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Blassou, Grassi Tabbed to United Soccer Coaches Preseason Watch List

Aug 9, 2022
Nicolas Blassou (L) and Pietro Grassi (photo: Eric Hurd)

LOS ANGELES – UCLA center backs Nicolas Blassou and Pietro Grassi were both named to the United Soccer Coaches Players to Watch - Defenders list for the 2022 season on Tuesday.

UCLA was the only school in the country with multiple honorees on the 24-man list. In addition, they were the lone players selected from the Pac-12 Conference.

Grassi, a sophomore, is coming off a superlative debut season in Westwood. As a frosh in 2021, he was a first team all-region and Freshman All-America choice after leading UCLA's defensive efforts in an 11-win season. The Milan, Italy native logged a team-high 1,708 minutes over the course of the season, playing the full 90 in all but two contests. He also contributed a pair of assists on the year, most notably setting up Jose Contell's late-game equalizer in an eventual 2-1 NCAA Tournament win over UC Santa Barbara on Nov. 18.

Blassou, a grad student, is entering his first season with the blue-and-gold after a standout four-year undergrad career at Kentucky and American University. The Rockville, Md. native was especially impressive over a two-year stint with American from 2020-21, starting all 26 of his team's games and earning all-league acclaim in back-to-back seasons. American's team-leader in minutes in both 2020-21 and 2021, Blassou was a second team all-region choice last fall.

UCLA, which enters the campaign ranked No. 23 in the United Soccer Coaches Preseason Poll, begins its 2022 schedule on Monday, Aug. 15 with an exhibition tilt against Westmont. The Bruins officially open the regular season on Aug. 25 by hosting UC Irvine at Wallis Annenberg Stadium starting at 7:00 p.m. PT.

Stay tuned to @UCLAMSoccer on Twitter and Instagram for all team updates.