Los Angeles Soccer: Chandler Hoffman

Galaxy acquire ex-UCLA star Hoffman

March, 1, 2013
The Los Angeles Galaxy added some offensive depth to its roster when the team announced Friday it had acquired second-year forward and former UCLA All-American Chandler Hoffman from the Philadelphia Union.

The Galaxy gave up a conditional pick in next year's MLS SuperDraft.

Hoffman, 22, appeared in only seven games in his rookie season with Philadelphia, making two starts.

During his final season at UCLA, Hoffman scored 18 goals with six assists to lead the Bruins to the NCAA College Cup semifinals. The goal total was the most in a season for a UCLA player since 1991.

The Galaxy, the two-time defending MLS Cup champions, open their season Sunday against the Chicago Fire at the Home Depot Center at 2 p.m.

MLS: Singh adds to local flavor

March, 19, 2012

Sporting Kansas City on Monday signed supplemental draft pick Shawn Singh, boosting UCLA's presence in Major League Soccer and adding to the 53 local players already on rosters.

Singh, a left back from Bakersfield, is the fourth Bruin rookie in MLS this season, joining Philadelphia's Chandler Hoffman, Seattle's Andy Rose and New England's Kelyn Rowe.

Other local rookies: Cal State Northridge midfielder Rafael Garcia with the Galaxy, UC Riverside forward Cesar Diaz Pizarro with San Jose, UC Santa Barbara midfielders Luis Silva with Toronto FC and Sam Garza with San Jose.

Two new local signings -- Galaxy midfielder Jose Villarreal and Chivas USA midfielder Marvin Iraheta -- started the season sidelined by injury.

Here is a list of local players in MLS (with hometown/local high school in parentheses, with local college following):

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MLS DRAFT: Rowe goes as Hoffman waits

January, 12, 2012

Kelyn RoweMajor League SoccerUCLA's Kelyn Rowe, who was drafted No. 3 by New England, says he's honored to going to that organization.

CARSON -- Chandler Hoffman had heard the buzz, how his superb performance at Major League Soccer's pre-draft combine in Florida -- on top of his 18-goal, All-America showing for NCAA semifinalist UCLA -- had vaulted him into the top five, maybe the top three in the MLS SuperDraft.

So when Commissioner Don Garber began announcing the New England Revolution's selection with the third pick Thursday morning at the Kansas City Convention Center -- first noting the player was a Generation adidas signing from UCLA -- Hoffman got excited.

For a second or two.

It was Bruins teammate Kelyn Rowe the Revolution grabbed at No. 3, and Chandler sat down to wait. And wait. And wait.

Chandler Hoffman
Major League SoccerIt was a longer wait than expected for UCLA's Chandler Hoffman, who was picked No. 13 overall by the Philadelphia Union.

By the time the striker from Birmingham, Ala., finally heard his name, he first round was two-thirds through and the Philadelphia Union, choosing 13th, was giddy.

“Pretty surprising. But good for us, right?” Union assistant coach John Hackworth told the league's website. “We get one of the best young attacking players in he country, someone that's proven to put the ball into the back of the net. There's nothing more valuable in all of soccer.”

Hoffman's slide down he draft table was one of the big stories out of the headlining festivities at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's annual convention, but not the only one involving local players.

There was Rowe, an attacking midfielder from Federal Way, Wash., whom New England coach Jay Heaps described during ESPN2's draft coverage as “a really critical player to our team.”

And there were UC Santa Barbara standouts Luis Silva (Los Angeles/Salesian HS), who went to Toronto FC with the fourth overall selection, and Texan Sam Garza, taken by San Jose at No. 6.

Plus UC Irvine's Miguel Ibarra, a quartet of UCLA players, English midfielder Andy Rose most prominent among them, and several other hopefuls from local schools who now turn their attention to Tuesday's four-round supplemental draft.

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MLS DRAFT: Chivas, Galaxy target needs

January, 12, 2012

Chivas USA got its man, the Galaxy bolstered its ailing backline, and UCLA's Kelyn Rowe was the No. 3 overall selection in Thursday's MLS SuperDraft.

