Professional Teams Keep Bruins In Shape

May 4, 2007

By Bobby Gordon Daily Bruin

May 7, 2007

Los Angeles, CA (CSTV U-WIRE) -- The Los Angeles Galaxy and the U.S. National Team not only represent the top tier of American soccer, but they also made up the schedule for UCLA this spring.

In preparation for the 2007 season, the men's soccer team competed in scrimmages against the reserves for several different MLS teams and U.S. National teams. The scrimmages give UCLA a chance to train against quality competition between seasons.

'It's such a great experience for us,' coach Jorge Salcedo said. 'You get to match yourself up against very good players at every single position. It gives us a chance to play against guys that are very experienced and very sound physically, athletically and technically.'

For the Bruins looking to one day join the professional ranks, it is also a chance to see how they stack up both as a team and as individuals.

'It's always fun playing against pros,' goalkeeper Brian Perk said. 'It's what you wanna do eventually.'

Going up against professional teams, the Bruins had a wildly successful spring, owning a 2-1-1 record and finishing off with a 4-1 victory over the Chivas USA reserves.

UCLA was in control for most of the match, shooting out to a 3-0 lead at one of the side fields at the Home Depot Center last Sunday. Chance Myers broke the deadlock, followed by Michael Stephens on a penalty kick, and then Mike Zaher found the back of the net on a pass from Stephens.

Chivas USA struck back to pull within two, but sophomore Jason Leopoldo responded with an unassisted goal to ice the scrimmage.

In goal for UCLA, Brian Perk, heir to former Bruin Eric Reed, announced his presence with some big saves throughout the contest.

'We put in the work and it paid dividends right there with the 4-1 victory,' Perk said. 'We just completely outclassed them. They have some great players individually, but team-wise they can't hang with us.'

The Bruins' only loss, 3-0 against Los Angeles, came against a Galaxy squad that included starters Landon Donovan and Cobi Jones. UCLA would later tie the Galaxy reserves 1-1 and beat the Chicago Fire 2-1.

The Bruins stayed with the Full National Team, losing by only a 3-2 margin.

The scrimmages go a long way in boosting the team's confidence going into next year's season.

'I think if we can play a pro team we can definitely play a college team,' Perk said.

One of the more encouraging signs of the spring is the return of defender Brandon Owens. Owens missed last season with an ACL injury and has been on the road to recovery.

'I started up in January and progressed through the spring,' Owens said. 'It's getting better every day and I'm enjoying playing again.'

Salcedo is happy with the progression his defender has made.

'Brandon was strong (against Chivas USA),' Salcedo said. 'His athleticism, his pace, his ability to break up plays and give cover to other guys in the back was good.'

With the spring season complete, the Bruins will split up and compete for different squads over the summer. When they return, UCLA has its sights set on another run to the national title game.

'I feel real confident (about next year),' Owens said. 'We're a little older, little bit wiser. Hopefully we can draw on our experiences and go one step further.'

(C) 2007 Daily Bruin via CSTV U-WIRE