Cobi Jones talks UC Irvine-UCLA
The No. 14 UCLA's men's soccer team continues its rugged nonconference schedule Sunday when it hosts No. 11 UC Irvine at Drake Stadium on the Pac-12 Networks at 2 p.m. PT. This will be the Bruins' fifth match of the year, and the third against a ranked opponent.
Previously, then-ranked No. 2 UCLA opened the season with a loss to No. 6 New Mexico. Then the Bruins went on the road as the nation's 11th-ranked team and played No. 6 Maryland to a 2-2 tie.
Now, here come the Anteaters, who not only pose a formidable threat as a nationally ranked team, but fill the role as geographic rival as well.
"UCLA has some championship mystique and Irvine still has a chip on its shoulder trying to gain that recognition," said Pac-12 Networks soccer analyst Cobi Jones, who will call Sunday's game. "It's time for (UC Irvine) to prove themselves. They're looking at it as if they beat them, now they're the team to look at. They've been overlooked and want to say they are the better team."
The Anteaters are 3-1, but their loss came Friday at Stanford in a game in which they didn't generate a shot on goal in the first half and fell 2-0. The lack of scoring chances is a concern against UCLA's defense, considered the strength of the team behind freshman goalkeeper Juan Cervantes, who has played well in place of injured starter Earl Edwards.
"Defense is the strength right now. UCLA is solid in the back," Jones said. "They have confidence in the back line and goalkeeping so the rest of that team can be an attacking team and do what they do up front. The onus is on Irvine to do something special in this match."