Chandler Hoffman surprisingly slipped into the teens and two UC Santa Barbara products were taken with the first six picks and Major League Soccer's most visible -- but not necessarily most productive -- player-acquisition mechanism unfolded in Kansas City.

The Goats took Maryland's Casey Townsend, the best senior forward in the draft, with the No. 5 selection, and the Galaxy, reeling from Omar Gonzalez's knee injury, used its pick at the end first round pick on big Indiana central defender Tommy Meyer, who has U-17 World Cup experience.

Rowe went early to New England, but teammate Hoffman fell to 13th, where Philadelphia added to its collection of UCLA alums.

Two UC Santa Barbara products were taken in the top six, with midfielder Luis Silva (Los Angeles/Salesian HS) going to Toronto FC with the fourth pick and forward/midfielder Sam Garza taken by San Jose at No. 6.

Townsend, a first-team All-American who scored 17 goals as a senior and 43 in four seasons at Maryland, said he was hoping to join Chivas after talking to head coach Robin Fraser at the MLS Player Combine in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“It was very exciting, very nerve-racking,” Townsend, MVP of the combine, told ESPN Los Angeles. “I was really hoping to go to Chivas. I had a great sit-down meeting with them. They were my gut feeling, and I was really excited to hear them call my name.”

The Galaxy's plan was to take the best player available, and it turned out to be a center back, a position of need following MLS Defender of the Year Gonzalez's torn ACL last week on the first day of a loan to FC Nuremberg.

Meyer started 79 games in four seasons at Indiana, which, like Maryland, is a longtime national powerhouse. He credited Hoosiers head coach Todd Yeagley and assistant Brian Maisonneuve -- former IU stars who played in MLS; Maisonneuve was on the 1998 U.S. World Cup team -- with furthering his development.

“They really pushed me, especially this year, to take the next step and, hopefully, be ready for MLS,” Meyer said.

The Galaxy selected Louisville defensive midfielder Kenney Walker, a technically gifted player who impressed at the combine, with the 38th pick to end the SuperDraft.

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MLS DRAFT: Local prospects

January, 11, 2012
Chandler Hoffman and Kelyn Rowe aren't going to last very long once the MLS SuperDraft begins Thursday morning, and Luis Silva, Sam Garza, Miguel Ibarra and Andy Rose figure to be nabbed soon after.

They're the big names, but hardly the only ones, among local players aiming for an opportunity with a Major League Soccer team. There are nearly two dozen players who grew up or went to school in Greater Los Angeles hoping to hear their names called in Kansas City.

Some of them, let's be honest, don't have a shot, not with just two rounds of picks -- 38 in all. Next week's supplemental draft will provide possibilities, and players will be looking to participate in team combines and in trials during preseason training.

Some might look abroad -- there are leagues everywhere on the planet -- and there are two professional minor leagues (NASL, USL Pro) and several pro clubs in the Premier Development League and its rival NPSL.

Here's a quick rundown of 22 players who might find a job in MLS, if the right situation develops:

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MLS DRAFT: Top 3 for UCLA's Hoffman?

January, 10, 2012
Final mock drafts should start showing up online any minute now, and nearly all of them will continue to have Jamaican speedster Darren Mattocks, a University of Akron sophomore, going to Montreal with the first pick in Thursday's MLS SuperDraft in Kansas City, and Vancouver following by taking defender/midfielder Andrew Wenger, a Duke junior considered the one sure thing on the board.

Chandler Hoffman
Marvin Gentry/US PresswireUCLA forward Chandler Hoffman could go as high as No. 3 in the MLS SuperDraft on Thursday.

Who goes third? Might be UCLA striker Chandler Hoffman, a Generation adidas player (like Mattocks and Wenger) whose rising stock grew with superb performances in his first two games at the MLS Player Combine, which wrapped up Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Hoffman, who scored 18 goals to lead the Bruins to the NCAA semifinals, scored an 80th-minute winner to lift adiPower to a 3-2 victory in Friday's combine opener -- moments after forcing a huge save on a breakaway -- and added the first goal in a 2-1 win Sunday.

