ACC play begins this weekend, leading to a pair of Top 10 matchups. Don’t miss these five men’s DI matches (all kickoff times listed EST).
Friday, Sept. 7
The highlight of the weekend takes place in Winston Salem, as the reigning ACC champs look to stave off a challenge from a very dangerous looking Wolfpack side. NC State has rolled to four straight wins to start the season and have already gone on the road and got a result, defeating Akron 2-0 earlier in the year. The downside is that Manny Perez is off with the U.S. U20s down at the U20 Men’s Invitational. Ample firepower remains, whether in the form of attacking midfielder David Loera, or junior Gabriel Machado, who has made an immediate impact since transferring. Wake certainly is formidable, though the team has yet to keep a clean sheet this year. That concern aside, the current No. 1 team in the country looks like it could be better than last year’s team; Bruno Lapa has emerged as a creative force in midfield, and the team can call on a number of players, whether Machop Chol, Kyle Holcomb, Justin McMaster or Omir Fernandez, to create danger.
Prediction: Wake Forest 2-2 NC State
For the second straight Friday night, Maryland is back on national TV against a Pac-12 opponent. This time, UCLA comes to College Park with the Terps still looking for its first goal of 2018. The defense has looked better for Maryland, with Donovan Pines imperious in central defense and Dayne St. Claire in front of goal. The Bruins on the other hand, had started off the season well before getting tripped up by a 1-0 score at home against San Francisco. Mohammed Kamara’s the one to watch for UCLA, as the junior college transfer has been as advertised at this point in the season.
Prediction: UCLA 2-1 Maryland
An under-the-radar Friday night match in Bloomington sees VCU make the trip with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Regardless of the result, the match provides a valuable high-level opponent for the Rams in a weak Atlantic 10; improving their chances of an at-large bid come tournament time. A win, and it’s all gravy. At the minimum, it’s about seeing Siad Haji and how the attacking midfielder can cope with the defensive prowess of Indiana. From the Hoosiers perspective, they’ll be missing Griffin Dorsey on duty with the U.S. youth sides in Florida, but Andrew Gutman seems to provide enough offense from left back and Trey Muse is difficult to beat in goal.
Prediction: Indiana 1-0 VCU
Sunday, Sept. 9
After losing 3-0 on the road Tuesday night, the Cardinals welcome Duke for an ACC opener that can also serve as a bounce back opportunity. Both teams are just three games into their respective seasons, getting a good idea of what works and what needs to be tweaked. Kino Ryosuke appears to be a chief scoring option, although Tate Schmitt has yet to find the back of the net. Needing to replace significant talent, freshmen have stepped up in a big way so far for Duke. Aedan Stanley, Seth Kuhn and Issa Rayyan have played significant minutes at this and contributed. New transfer Kevin Feucht and junior Daniele Proch provide the experience and finishing touch, setting up a tricky matchup for Louisville.
Prediction: Louisville 1-1 Duke
A difficult two-game road swing to the Pacific Northwest awaits Akron this weekend, as they visit Seattle and then stop in on Washington on Sunday. It’s been a mixed bag for the Zips, as they figure out how their newcomers slot into the roster. Center back Carlo Ritaccio is going to miss the trip on duty with the U.S. U19s, forcing the team to adjust defensively. Going forward, David Egbo looks more and more like one of college soccer’s best forwards, and if he can be consistent and convert his chances, it bodes well. That is easier said than done of course, as Quentin Pearson leads a solid UW back line. Scott Menzies and Joey Parrish have been among the goals through the Huskies’ first four games of the season and should give the Zips defense plenty to think about in this one.
Prediction: Washington 2-1 Akron