August 20, 2009

Men's Soccer Preview Day 2: Minding the Midfield

Aug. 20, 2009

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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - While the UCSB men's soccer team is expecting to be deeper on all parts of the field in 2009, it is the midfield that could be the true corner stone of the team this season.

"What we do know is that we have the best midfield in college soccer," Vom Steeg said. "We saw that last year and all those players are returning.

"Most of the teams I have coached have been very good in the back and the front and we usually have had one good midfielder. This is the first year that really the strength of our team will be in the midfield."

Of the returnees to the Gaucho midfield, sophomore Luis Silva saw the most minutes in 2008 (1,611 to be exact) and recorded a goal and four assists as a freshman. For his outstanding rookie campaign, Silva earned All-Big West Conference Honorable Mention accolades.

"We expect a big year out of him in the middle of our field," Vom Steeg said.

Fellow sophomore Michael Tetteh, who also got significant playing time last year as a freshman, will join Silva in the midfield. Tetteh started 16 games last season and tallied two goals and an assist.

"We are moving Tetteh - who started some games in the middle and some at left fullback last year - to the middle of our field." Vom Steeg said. "He was probably our best player during the spring. He is the top player to beat and is very good around the goal."

After redshirting last fall, Machael David will finally hit the field this season. The freshman has previous played in the Premier Development League and with Washington Premier's U-19 squad.

"Machael will be a key player for us running out of midfield or as a withdrawn forward or out wide. He will be all over the place in midfield," Vom Steeg said.

Sophomore Danny Barrera returns to Meredith Field after spending his summer playing with the Ventura County Fusion of the Premier Development League. In fact, a couple weeks ago, Barrera helped lead his team to the league title, starting up front and in the midfield for the Fusion.

Barrera recorded plenty of minutes on the field for the Gauchos last year and was tied for first on the team with five assists.

In addition to this "core group of four very, very talented players", as Vom Steeg describes them, senior Jonathan Zerah and sophomores Peter McGlynn and Christian Dahlskog will also add to the depth and experience in the middle of the pitch.

"Johnny Zerah has played in some big games for us," Vom Steeg said. "He started the playoff games against Washington (NCAA Second Round) and Ohio State (NCAA Third Round) two years ago. He is good at marking players and is good at playing simple. He is a very, very smart player and as a senior we expect him to provide a lot of leadership on the field - whether it be out of midfield or out of fullback.

"McGlynn started most of our games last year. He started as a wide player, mostly as a fullback, but because he is very good going forward, we are looking at him starting potentially at midfielder, especially if we are playing with five in the midfield. He is very good at serving the ball and at taking players on."

New to the Gaucho midfield are several skillful freshmen: Christian Ramirez, Josue Madueno, Robbie Boyd, Nic Ryan and Russell Jackson.

"All of our freshman are very dynamic players," Vom Steeg said. "They can each beat the players they are going against one vs. one, which opens up the whole field.

"All of these players give us a lot of depth to play it a lot of different ways - either three inside or five in midfield. Because we are so deep and talented in the midfield, we are talking about playing with five in the middle of our field, we have a lot of choices there."

The Gauchos will be in action for the first time this season on Saturday, Aug. 22 when they host Westmont in an exhibition match at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium.

Check back here tomorrow for a look at the UCSB defense and goalkeepers, the final installment of the three-part 2009 season preview.

For a preview of the Gaucho forwards, click here.

New this year, donations to The Gaucho Fund - regardless of the sport it supports - will be part of the "One Donation is Gold" system. This allows donors to purchase priority/premium seating and parking at UCSB games across several sports in addition to other benefits.

Fans can also receive complimentary priority parking - and cushioned, chair-back seating in the Gold Zone - at Harder Stadium for soccer games by donating to The Gaucho Fund (at a minimum level). Please click here to donate to The Gaucho Fund.

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