AdiPower won the tournament with a 3-0-0 record, scoring nine goals behind Hoffman, Maryland forward Casey Townsend, Dartmouth forward Lucky Mkosana and attacking midfielders Kelyn Rowe of UCLA and Luis Silva of UC Santa Barbara.

“It's always good when the roster came out to see I had Kelyn and Luis and then Casey up top with me ...,” Hoffman said in a video posted on the Soccer By Ives blog. “It's made my job easy, just combining with them, playing simple and moving the ball.”

Hoffman, of course, has played the past two seasons with Rowe, a sophomore also expected to go early in the first round. And Silva (Los Angeles/Salesian HS), another first-round certainty, was Hoffman's summer teammate with USL Premier Development League side Orange County Blue Star.

The Alabaman and Townsend, who is considered the best senior forward (and, with Silva, the best senior) available in the draft, could have been teammates at Maryland -- and their connection at the combines suggests the Terrapins might have won a couple more NCAA titles had he not chosen UCLA.

Sasho [Cirovski, Maryland's coach], when he was recruiting me, always talked about me and Casey playing together one day,” Hoffman told Major League Soccer's website. “Who knew it would be today?”

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UCLA's Rowe joins GA list

December, 29, 2011

UCLA has lost a second underclassmen to Major League Soccer, but it wasn't like it was unexpected. Kelyn Rowe, who looked seriously at turning pro following his freshman season a year ago, is the league's fifth Generation adidas signing.

Rowe, the Pacific 12 Conference's Player of the Year, joins All-American forward Chandler Hoffman in MLS's developmental program and could be a top-three selection in the Jan. 12 MLS SuperDraft.

Rowe, 20, an attacking midfielder from Federal Way, Wash., has extensive youth national team experience and is in the U.S. under-23 group preparing for Olympic qualifiers early next spring. He was a third-team All-American as a freshman and amassed 13 goals and 20 assists in two seasons in Westwood. He was the first attacker off the bench as the Bruins marched into the NCAA College Cup final four earlier this month.

“It’s every kid’s dream to be a professional soccer player, and I’m definitely in that boat,” Rowe told MLS's website. “It’s a dream come true, so it’s a little surreal right now, hasn’t quite hit me. I think it will once preseason starts.”

He said the opportunity to play against the Galaxy and Chivas USA during his time at UCLA offered a glimpse of what could be.

“We got a little taste what it’s like to play at the next level,” Rowe said. “But it’s going to be hard. It’s never easy. The pace of the game is that much faster, the physicality is there, you’re playing against guys who have been playing for years at that level.”

Rowe and Hoffman had been expected to sign GA pacts, which include funds to complete their degrees and opportunities, because of the program's roster rules, that aren't available to college seniors. GA players do not count against their clubs' roster sizes nor salary caps.

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No. 8: UCLA returns to College Cup

December, 25, 2011

Marvin Gentry/US Presswire
UCLA's Chandler Hoffman battles North Carolina's Enzo Martinez in the NCAA semifinals.

Counting down the 11 biggest 2011 stories in Southern California soccer ...

UCLA's soccer programs might be forgiven for thinking of NCAA College Cup appearances as some sort of birthright. The Bruins' programs have long been among the nation's best, with the men winning four national championships and the women making it to final four eight times in 10 years through 2009.

But the men hadn't been to championship weekend since 2006, when they were upset in the title game by UC Santa Barbara despite talent that begged for trophies. They were stopped one game short the past two seasons.

2011 was a return to normalcy, perhaps. With a startling amount of ability returning from last year's quarterfinalists and a refined scheme, emphasizing a beautiful possession game, directed by head coach Jorge Salcedo, the Bruins absorbed early lessons, built momentum en route to the Pacific 12 Conference title, then sprinted through the postseason, shutting out every foe, en route to the program's 13th College Cup appearance.

