BERKELEY – After surging into all the major men’s soccer national rankings, California (2-0-0) prepares to face long-time local rival San Francisco on Thursday, Sept. 5, at 7 p.m. at USF’s Negoesco Stadium. The Golden Bears are ranked as high as No. 4 in the Soccer America poll and claimed a No. 10 ranking in the NSCAA poll, after knocking off then-No. 3 Georgetown, 2-0, and then-No. 2 Maryland, 3-2, in overtime to open the season. USF is unranked.
Cal has a 15-21-3 record in the all-time series with the Dons. The teams tied, 0-0, in double overtime last season on Goldman Field at Edwards Stadium.
Birnbaum Collects Kudos
National soccer watchers also took notice of the performances of Cal fifth-year senior Steve Birnbaum in the first two matches, as the Pac-12 Conference and Top Drawer Soccer named him their Player of the Week and College Soccer News named him to its national Team of the Week. The Cal co-captain scored in both matches, converting a penalty kick against Georgetown, scoring the first goal against Maryland and assisting on Alec Sundly’s golden goal against Maryland. Those marked the defender’s third- and fourth-career goals and his first goals against teams other than Oregon State.
Here are Cal’s various rankings so far this week: No. 4 (Soccer America), No. 5 (College Soccer News), No. 10 (NSCAA) and No. 12 (Top Drawer Soccer). Soccer Times had not released this week’s poll as of press time.
Cal will play a total of six games against teams currently ranked in the NSCAA’s Sept. 3 poll. Besides the games against Georgetown and Maryland, the Bears will play the following ranked teams: No. 6 UCLA (Oct. 13 in Los Angeles, Nov. 3 in Berkeley) and No. 19 Washington (Oct. 6 in Berkeley, Nov. 10 in Seattle).
Scouting the Golden Bears
Steve Birnbaum leads Cal in points (5) and goals (20
Junior midfielder Seth Casiple leads Cal in assists (2)
After playing in the first two games of his career – and shutting out Georgetown – redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Justin Taillole has compiled a 0.97 goals-against average
Redshirt freshman defender Mason Case earned the first point of his career – an assist against Maryland
Cal’s co-captains are Birnbaum, Casiple and senior midfielder Alec Sundly
Kevin Grimes is in his 14th season as head coach at Cal; the former SMU All-American (class of 1990) claimed five Pac-10 Coach of the Year awards (2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010) before the Conference became the Pac-12 in 2011
The Pac-12 Networks will broadcast a total of nine Cal games – including five home matches – this season. Cal’s next match on Pac-12 television is the Oct. 6 clash with conference foe Washington in Berkeley.
Scouting the Dons
Playing at home, USF beat LIU-Brooklyn, 2-0, in its Aug. 30 season opener and likewise blanked Air Force, 2-0, on Sept. 1
The Cal game is the Dons’ third match of a four-game homestand
Senior midfielder Mauricio Diaz De Leon leads USF in points (3 from 1 goal and 1 assist)
USF played different goalies in its first two games, and both have 0.00 GAAs after the shutouts: junior Chase Hauser – a transfer from Cal Poly – made two saves against LIU-Brooklyn, while redshirt freshman Connor Gaal made five saves against Air Force
Former Bear Michael Shaddock (1 assist) is a senior forward for the Dons
Erik Visser is in his 14th season as USF’s head coach
Cal plays at Penn State on Sept. 13 in University Park, Pa.