The San Jose State University men's soccer team opens its 2010 season with an exhibition match versus UC Santa Cruz, Wednesday, August 25, in Spartan Stadium. Kick off is at 7:00 p.m.
The Spartans, 9-10-1 last year, have 14 returning letterwinners and eight starters from the squad that finished third in the 2009 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation standings.
UC Santa Cruz was 13-5-2 in 2009.
Head coach Gary St. Clair has these comments about the Spartans' pre-season training.
Q: Tell us about preseason camp.
A: "It's been a very short, yet very, very intense preseason. I think we have a veteran-loaded team. It's probably as much depth as we've had in positions in 10 years. We're really excited about that. We're a little bit shy, I think, in the back line. However, our midfield is extremely deep. We have four or five very good strikers in the program.
At this point in time, it's just a matter of putting the right people in the right spot and working on different roles with the team. I like this team quite a bit."
Q: Is the 2010 team likely to be more offensive or defensive oriented?
A: "Last year, we really struggled scoring goals. We lost a lot of people in 2008. It took us a while to replace them. We're certainly much more attack-minded today than we were at this time last year. That has a lot to do with the quality of players as well as the experience.
We hope to be a far better balanced team. Last year, we were trying to throw shutouts each and every game. While we still try and do that, it was more out of necessity last year, because we were not finding the back of the net.
We have some proven goal scorers now and quite a bit of depth. We're trying to tweak the system of play to be more attacking with two strikers. We'll see how that works. I think we're well ahead of last year."
Q: What does it mean to have Nick Cukar back for 2010? Cukar appeal for another year of eligibility was granted during the summer.
A: "Nick is the goal scorer I was talking about. If he can regain his form, his 2008 form, we're going to make a serious, serious challenge. He was trying to carry quite a bit on shoulders and that rarely works. We're hoping he is back to that form." (Cukar scored seven game-winning goals in 2008.)
Q: What can the San Jose State fans look for Wednesday night against UC Santa Cruz?
A: "I think they can look for a lot more depth. People coming off the bench are a lot better than they have been."