Chandler Hoffman, with a terrific support group led by returning All-American Kelyn Rowe, midfield general Andy Rose and a defense anchored by top goalkeeper Brian Rowe, was responsible for the goals, 18 in all, as the Bruins took an eight-game shutout streak to Birmingham, Ala., the junior striker's hometown.

The Bruins (18-4-2) got no further -- they conceded equalizers twice and lost on penalties following a 2-2 draw in the semifinals with North Carolina, which won the championship -- but laid groundwork for return trips. They expect to be back in 2012.

UCLA's men highlighted a outstanding fall for local college sides.

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COLLEGE: Our all-area teams

December, 25, 2011

UCLA's Chandler Hoffman scored goals by the bunches on a quest to go home. Nadia Link netted nearly as many to take Long Beach State to unprecedented heights. Christian Ramirez dazzled for Concordia. And Fabiola da Silva prodded Cal Baptist to a national championship.

Fabiola Da Silva
Rachel McDaniel/CBU SportsBrazilian midfielder Fabiola da Silva led Cal Baptist to the NCCAA national title.

They're ESPN Los Angeles College Players of the Year after superb fall campaigns on local fields.

We selected men's and women's teams, one for players from 10 local NCAA Division I institutions and another for players from 24 NCAA Divisions II and III, NAIA and unaffiliated schools.

Our coaches of the year in Division I are Junior Gonzalez, who led the remarkable turnaround by UC Riverside's men, and Tim Ward, whose Pepperdine women were a top-five team during the regular season. In the lower divisions, it's Ralph Perez, who took Redlands' men to 20 wins and NCAA Division III third-round berth, and Kristen St. Clair, who presided over a superb transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II, with the Pacific West Conference title and National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association Division I national crown.

The freshmen of the year: Cal State Northridge's Edwin Rivas and UCLA's Abby Dahlkemper in D1, Cal Baptist's Michael Salazar and Cal Lutheran's Taylor Will in D2/D3/NAIA.

Here are our inaugural postseason all-star teams:

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UCLA's Hoffman signs with MLS

December, 23, 2011
UCLA striker Chandler Hoffman has signed as expected with Major League Soccer's Generation adidas program.

Hoffman had a phenomental junior season, winning All-America honors after scoring 18 goals to lead UCLA to its first NCAA College Cup men's soccer final four in five years.

It had been assumed the forward from Birmingham, Ala., would sign with MLS, and he said following the Bruins' loss on penalty kicks to North Carolina in the NCAA semifinals that he planned to discuss his options “with my family the next few days, talk to the [UCLA] coaching staff and see what the opportunities are in MLS.”

UCLA sophomore Kelyn Rowe also is expected to sign a Generation adidas pact, which is offered to the best players retaining college eligibility. Players in the program do not count against MLS clubs' salary caps nor roster sizes and tend to dominate the initial selections in the first round of the SuperDraft.

“I’m thrilled to be included in the Generation adidas list,” Hoffman told the league's website. “When you just look at the players that have come through this program, it’s basically every big-name American player. To have that opportunity to come into MLS and be a professional athlete, which has been my goal, is a major accomplishment and something I’m very proud of.

“I also see it as a new beginning and a time to prove myself once again, because coming to UCLA from Alabama, a lot of people didn’t believe I could do it, and I’m sure that at the next level there are going to be people who think I can’t do it. So it’s just added motivation to me to prove myself, because I definitely do think I’m good enough to be a goalscorer at the highest level.”

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CHIVAS USA: Dieuze, Minda on the way?

December, 19, 2011

Chivas USA's roster could soon be bolstered by the additions of two more midfielders, Frenchman Nicolas Dieuze and Ecuadoran Oswaldo Minda.

Both have been in head coach Robin Fraser's sights for some time, and although the club has announced nothing on either of them, their signings are thought to be imminent if not completed.

Dieuze, 32, who has played alongside Chivas assistant coach Greg Vanney and midfielder Laurent Courtois, spent part of October on trial with the Goats, playing 45 minutes in an MLS Reserve League victory over Vancouver.

