been trying to precondition the referees to be more tolerant. He wants to play on the edge of the laws without getting his players sent off. Referees are an important hedge, we need them on the side of skill, not thuggery. Mourinho’s success against Barça can be aided by Spanish referees acting more like English referees (in a sense it only increases his odds, not determine it).
In any case, I’ll look forward to it. Seems like this is a similar issue to diving, which is a hot-button for the English-speaking soccer culture.
Your thoughs on the Barca example is really good stuff! I see influence (not impact) of differing ref styles on a weekly basis here in SoCal. Luckily, referees seldom affect the outcome.
Teams/coaches who blame the ref are looking for excuses or playing mind games (e.g., Mourinho). Teams have numerous chances to score in each game and they typically outnumber the number of times a ref negates a goal from a bad or missed call. Making too many mistakes, poor passing or build-up of attack also have far more influence on W-L.
The refs do affect the game, but agree it’s secondary to the players and coach. Refs have a direct impact to how the players play and tactics/playing style of the coach. Your examples of Barca playing Stoke or Madrid illustrate that.
Barca counteracts Madrid by play acting (they don’t do that against other opponents because they don’t have to). This plays to the referee (protecting players from dangerous play) and diffuses Madrid’s tactics. If Barca tried to go tit for tat on overly aggressive play, they would fall right into Stoke / Madrid’s tactics. Barca would lose that game!
So yes, referees do “influence” the game, but teams should stick with their playing style. It’s the gamesmanship (play acting and getting into the referee’s head), that determines which tactics prevail.
So you want MLS to change and be 19 little Barcelonas. But you think even marginal future MLS players like Keyln Rowe are too good for it.
Shouldn’t you want players like Rowe in MLS to change it? You and your brother make no sense.
Brian Kleiban says
What I’m getting at is that Rowe’s quality will not be appreciated unless more and more players of his quality begin to get selected for the MLS. One Rowe with 10 guys who have an elephants first touch won’t help him shine to his capabilities nor will the team start having a possession type identity.
Xavi Hernandez would not be Xavi if he was surrounded with Chivas USA players. Get it? And unless the coaches/front office start prioritizing the selection of such players instead of specimens (Marvel Wynn) it will never happen.
Rafa Marquez hinted at it the other day. After receiving heavy criticism for his play he basically said he was surrounded by junk. It’s not politically correct but he came and out criticized his own teammates. Imagine how Beckham must feel?