Jan. 27, 2007
US SQUAD BEATS UCLA
College team keeps score close
By, Andrea Canales, LASoccerNews.com Associate Editor
CARSON, Calif. - The UCLA Bruins gave the US national squad training at the Home Depot Center a good morning workout in a scrimmage game, coming away with a loss of 3-2.
|Bruin coach Jorge Salcedo and one of the squad's stars, Kyle Nakazawa, after the scrimmage versus the U.S.
Bruin coach Jorge Salcedo was generally pleased with his players, pointing out that the team training had been limited by NCAA regulations.
“The goals we gave away were just a lack of sharpness,” said Salcedo. “We aren’t technically where we’re going to be in a couple of weeks. But overall, I thought it was respectable and we showed well for our program.”
In fact, Salcedo disagreed that his college U20 players, such as Sal Zizzo, Tony Beltran and Brian Perk, would be at any disadvantage against the U20 eligible players who will soon be training with pro teams.
“The [NCAA training] restriction was prior to this game,” explained Salcedo. “We started our spring season today. Now we’ll start training every day, starting next week.”
Goals by Landon Donovan and Sacha Kljestan put the US team up early in the match, but the Bruins were able to get a goal of their own through the work of Sal Zizzo, as he drew a foul in the box, giving UCLA a chance to pull within a goal via a penalty kick.
Zizzo was very familiar with the player that fouled him.
“My old teammate, [Jonny] Bornstein,” Zizzo said.
Mike Zaher put away the penalty past Troy Perkins, who was manning the US net for the first half.
Jimmy Conrad put the U.S back at a two goal advantage when he headed in a goal off a corner kick.
In the second half, however, freshman goalkeeper and U20 backup Brian Perk was able to keep the U.S. squad out of the net entirely, though an entirely fresh squad was put in for the national team.
“We actually won the second half, 1-nothing, but I think we played a lot better in the first half,” said Zizzo.
It was Zizzo again who helped create the second goal. On the attack to get into the box, he drew a foul just outside the area. Kyle Nakazawa stepped up to the free kick and struck it home.
“I think [the goalkeeper] was thinking that I was going to cross the ball,” said Nakazawa. “Fortunately, I saw an opening, the way he was situated, and I just converted it.”
Though Nakazawa has experience on the youth national team squad, he enjoyed competing against the senior level of play.
“It was a great experience, to play a team that represents our county at the national level. It definitely gives us confidence, going back to play at the collegiate level, where teams are not nearly as quick or as confident on the ball as they are.”
For the U.S. players, the scrimmage was at the least good practice.
“When you have to play college teams, it’s tough,” admitted Perkins. “Because for them, it’s the game of the year and for you, it’s a little defeating, because you’re supposed to win, and if you don’t, you look really bad.”
Still, Perkins saw value in the exercise.
“It’s a great opportunity for these younger kids to get some experience against the next level and it gives the rest of us a good opportunity to play against someone else and have someone else kick us instead of our own guys.”