Chivas has been looking at Dieuze since his contract with second-tier French side Grenoble Foot 38 ended last spring, and his acquisition is expected to be completed soon, his representative told MLS-News, a French website that focuses on America's league.

Dieuze played with Courtois at Toulouse from 1999 to 2001 and was Vanney's teammate at Bastia from 2001 through 2003. He then returned to Toulouse for five years, spent a season with Le Havre and two at Grenoble.

“I think he's an excellent two-way midfielder,” Vanney said in October. “He's an interesting player. We're always looking to gain some experience. ... He was always one of the fitter players -- he's a guy who can cover ground. Extremely fit, hard-nosed, yet has technique. He's a leader, was a captain at Toulouse for a while and helped them into the [UEFA] Champions League.”

Minda earlier this month told Guayaquil daily El Universo he'd been offered a three-year contract by the Goats, and he says he's coming to Los Angeles. Saturday's title-series finale in Ecuador's Serie A was his final game for Deportivo Quito, where he's played since 2008.

“Dear God, this is so amazing,” Minda told reporters after Deportivo Quito toppled Emelec to claim its third national title in four years. “This club has given me so much. ... It's a shame I have to leave this institution that has given me everything and now gives me these tears. That has helped me and given me so much love.

“I came [to Quito] fulfilling a dream, and I'm reaching another.”

Fraser, who wasn't available for comment Monday, said earlier this month that Minda was “a talented, intense, focused player that we've identified that we have interest in.”

ELSEWHERE: In other MLS news ...

Columbus signed central defender Chad Marshall (Riverside/Rubidoux HS) to a contract extension that will keep him with the Crew through 2015. No terms were announced, but Marshall, 27, a two-time MLS Defender of the Year, made $250,000 last season.

Montreal signed Canadian international Patrice Bernier, 32, a Quebec native who played for the Impact in the second tier a decade ago. The defensive midfielder has been in Europe since 2003 and has been with Danish club Lyngby since August.

Philadelphia midfielder Amobi Okugo spent a week training with Freiburg and told soccer blog The USA 10 Kit that the German club told him they'd be in contact with his agents. Okugo, 20, left UCLA following his freshman season to sign a Generation adidas deal and was the No. 6 pick in the 2010 draft.

UC Santa Barbara junior Sam Garza has accepted a Generation adidas contract offer, the Soccer By Ives blog reports. UCLA's Kelyn Rowe and Chandler Hoffman also are considering GA deals, and Rowe, SBI says, has European options.

COLLEGE: Great not good enough for UCLA

December, 10, 2011

UCLA SoccerMarvin Gentry/US PresswireBruins players react after losing their NCAA Men's Division I semifinal soccer match to North Carolina.

UCLA had the talent, the game and the belief -- and was playing in star forward Chandler Hoffman's hometown -- and thought that would be enough to bring home a fifth NCAA men's soccer championship trophy.

So when the Bruins (18-4-2) looked for whatever pluses they might find after watching top-seeded North Carolina (20-2-3) overcome two deficits en route to a victory on penalty kicks in Friday night's College Cup semifinals, they focused on what they brought -- and what it meant in a sizzling encounter.

“It was probably a great soccer game to watch from a fan's perspective, and it was very emotional and a lot of ups and downs for us and for me as a coach,” UCLA boss Jorge Salcedo said after his team was outtallied, 3-1, in the shootout following a 2-2 draw. “That was two good teams out there. They had momentum, we had momentum. They had good players, we had good players.

“When I watched that first semifinal” -- Charlotte's penalty-kicks triumph over Creighton following, it should be noted, a rather poor game -- “I thought to myself, 'At least put on a performance that's worthy of a national semifinal.' And I felt like we did. ... It was a good game and a great advertisement for college soccer.”

That doesn't make it any easier to lose, especially when everything seemed to line up so perfectly. Salcedo had tweaked the way his Bruins play the game, installing a fluid, inspiring possession game. UCLA had senior leadership -- a rarity with so many top players leaving early for the pros -- and immense skill, especially among the juniors and sophomores. The previous eight opponents hadn't found the net, tying a school record.

