The 2013 college soccer season was not a good one for the Sacramento State Men’s Soccer team.
They finished with an overall record of 3 wins, 11 losses, and 4 draws. Their Big West conference play record of 1 win, 8 losses, and 1 draw was not much better. They also tied their own record for least goals scored with 11. That’s 11 goals scored in 18 matches, an average of .6 goals per game. Suffice it to say that the Hornets were not lighting up the scoreboard.
That was the main thing that Head Coach Michael Linenberger tried to address in recruiting for the 2014 season. An improved attack was necessary if the Hornets wanted to get into the Big West Championship (or at least avoid being stomped on for the second year in a row). The bulk of this year’s recruits were attack minded, with not a single pure defender in the bunch. The only newcomer who is listed as a defender is Devante Raynor, a player from Roseville who is also listed as a midfielder. Other recruits included Elias Rieland and Cylus Sandoval, each with some experience playing in the academy programs of Major League Soccer teams (Real Salt Lake and San Jose Earthquakes for Rieland, just the Earthquakes for Sandoval).
So far the injection of attacking talent has set the team on a pace to score more than they did in 2013, with 8 goals in 9 games. However, even though that puts the Hornets on track to beat their woeful performance from last season it is not something that really fills me with confidence about that team’s ability to succeed when it is time to start playing Big West Conference opponents. Celebrating that the team is on track to more goals than the horrible 2013 season is scraping the bottom of the barrel for things to be happy about to be honest.
That does not mean that this season has been without positives. Most of the them can come from comparing how the 2014 Hornets play compared to the 2013 Hornets. This year there is more technical ability in midfield, which has allowed the team to not rely as much on long ball tactics. There is also a wider distribution of technical ability throughout the team, as opposed to last year when the Hornets relied mostly on Issac Ikyurav to create their chances via one-on-one opportunities. That reliance on one player, albeit a skilled one, made Sac State extremely easy to scout. Opponents just needed to plan around stopping Ikyurav and there were really no other threats to speak of.
This season the standout offensive threat is senior forward Chimidum Mez, who has 4 goals this season. That is double his tally from 2013 and more than any single player scored last year. But while it is great that Mez is enjoying his best goal scoring season in his final year I feel an important question must be asked.
What if he stops scoring? The next highest goal scorer is a four way tie between Andres Garcia, Cody Hoster, Devante Raynor, and Cylus Sandoval with one goal apiece. So if the big man stops scoring it will be up to the rest of the team, especially those new offensive additions, to pick up the slack.
Overall the team is on track to do better than their 2013 season, which is something that Hornets fans should be grateful for. Because two straight seasons of less than a goal per game does not make for a fun soccer experience.
Josh Beeman is in his third semester at KSSU and hosts the show Beeman’s Republic on Thursdays from 7pm to 8 pm, where he talks about American soccer. He specifically talks about USL PRO, Sacramento Republic FC (the local USL PRO team), Major League Soccer, and Sac State Soccer.