The University of Michigan men's soccer team (0-0-0) opens up its 2014 season with a pair of home matches, first taking on the FIU Panthers (0-0-0) Friday (Aug. 29) at 4 p.m. before closing out the opening weekend with a matchup against the SMU Mustangs (0-0-0) on Sunday (Aug. 31) at 2 p.m. Michigan is 11-3 all-time in season openers, including a 2-0 mark in the Chaka Daley era. The last time U-M lost at home to open the season was in 2011, as the Wolverines were defeated by Butler by a 2-1 count.
• Michigan came in at No. 3 in the Big Ten Coaches' Preseason Poll, the highest ranking U-M has received during the Chaka Daley era. Maryland, the No. 2 team in the NSCAA Preseason Poll, tops the rankings, followed by No. 10 Michigan State in the No. 2 spot. The Wolverines are ranked ahead of No. 15 Penn State, which is No. 4 in the poll, as well as No. 21 Wisconsin, which is No. 7 in the poll. Indiana, which is receiving votes in the NSCAA poll, comes in at No. 5, while Northwestern is No. 6. Rutgers and Ohio State round out the poll in the No. 8 and No. 9 spots, respectively.
• Michigan is ranked as the No. 19 team in the TopDrawerSoccer.com Preseason Poll.
• 2013 Big Ten midfielder of the Year Tyler Arnone returns to anchor the midfield. Last season, the co-captain became the fourth player in U-M history to earn back-to-back first team All-Big Ten accolades.
• The fifth-year senior enters his final season with 29 points in his career (nine goals, 11 assists) and 112 shots. He also has two game-winning goals.
• Eight starters from the 2013 season return for the 2014 campaign in leading scorer James Murphy, Arnone, senior/junior Colin McAtee and senior Marcos Ugarte, as well as sophomore defenders Lars Eckenrode, Rylee Woods and Andre Morris. Also, three-year starter Adam Grinwis returns in goal for the Wolverines.
• Several Wolverines earned preseason accolades, headlined by Arnone earning TopDrawerSoccer.com Best XI third team honors, First Team All-Preseason Big Ten by College Sports Madness and Big Ten Player to Watch status. Grinwis and Ugarte were also members of the Big Ten Player to Watch List. College Sports Madness named freshman Ahinga Selemani as the Big Ten Preseason Freshman of the Year, while Eckenrode and TJ VanSlooten were named to the first and second teams, respectively. Lastly, freshman goalkeeper Evan Louro was named to the Top Drawer Best XI All-Freshman squad.
• U-M is 14-6-3 all-time at home under the direction of Chaka Daley.
• Prior to the 2014 season, a new playing surface was installed at U-M Soccer Stadium. The sod derived from Graff's Turf Farm in Fort Morgan, Colo., and was installed by Bush Turf Colo. The sod was transported across the country in a pair of refrigerated trucks in rolls that were 100 feet long. The grass was grown in 90 percent sand base, which is a short cut stadium variety, and is maintained at one inch. The previous playing surface was recycled and composted. The project was completed in April, allowing three months for the pitch to settle. The installation took five days in total.
"We are confident we now have one of the best soccer facilities in the nation," said UMSS facility manager Paul Dunlop. "Our combination of a fantastic venue and a world class playing surface are is one of the top setups in the country."
• U-M inked six prep standouts in Jacob Duska (Erie, Pa./Cathedral Prep), Tristan Jacob (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer), Nate Kohl (Hillard, Ohio/Hillard Darby), Evan Louro(Holmdel, N.J./St. John Vianney), Ahinga Selemani (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer) and Billy Stevens (New Hyde Park, N.Y./New Hyde Park). Additionally, U-M welcomed a Georgia State transfer in junior midfielder William Mellors-Blair (Nottingham, England/The Nottingham Bluecoat School/Georgia State) at the mid-semester break in January. The class is ranked as the No. 2 haul in the country, according to TopDrawerSoccer.com and College Soccer News. Two players, Selemani and Louro, were recently named to the United States U-20 Men's National Team and are consensus top-25 recruits, along with Nate Kohl.
• Several Wolverines switched their kit numbers from last season to this season. Ugarte will man the No. 10 shirt, switching from his previous No. 8 digit. Additionally, sophomore Yamann Sahlool switched from No. 24 to No. 20.
• Michigan is 11-3 all-time in season openers, including a 2-0 mark in the Chaka Daley era. The last time U-M lost at home to open the season was in 2011, as the Wolverines were defeated by Butler by a 2-1 count.
