Featured Matches
Previous
Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid
1
0
ESPN3 FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 2 - 1
Game Details
Bayern Munich
VfL Wolfsburg
2
1
FT
Game Details
Evian Thonon Gaillard
Paris Saint-Germain
0
0
FT
Game Details
US Pescara
Chievo Verona
1
0
FT
Game Details
Guimaraes
FC Penafiel
3
0
FT
Game Details
FC Dallas
Real Salt Lake
0
0
LIVE 29'
Game Details
Morelia
U.A.N.L
1
2
ESPNDeportes LIVE 64'
Game Details
Bayern Munich
VfL Wolfsburg
2
1
FT
Game Details
Evian Thonon Gaillard
Paris Saint-Germain
0
0
FT
Game Details
Aldershot Town
Forest Green Rovers
1
1
FT
Game Details
Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid
1
0
ESPN3 FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 2 - 1
Game Details
US Pescara
Chievo Verona
1
0
FT
Game Details
Heidenheimer SB
TSV 1860 Munich
2
2
FT
Game Details
RB Leipzig
FC Erzgebirge Aue
1
0
FT
Game Details
St Pauli
SV Sandhausen
2
1
FT
Game Details
AC Ajaccio
Tours
1
0
FT
Game Details
Angers
Chateauroux
1
1
FT
Game Details
Arles
Sochaux
2
2
FT
Game Details
AS Nancy Lorraine
Nimes
0
0
FT
Game Details
Clermont Foot
Ajaccio GFCO
3
4
FT
Game Details
Créteil
Niort
1
1
FT
Game Details
Orléans
Brest
1
0
FT
Game Details
Troyes
Stade Laval
0
0
FT
Game Details
Valenciennes
Le Havre AC
0
4
FT
Game Details
SC Heracles Almelo
Cambuur Leeuwarden
0
1
FT
Game Details
Almere City
Jong FC Twente
0
1
FT
Game Details
FC Den Bosch
RKC Waalwijk
2
3
FT
Game Details
FC Emmen VV
Jong PSV
5
0
FT
Game Details
Helmond Sport
FC Oss
2
1
FT
Game Details
Jong Ajax
FC Volendam
0
5
FT
Game Details
MVV Maastricht
Sparta Rotterdam
0
2
FT
Game Details
NEC Nijmegen
Fortuna Sittard
5
1
FT
Game Details
Roda JC Kerkrade
FC Eindhoven
2
1
FT
Game Details
SC Stormvogels Telstar
Achilles '29
2
0
FT
Game Details
VVV Venlo
De Graafschap
1
0
FT
Game Details
Guimaraes
FC Penafiel
3
0
FT
Game Details
Terek Grozny
FC Arsenal Tula
3
0
FT
Game Details
Racing Genk
KAA Gent
3
2
FT
Game Details
Mjallby
Helsingborg
1
2
FT
Game Details
Sandnes Ulf
Viking FK
2
2
FT
Game Details
FC Dallas
Real Salt Lake
0
0
LIVE 29'
Game Details
Morelia
U.A.N.L
1
2
ESPNDeportes LIVE 64'
Game Details
Santos
Toluca
2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Newi Cefn Druids
Aberystwyth
0
5
FT
Game Details
Prestatyn Town
Connah's Quay
3
2
FT
Game Details
T.N.S.
Bangor City
2
0
FT
Game Details
Arsenal de Sarandí
Olimpo de Bahía Blanca
1
0
FT
Game Details
Tigre
Racing Club
4
0
FT
Game Details
Atlante
Coras Tepic
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Mineros de Zacatecas
Oaxaca
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Correcaminos
Dorados de Sinaloa
1:30 AM GMT
Game Details
América Mineiro
AA Ponte Preta
3
0
FT
Game Details
Oeste
Boa MG
2
1
FT
Game Details
Icasa
CR Vasco da Gama
0
1
LIVE 45'
Game Details
Santiago Wanderers
Audax Italiano
2
2
LIVE 90' +4'
Game Details
Defensor Sporting
Rentistas
1
2
FT
Game Details
Liga de Loja
Club Deportivo Cuenca
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Universidad De Costa Rica
Pumas Generalena
3
1
FT
Game Details
Honduras Progreso
Platense
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Next

WhoScored: Zabaleta-Sterling a key battle

Tactics And Analysis 8 hours ago
Read
Nov 19, 2009

Vetting the contenders (and others) for the Cup

The 48 NCAA men's soccer teams that will be contending for a national championship this year have been announced. As always, it's an interesting combination of sure bets, not-a-chances, favorites, underdogs and dark horses.

Here's a look at some of the teams that hope to battle it out and earn their place in the annals of college soccer history -- or at least a spot in this year's College Cup:

Maryland

The Terrapins came into the year with high expectations, both internal and external. After winning the national championship in 2008, Maryland was expected to contend again. And for the most part, the team has.

