Men's Soccer Announces 2021 Recruiting Class
LOS ANGELES – UCLA men's soccer and head coach Ryan Jorden officially unveiled the program's 2021 recruiting class on Tuesday, featuring five standouts from MLS Youth Academies in California and the Midwest.
The newest group of Bruins garnered a No. 4 national ranking from amateur soccer outlet TopDrawerSoccer, the highest in the Pac-12 and second-highest among all programs in the West. Stanford (No. 7) was the only other Pac-12 program to crack the top-15.
UCLA's incoming five-player class features two forwards, two midfielders, and one goalkeeper. All five players are nationally ranked at their positions.
"We are extremely pleased about this recruiting class," said Jorden. "Very early on in the recruiting window, we identified players that would directly replace our 2021 graduating class, and we believe that we found the ideal player in each position that we were looking to recruit. It has been a very enjoyable process in moving towards this signing day. The work done by our coaching staff, and the relationships that we've built with each of these incoming student-athletes, brings us excitement in regards to our team's future and the potential for each of these talented players."
The 2021 UCLA men's soccer recruiting class consists of MF Charlie Crockford (Northfield, Ill. / Chicago Fire Academy), GK Nathan Crockford (Northfield, Ill. / Chicago Fire Academy), F Aaron Edwards (San Jose, Calif. / SJ Earthquakes Academy), MF Mauricio Gutierrez (Lawndale, Calif. / LAFC Academy), and F Brandon Zelaya (Redwood City, Calif. / SJ Earthquakes Academy).
Below are capsules on all five of the incoming Bruins, featuring bios of their amateur soccer careers as well as a short scouting report from Coach Jorden.
Charlie Crockford – Midfielder – Northfield, Ill. – Chicago Fire Academy (New Trier HS)
Bio: As of National Signing Day, was ranked the No. 7 player in the Midwest region … Attacking midfielder in the Chicago Fire Academy … Prior to joining the Fire, played club with FC United … Led FC United to the Illinois Youth Soccer Association (IYSA) State Cup Championship and USYS Midwest Regional Championship in 2019 … Was named a "Player to Watch" at the 2019 U.S. Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) Showcase … Was a member of his Regional ODP Team.
Jorden's Scouting Report: "Charlie's ability to glide across the field, technical elegance, and tactical soccer IQ should translate to an ability to play in multiple positions at the collegiate level."
Nathan Crockford – Goalkeeper – Northfield, Ill. – Chicago Fire Academy (New Trier HS)
Bio: As of National Signing Day, was ranked as the No. 8 player in the Midwest region … Is the top-ranked goalkeeper in the Midwest region … Has spent time training with Aron Hyde, the current Goalkeeper Coach for the U.S. Men's National Team … Also spent time at FC United before joining the Chicago Fire, serving as a primary keeper for the club in both 2018-19 and 2019-20 … Played for his Regional ODP Team.
Jorden's Scouting Report: "Nate has very good handling technique, strong tactical understanding, a calmness in directing the team in front of him, and is good playing with his feet in keeping possession in the style of the modern-type goalkeeper. He also just makes saves."
Aaron Edwards – Forward – San Jose, Calif. – San Jose Earthquakes Academy (Wilcox HS)
Bio: As of National Signing Day, was ranked as No. 2 player in Northern California … Top-ranked forward in the Northern California region … Played with De Anza Force prior to joining the Earthquakes … De Anza went undefeated and was the top-ranked team in the USSDA during the 2018-19 campaign … Scored five goals over 17 games – including 13 starts – for San Jose's U-18/19 club during the 2019-20 season … Had seven goals in 18 games for De Anza in 2018-19 … Recorded 10 goals for De Anza's U-16/17 club in 2017-18.
Jorden's Scouting Report: "Aaron has a combination of strong physical gifts, clean technique, great technical awareness, and a knack for scoring important goals. He is a fierce competitor and a driving force in his team's successes."
Mauricio Gutierrez – Midfielder – Lawndale, Calif. – LAFC Academy (Lawndale HS)
Bio: As of National Signing Day, was ranked as the No. 6 player in Southern California … Top-ranked midfielder in Southern California, lone mid in the top-10 … Made 12 appearances for LAFC's U-17 club in 2019-20, scoring six goals … Prior to joining LAFC, helped Beach FC win the 2018-19 Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) National Championship … Scored both of Beach FC's goals in a 2-0 win in the ECNL Final … Was called into the U.S. Soccer Youth National Team U-16 training camp in 2019 … Scored the game-winning goal for LAFC in a 2-1 win over Portland in the 2019 Generation Adidas Cup.
Jorden's Scouting Report: "Mauricio is a very dynamic, left-footed midfielder who exudes technical quality in passing and shooting, and drives his teams with work rate and competitiveness."
Brandon Zelaya – Forward – Redwood City, Calif. – San Jose Earthquakes Academy (Woodside Priory HS)
Bio: As of National Signing Day, is ranked the No. 3 player in Northern California … Second-ranked forward in NorCal behind Edwards … Was called up to Mexico's U-18 National Team earlier this year, taking part in a training camp and three exhibition games in January and February … This past season, scored 11 goals in 13 games for the Earthquakes' U-17 club, and one goal in five games for the U-19 club … Ranked in the top-10 for goalscorers nationally at the U-17 level … Like Edwards, played for De Anza prior to joining San Jose and helped them to an undefeated, top-ranked season in 2018-19 … Scored almost a goal per game – 20 in 23 contests – to lead De Anza's offense during the 2018-219 campaign … Scored 27 goals in 36 games for De Anza's U-15 team in 2017-18 … Was called into the U.S. Soccer Youth National Team U-16 training camp in 2019.
Jorden's Scouting Report: "Brandon has natural goal-scoring instincts, which are enhanced by his technical qualities. He has proven to be a valuable asset to his team's attack and we look forward to seeing that continue at UCLA."