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Men's DI weekend preview: Sept. 5-7

Article Written by J.R. Eskilson
Published: September 5, 2014

The first week of the men’s college soccer season is done. Some of the preseason heavyweights were exposed through the opening round, but others have risen to the occasion. The second week of the schedule offers up another slate of exciting games from coast to coast.

No. 1 UCLA (2-0) at No. 7 New Mexico (1-0), Sept. 7, 8 p.m. (ET), GoLobos.com

Nick Miele and the New Mexico defense hosts the uber-talented Bruins on Sunday in a showdown of two top 10 programs. UCLA is fresh off a trip to North Carolina where the Bruins defeated the Tar Heels and Wake Forest(m). New Mexico made easy work of Akron in its opener. The key to this game will be the battle in the middle of the field. Will the Lobos be able to keep Leo Stolz off the ball? Can UCLA keep control of the game in yet another difficult away game? Who will replace left back Chase Gasper in the lineup – assuming the U.S. U20 Men’s National Team player made the flight to Argentina? This is a fixture that deserves top billing for the week. UCLA leads the all-time series 9-2-1. The Lobos won the last meeting 3-2 in 2011.

No. 10 Maryland (1-1) vs. No. 11 UMBC (2-0), Sept. 5, 7:30 p.m. (ET), NSCAAtv

The Maryland defense looks leaky. UMBC loves scoring goals. Local rivalry, top coaches, and a national audience. The ingredients are there for an enticing affair between two of the best East Coast programs on Friday night at Ludwig Field. Maryland bounced back from an opening loss against Louisville with a 3-2 win over Coastal Carolina on Monday. UMBC opened the season with six goals scored and only one conceded on the way to a pair of wins. The test against the Terps will be a good chance for star center back Oumar Ballo to show his quality against future MLS prospects with plenty of scouts and agents on hand for the game.

No. 18 UC Irvine (1-0) vs. Denver (2-0), Sept. 5, 6:30 p.m. (ET)

This game was originally slated as a home game for Irvine, but it was moved to San Diego so it’s now a neutral venue game. Denver is coming off impressive wins against Cal State Northridge(m) and Navy. Irvine took care of Pacific to start the season. The Pioneers look like they could be a formidable squad on the national scene this season with a strong defense and multiple options in the attack. This will be a good test for Irvine in the early stages of the season in an unfamiliar setting.

No. 4 Virginia (1-0) vs. UAB (2-0), Sept. 7, 1 p.m. (ET)

The Cavaliers managed to get past Old Dominion in its opener, but the ACC squad needed overtime. Now, Virginia heads to Oklahoma for a pair of big games against Tulsa on Friday before UAB on Sunday. Tulsa and UAB have talented attacking players that can punish mistakes or create off the dribble. Virginia will need to be sharp with the ball to keep the undefeated record alive for another weekend.

No. 15 Marquette (0-2) vs. Oregon State (2-0), Sept. 7, 12 p.m. (ET)

Marquette started the season with a very challenging schedule and zero points from its two games. However, the Golden Eagles showed the promise of a squad that has plenty of pieces to be good this season. In the Northwest, Oregon State opened its campaign with a pair of wins as Khiry Shelton returned to his dominant self and freshman Timmy Mueller made a splash in his debut. Marquette center back Axel Sjoberg will have his hands full. 

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