Former UCLA Player Making His Mark As Head Coach
By Serena Lee
Jorge Salcedo has a way of winning. He did it as a soccer player at UCLA, and is doing it all over again as head coach of the Bruins' men's soccer team.
Despite having one of the youngest teams in the Pac-10, Salcedo has managed to guide the 2010 Bruins to an 8-2-1 start, including a perfect 3-0 in conference play. They are ranked No. 7 in the country by Top Drawer Soccer and are gearing up for the annual showdown with Northern California rivals Stanford (Friday, October 15) and Cal (Sunday, October 17).
Salcedo always had a goal of someday being able to coach the UCLA men's soccer team and he made the goal a reality in 2004. His father was a Bruins assistant coach from 1978-1979, 11 years before Jorge became a star player at UCLA.
Salcedo has been a part of three UCLA championship teams. He was a ball boy for UCLA during its first championship year in 1985, scored the game-winning penalty kick in the 1990 Championship game, and was an assistant coach for the 2002 squad.
He has carried the standard of success he learned as a player back into the program as the head coach. And being the guy who scored the game winning goal for the national championship as a freshman, Salcedo understands the value of building around young players.
"I have high expectations for the team because it's a group of guys that knows how to compete and knows how to win," Salcedo said. "I really base our success on how much progress we make as a team, collectively and individually. I want us to get better collectively as a team and for the guys to continue to perform."
And performing they are, especially the youngsters. The majority of the starting team is composed of underclassmen and during last weekend's games, all five goals were scored by freshmen. Of the 18 players who have made at least one start this season, 13 of them are underclassmen. This is a stark difference from last year's team that included eight seniors—five of whom were drafted by Major League Soccer teams.
"Five of the eight became professional soccer players," Salcedo said. "This just speaks well to the job these guys have been doing."
He has filled the void of talent by bringing in the No.1 recruiting class in the nation for the third time in his seven seasons as head coach. The previous two times he coached the top freshman class in the country, the Bruins won the Pac-10 title (2004) and advanced to the NCAA Championship game (2006). History could repeat itself in 2010 as they share the Pac-10 lead with Cal thus far.
For Salcedo, his favorite part of coaching is being on the practice field, spending time with the guys and getting to know the players on and off the field. While the faces have changed, one thing has not - singing. The team has continued its tradition of singing songs on the bus to and from the airport. They have also continued their tradition of winning.
With the Bay Area battle at Stanford and the first place showdown with Cal looming, the song selection may still be up in the air, but one thing is for certain: Salcedo will have his players ready to go no matter how young they are.