Men’s Soccer Preview

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The Utah Valley University Men’s soccer program is looking to change direction of the team after a 7-8-1 finish in the 2022 season. Capped by a perfect 5-0 home record, the Wolverines are looking to do more than just win at home, they are looking to win it all. 

Not only did Utah Valley accomplish an undefeated record at Clyde Field last season, but they did so by only allowing one goal that came in the final game of the regular season. In that game versus Cal Baptist, the Wolverines scored a goal in the 88th minute, which is the latest goal scored in program history.  

Despite falling to the Lancers in the next game during the Western Athletic Conference Tournament, Utah Valley is trying to repeat its success at home, with a little twist. 

“We are trying to do more now,” junior midfielder Alejandro Silva said. We are not going to settle for just five home wins, we are going to try to hit all games and try to win them.” 

Silva was pivotal in the Wolverines offense last year, scoring two goals and dishing out six assists, which was a team high. Silva also started in all 16 games for Utah Valley last season. 

The Wolverines are coached by former Real Salt Lake captain and United States Men’s National Team midfielder Kyle Beckerman. Beckerman spent 14 years with RSL including a 2009 MLS Cup win. Beckerman was hired by Utah Valley in 2021 and is entering his second season as the head coach.  

“It’s been really a lot of fun just getting on the other side of the game,” Beckerman stated on being a collegiate coach. “But a lot of the same challenges you have are at every level. It does not matter if you are in collegiate or a pro.” 

The Wolverines got their fair share of challenges last season facing No. 5 Oregon State and No. 8 Washington on the road. However, despite not having as many ranked opponents this season, the Wolverines are still up for the challenge ahead of them. Utah Valley will get a ranked opponent this season in No. 13 Portland on Sept. 4th

“We just focus on one game at a time. We have a tough schedule coming up,” Silva said. “So, it’s just one game at a time and all the games we consider are big games for us.” 

While they have already had multiple exhibition games under their belt, Beckerman feels like they have improved since last season. “I really liked it togetherness, we have quite a few new guys so it’s always a difficult period just to get them in feel with the group as quickly as possible,” Beckerman mentioned. “They’ve been really committed to the work and really trying to get their fitness going and their sharpness.” 

While they do have a lot of new student-athletes from the transfer portal, they already notice how well they have blended with each other.  

“I feel like we brought in a lot of good players and the midfield is looking good,” sophomore striker Owen Knecht said. “We shuffled the positions a little bit I think our attack is coming along and just we just need more chemistry but with more time it’ll be better.” 

Knecht, an American Fork High School graduate, spent five years with Sparta United Soccer Club and one year with FC Cincinnati in 2021.  

“Owen’s work rate is second to none. Owen works for the team. He will do dirty work runs, he will do whatever is asked of him and he just puts in the work,” Beckerman said. “He came here in the spring, worked his way up and little by little, his work rate is contagious to the rest of the group.” 

Bringing in fresh players as Beckerman mentioned is essential for the program as the Wolverines struggled offensively last season. As a team, the Wolverines only scored 23 goals in 16 total games and was shut out three times. But there is an emphasis on a better offensive attack this year and Beckerman is excited for the challenge. 

“We have younger guys, we got mid guys, we got older guys. It always feels better when you have some guys with a decent corps that can come back and return,” Beckerman said. “It seems like it has a big effect on good teams and great teams, is that corps there for a while and have a little continuity?” 

Beckerman emphasized continuity and it seems to have stuck with the players as that was a big reason the players committed to Utah Valley in the first place. 

“Soccer is specific is just growing here in Utah. I think this program is just a sleeping giant I think in the next coming years,” Silva said. “It’s going to be one of the top programs in the West Coast.” 

The Wolverines opened season play versus Kansas City on Aug. 24 at Clyde Field, defeating/losing the Roos _-_.  

Utah Valley “hosted” Western Michigan at America First Field in Sandy — formerly known as Rio Tinto Stadium — on Sunday where they fell 3-1. The Wolverines return to Clyde Field on Sept. 16th as they face the Pacific Tigers at 7:30 p.m.