No. 4 Stanford men’s soccer (13-2-2, 6-1-2 Pac-12) will host Bay Area rival California (9-5-2, 4-3-2) for its last game of the regular season this coming Thursday.
The Cardinal, who clinched the Pac-12 title outright after the Washington Huskies failed to come out with a win against San Diego State this past Friday, will look to defend their home field, where they have been unbeaten this year. Conference champions for the second year in a row, the Cardinal are 7-0-2 at Cagan Stadium this season with six clean sheets.
Meanwhile, the Golden Bears are on a four-game win streak after two convincing away wins against Washington and Oregon State this past weekend. Cal is playing its best soccer of the season with a potent offense that is clicking just as tournament season is approaching.
Christian Thierjung is a special talent up top for the Bears. The junior forward has found the back of the net five times in his last four games, increasing his total goals to 9 for the season to go along with 4 assists. Thierjung is a physical force in the box and knows how to finish in traffic. He has great chemistry with junior midfielder Jose Carrera-Garcia, who leads the Bears with 10 assists and often dictates the tempo of the game for Cal.
The Golden Bears will square off against one of the best defenses in the nation, anchored by senior captain Brandon Vincent. Stanford has allowed only 0.68 goals per game, a top-15 mark in Division I soccer, and has conceded just four goals in nine home contests.
In the last meeting between the two squads, Stanford came away with a 2-1 victory despite missing junior phenom Jordan Morris due to national team duties. Both teams played a thrilling game of soccer from the start; Stanford matched Cal’s high-paced game by building opportunities from the wings. After exchanging several shots on goal, Vincent converted a penalty in the 15th minute and sophomore Foster Langsdorf added a goal of his own three minutes later to put the Cardinal up 2-0.
The Cardinal will have to replicate their victory without Morris once again. The junior was called up for the USMNT’s 2018 World Cup Qualifiers beginning on Friday against St. Vincent and the Grenadines in St. Louis.
As the Pac-12’s automatic qualifier, Stanford will look to round out the season with a win heading into the NCAA Championship tournament next week.
Contact Irving Rodriguez at irodriguez ‘at’ stanford.edu.