Men's Soccer Opens Regular Season at No. 5 New Mexico
AKRON, Ohio - The No. 13 University of Akron men's soccer team heads out west to face No. 5 New Mexico on Friday in their season opener.
Match #1: No. 13 Akron Zips (0-0) vs. New Mexico Lobos (0-0)
Date/Time: Aug. 29, 2014 • 9:00 p.m. ET
Venue: UNM Soccer Complex • Albuquerque, N.M.
Televison: None • Radio: None
Live Stats: LoboStats.com • Video Stream: GoLobos.com (Free)
Tracking the Zips
• Live stats will be available for this weekend's first match at LoboStats.com.
• Additionally, a free video stream will be available, courtesy of Lobos Athletics, at GoLobos.com.
• Follow @ZipsMSoc on Twitter for updates during the match as well as insider access throughout the season.
• This weekend will mark the start of the 60th season of Akron soccer. The Zips own an all-time record of 650-240-84 (.710) since 1955.
• UA will open on the road for the second year in a row, as they grabbed victory 2-0 at College of Charleston last August to open up their season in Mount Pleasant, S.C. for their seventh straight season opener win. Eventual MAC Player of the Year Aodhan Quinn scored the first goal of the season in that game in the 80th minute while Akron took a 2-0 lead on an own goal in the 87th.
• The Zips are 37-16-6 (.678) all-time in season openers and 17-3-1 (.833) since 1993.
The Embick Era
• After taking over the reigns prior to last season, head coach Jared Embick leads the Zips in his second full season atop the program's chain of command. Embick managed UA to a 17-4-1 record last season in his first full season in the head coaching role after serving as former coach Caleb Porter's associate head coach and recruiting coordinator here in Akron for six years.
• Embick returns assistant coach Oliver Slawson (9th season) and goalkeepers coach Stuart Dobson (3rd season) on his staff this year while adding Leo Chappel as an assistant coach. Chappel brings nearly 20 years of collegiate coaching experience to the Zips after stints with Columbia, UCSB, Toronto FC, UNC-Charlotte, and Wake Forest.
• Following the 2013 season, Embick was honored as the All-Ohio Coach of the Year by the Ohio Collegiate Soccer Association.
Zips in the Pros
• Former Zip DeAndre Yedlin of the Seattle Sounders recently agreed to a transfer from his current club to Tottenham Hotspur in England, the first Akron soccer alum to sign a contract in the Premier League. Yedlin was named to Team U.S.A. for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where he appeared in all three games for the United States and brought much attention to his electric and high speed gameplay.
• In addition, 15 other former Zips continue to see time in MLS action with another seven either playing internationally or in the USL.
• Among the 13 letterwinners lost this offseason, five players were either selected in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft or signed MLS homegrown contracts; two in the second round (Robbie Derschang - Philadelphia Union, Eric Stevenson - New York Red Bulls), one in the third (Aodhan Quinn - Philadelphia Union), and one in the fourth (Reinaldo Brenes - Sporting Kansas City), as well as the signing of a homegrown contract by Bryan Gallego with the Portland Timbers.
Preseason Review (Season Preview | Exhibition #1 | Exhibition #2)
• Akron comes off of two exhibitions at home against two high quality opponents in No. 2 Maryland and Syracuse, who is receiving votes.
• Using both games to test out offensive schemes with a projected brand new front line, the Zips fell in both contests, 3-0 to the Terrapins and 2-1 against the Orange.
• Saad Abdul-Salaam scored the first and lone goal for UA in the preseason, dribbling past two defenders and making a shot unassisted at the west end of FirstEnergy Stadium - Cub Cadet Field.
• While the Zips were outshot 15-5 against Maryland, they did have a significant chance hosting Syracuse. The two teams took a 1-1 tie into the final minutes when the Orange crossed a ball into the box and scored on a rebounded ball with three seconds to go in the match.
• The Zips return five starters and eight letterwinners from a team that has lost its top four goalscorers from a year ago and five of its top six.
• After a 5-1 conference record in 2013 including a MAC Championship victory over Western Michigan, the Zips have received four of six first-place votes to win the regular season title in the MAC and three of six to repeat as MAC Tournament champions.
• In NCAA Tournament play, Akron is coming off of a tough loss at Marquette in the second round last November, where a strenuous road environment pushed the squad to a 1-0 defeat in overtime at the hands of the Golden Eagles.
• The returning starters for this season include sophomores Adam Najem (22 G, 4 G, 9 A) and Victor Souto (22 G) in the midfield and senior Saad Abdul-Salaam (20 G, 5 A) and junior Andrew Souders (22 G) playing back along with junior Jake Fenlason (4 G, .818 SV%) in goal.
• Najem, a sophomore midfielder from Clifton, N.J., was named to TopDrawerSoccer.com's Preseason Men's National Top 100, coming in at No. 56.
• Among those in the mix for the six openings up top are, but not limited to, Robby Dambrot, Dener Dos Santos (transfer from UCF), Sam Gainford, Jesse Garcia-Aguilar (Portland Timbers Academy), Stuart Holthusen, Richie Laryea, Anthony Macchione (Portland Timbers Academy), Danilo Radjen (transfer from Cleveland State), Sean Sepe (transfer from St. John's), and Nate Shultz (led his academy in scoring for two straight years).
About New Mexico
• The Lobos are coming off of a 14-6-2 year in which they advanced all the way to the College Cup before losing in a semifinal match to eventual champion Notre Dame, 2-0. New Mexico beat George Mason, Penn State, and Washington on their way to the College Cup played in Philadelphia, Pa. in 2013.
• Ranked No. 5 in the NSCAA Preseason Poll, the Lobos never ranked higher than No. 9 last season, with that rank last coming in mid-September before they slipped to No. 25 for a majority of the year.• New Mexico lost just one Conference USA game last season, falling to South Carolina 1-0 in overtime on their way to a 7-1-1 conference record.
• On the player personnel side, the Lobos added transfer Kevin Correa from St. Francis (N.Y.), a junior forward that instantly made the MAC Hermann Watch List after scoring 13 goals and tacking on six assists for the Terriers in 2013. Correa totaled 1.68 points per game (6th in NCAA), 32 points (8th), 0.68 goals per game (9th), and 13 goals (9th), along with four multi-goal games.
• New Mexico also returns junior midfielder Ben McKendry (5G, 1 A) and senior forward James Rogers (7G, 6A), both also named to the TDS Preseason Men's National Top 100 along with Correa.
New Mexico Series Notes
• Friday's match will represent the fourth meeting between the Zips and Lobos in program history.
• Akron is 1-1-1 against New Mexico in those three previous games, including most recently a tie at home in double overtime in 2011. The Lobos defeated UA in Albuquerque 1-0 in 2008 while the Zips took the first of the head-to-head matchups at home back in 2007, 3-1.