• Following the 2013 season, assistant coach Ian Gordona left the program a job on the Ohio State coaching staff. Former volunteer assistant Jhojan Obando was promoted to full-time assistant, a position he has held for the past two seasons since head coach Chaka Daley's hiring. Obando will assist with all program duties and continue to work with the team's goalkeepers.
Also joining the team as a program assistant is former Lafayette assistant coach Justin Makar. He spent the past three seasons with the Leopards as an assistant coach and will perform day-to-day operations, film and other duties as assigned.
• Since head coach Chaka Daley's arrival in Ann Arbor prior to the 2012 season, U-M has sent three players on to the professional ranks in Luke Coulson (Cardiff City, English Premier League), Kofi Opare (D.C. United) and most recently Fabio Pereira (Sounders FC).
• When Manchester United and Real Madrid took the field for the premiere game of the 2014 Guinness International Champions Cup, it was in front of a record crowd of 109,318 -- the largest to attend a soccer match in the United States.
Manchester United claimed the 3-1 victory, earning two goals from midfielder Ashley Young in the first half -- including an impressive pass play in front to open scoring in the 21st minute -- and another on a header from Javier Hernandez to ice the game in the 80th minute. Midfielder Gareth Bale scored the lone goal from Real Madrid on a first-half penalty kick, finding the lower right-side corner of the net to temporarily even the score in the 27th minute.
"It was great to play in it," said Manchester United defender Michael Keane, who played all 90 minutes.
"It's obviously the biggest crowd I've ever played in front of. It was great experience. Just a massive stadium, and the fans were great. Considering football is not supposed to be that big in America, it was a massive game, wasn't it? It's obviously growing over here, and hopefully that will continue."
With the win, Manchester United earned a spot in the ICC championship match, and defeated Liverpool three days later in Miami by a 3-1 score line to take home the trophy at Sun Life Stadium.
• The contest was the first soccer match ever played inside Michigan Stadium. It is the second non-football, non-NCAA game featured this year, joining the NHL's 2014 Winter Classic.
• The announced attendance of 109,318 is the largest crowd to ever witness a soccer game in the United States. It was just the third time that a soccer game eclipsed the 100,000-fan mark and the first time outside of the Rose Bowl.
• Michigan Stadium now holds the U.S. attendance records for football, hockey and soccer.
• The match marked the first time either club played in the state of Michigan.
• The Fray performed two songs during halftime of the match. Approximately 200 volunteers helped with the performance.
• Manchester United's Ashley Young was named the Guinness Man of the Match after scoring two goals. Man U captain Darren Fletcher also earned several votes after posting a pair of assists.
• The estimated economic impact of the game for Washtenaw County could reach $15-20 million.
LARGEST SOCCER CROWDS IN UNITED STATES
|2014||ICC||Manchester United 3, Real Madrid 1||109,318||Michigan Stadium|
|1984||Olympics||France 2, Brazil 0||101,799||Rose Bowl|
|1984||Olympics||Yugoslavia 2, Italy 1||100,374||Rose Bowl|
|1984||Olympics||France 4, Yugoslavia 2||97,451||Rose Bowl|
|1994||World Cup||Brazil 0, Italy 0||94,194||Rose Bowl|
FIU -- FIU enters Friday's match after going 1-0 in preseason exhibitions under first year head coach Scott Calabrese. The Panthers downed North Florida by a 1-0 count on Aug. 18 behind a penalty-kick goal from Ismael Longa in the 101st minute. Three keepers saw action for FIU in goal. The Panthers were selected to finish seventh in the preseason poll in a conference that boasts four schools ranked in the NSCAA Preseason top-25. Forward Quinton Albrecht was the lone Panther to be named to the preseason All-Conference team after earning All-Conference USA second-team last season with six goals and four assists.
The all-time series is even at 1-1, with the last meeting coming on Sept. 16, 2007, as U-M downed the Panthers, 5-1, in Ann Arbor.
SMU -- The Mustangs were picked in finish sixth in the American Athletic Conference Preseason Poll out of eight teams. Last season, the Ponies finished AAC play with a 2-4-2 conference mark and were 3-12-2 overall. SMU went 1-0-2 in exhibition matches, tying Incarnate Word, 0-0, as well as Houston Baptist 1-1. The win came over UT Dallas by a 2-0 score line.
This is the first meeting between the two schools.
Keep Up With the Wolverines -- Stay current with everything going on with your Wolverines by following Michigan men's soccer on twitter (@umichsoccer) and "liking" the Wolverines on Facebook! Fans can also follow in-match commentary by following the hashtag #UMLive
Saturday, Sept. 6 -- at Columbia (New York, N.Y.), 3 p.m.
Contact: Scott Kemps