However, it has been a bit of an up-and-down year in College Park -- perhaps even more so than the Terps' 12-5-2 record shows.

Eleven of the 26 players on Maryland's roster are freshmen, as the team looked to restock from graduation and early-departure losses. Injuries left many of the Terps' top players sidelined in the second half of the season, to the point that coach Sasho Cirovski estimates he has been playing with only two or three players at 100 percent.

"We've hung around all year and just been trying to survive," Cirovski said. "I feel, in a lot of ways, it's been a highly successful season for our team. We're very young, and we've had to rely on [our freshmen] quite a bit during the injury spell. I still have high hopes for this team and believe that we can make a run in the tournament. It's been a year that we've come through some difficult teams, and yet we're still in pretty good shape."

A 1-0 loss to Virginia in the ACC tournament marked another drop in Maryland's roller-coaster season. But Cirovski hopes the early conference playoff exit will provide the extra time and motivation to help propel his team upward.

"A veteran team can learn just as much through winning," Cirovski said. "But having a young team, I think, sometimes a loss really grabs their attention. The finality of the ACC tournament is similar to the NCAA tournament. I think our players really will embrace what that means, and I think we're going to be a tough out."

Ranked in the top 10 nationally for all but one week this season, the Terps certainly will be favored to make an impact in the tournament. Although he can at times come across as sounding reserved about his team's chances, Cirovski believes the Terps have the ability to be successful in the postseason.

"I still think we have a very good run inside of us," Cirovski said. "We're not done yet."

Akron

There's no question the Zips are the team to beat. However, despite the Zips' 20-0 record this season, there are still those who have reservations about Akron because of its Mid-American Conference background. A team doesn't go undefeated and receive the tournament's No. 1 seed based on luck and a weak schedule. The Zips are the real deal, but favorites have fallen in the NCAA tournament. Everyone will be gunning for this team, and it's up to coach Caleb Porter's squad to answer the skeptical once and for all. If not, it will be an even longer winter in Ohio.

Home-state favorites

One would be remiss to discuss the favorites without mentioning North Carolina and Wake Forest. Not only are they two of the top teams in the nation, but with Cary, N.C., hosting the College Cup, the finals will be taking place in those schools' backyard (as if the extra incentive was needed this time of year).

Third-seeded Wake Forest is aiming for its fourth straight College Cup appearance. The Demon Deacons (14-3-3) were the overwhelming favorite to win it all last season, falling short in the semifinal. The team is considered to be on the short list of serious contenders again in 2009.

UNC (13-2-3) has been strong all season, following up on a 2008 campaign in which the Tar Heels finished runners-up to Maryland. The No. 5 seed, North Carolina leads the ACC in goals per game (2.11) and total goals allowed (11). Those numbers against conference opponents could be a key indicator for success this postseason as ACC teams look to be a threat in virtually every corner of the bracket.

The old reliables and the new guys

Three teams continue a streak of 20 or more consecutive NCAA tournament appearances this season, while four teams make their postseason debut.

Virginia leads the way as the program returns for the 29th straight year. UCLA is back for the 27th consecutive year, while Indiana's streak of NCAA tournament appearances extends to 23. The Cavaliers (No. 2 seed) and Bruins (No. 6) hope to prove they're not just perennial tournament teams but legitimate contenders for the College Cup. As for the unseeded Hoosiers, they have demonstrated plenty of times during the past two-plus decades that no one should ever count them out.

Of course, such impressive streaks always begin with a single game. Wofford, UNC-Wilmington, Sacramento State and St. Mary's (California) are all making their first trips to the NCAA tournament.

Talk about a turnaround

Stanford had little to be excited about when the annual NCAA selection show rolled around last season. The Cardinal went 4-11-3 in 2008, scoring just 14 goals in 18 games. A year later, the team was glad to tune in. Stanford earned an at-large bid after going 10-5-2 (scoring 24 goals in 17 games) this season.

For Missouri State, the 180-degree about-face happened in the past eight games. After starting the season 5-3-2, the Bears went 7-1 to close out the campaign and earn an at-large bid for their first postseason appearance in decade.

Depending how it all shakes out …

It's completely possible that the ACC could field three teams in the College Cup for the second year in a row. The way the bracket shakes out, Virginia, UNC and Wake Forest could meet in Cary just weeks from now.

For West Coast soccer fans, Nov. 29 could shape up to be quite a game, as UCLA and UCSB could meet in the third round for a rematch of the 2006 national championship game.

The NCAA tournament is a test for any team. It comes down to tangibles (skill, training, set pieces) and intangibles (determination, focus, drive and, yes, luck). Although the outcomes are impossible to predict, one thing is certain: In just 24 days, one team will be crowned national champion.

Maria Burns Ortiz covers college soccer for ESPNsoccernet. She can be reached at mariamburns@gmail.com.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.