The Bruins had never gone so long -- nine years -- between NCAA soccer titles.

“I thought from the spectators' point of view, tonight was obviously a great game. A lot of great players out there tonight,” assessed Hoffman, the Bruins' top scorer with 18 goals, who played in front of a large group of family and friends. “That does not [make losing easier] at all.”

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COLLEGE: Bruins beaten on PKs

December, 10, 2011

Chandler HoffmanMarvin Gentry/US PresswireUCLA forward Chandler Hoffman and North Carolina midfielder Enzo Martinez battle for the ball during Friday's game.

UCLA stood five minutes from a chance to play for another NCAA soccer championship. Turns out their destiny led somewhere else.

The Bruins on Friday night twice watched leads slip away in the second half, lost their homecoming hero to heavy cramps, then came up wanting at the finish, falling to top-seeded North Carolina on penalties following a 2-2 draw in a Division I men's semifinal in Hoover, Ala., outside Birmingham.

The third-ranked Tar Heels (20-2-3), making their fourth successive College Cup final-four appearance, advance to Sunday's title game against Charlotte (16-4-4), which beat No. 2 Creighton on penalties in the first semifinal.

It was a devastating end for fourth-ranked (but 13th-seeded) UCLA (18-4-2), which dominated stretches of the match with a possession game that wearied North Carolina, went ahead on superb goals by Ryan Hollingshead in the 17th minute and Kelyn Rowe in the 74th, then conceded a late equalizer to All-American Billy Schuler.

“It was so close tonight, it could have gone either way,” UCLA head coach Jorge Salcedo told ESPN Los Angeles after the game. “To win win a game, you need to have a little bit luck, a little bit skill. We had skill but no luck tonight.”

It was a marvelous encounter, full of incident, featuring great drama, massive momentum swings, great individual performances on both sides, some beautiful soccer -- especially by UCLA the latter part of the first half -- and four stunning goals.

All-American striker Chandler Hoffman, a Birmingham boy playing before family and friends, assisted both UCLA strikes but wasn't in position to score himself, thanks to expert work by North Carolina All-American Matt Hedges.

His departure with a hamstring injury in overtime -- “I was cramping like I've never cramped before,” he reported -- deprived the Bruins of their best finisher in the closing minutes and in the penalty-kick shootout, when they really missed him.

North Carolina won the tiebreaker, 3-1, with three of the Bruins' four shots taken poorly. Andy Rose and Rowe didn't get the ball close enough to the posts on the first two rounds, leaving simple stops for goalkeeper Scott Goodwin. Victor Munoz went up the middle to score on the third round, but Fernando Monge fired well wide left with the fourth shot, and Ben Speas -- an NCAA champion last year at Akron -- followed with the decisive kick.

“Unfortunately, when you miss the first one, it doesn't set a good tone,” Salcedo said. “But we didn't lose because we took poor penalty kicks. It's not one player, not one call, not one penalty kick in soccer that decides whether you win or lose. It's just the overall game.”

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COLLEGE: 11 locals are All-Americans

December, 9, 2011

UC Irvine's Miguel Ibarra and UC Santa Barbara's Luis Silva, two of the nation's finest collegiate midfielders, were honored Friday as first-team Division I All-Americans by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

UCLA's Sydney Leroux was a first-team women's selection as 11 local players received All-America acclaim and 39 collected all-region honors.

Stanford's Camille Levin, from Newport Coast (Tarbut V'Torah Community Day School), also was a first-team women's choice

Ibarra (Lancaster/Lancaster HS), a junior, led Big West champion UCI with nine goals along with eight assists. Silva (Los Angeles/Salesian HS) scored 17 goals with 10 assists for the Gauchos.

UCLA goalkeeper Brian Rowe and Connecticut midfielder Carlos Alvarez (Los Angeles/Salsian HS) were second-team selections, and UCLA forward Chandler Hoffman and Cal State Bakersfield forward Gyasi Zardes (Hawthorne/Leuzinger HS) were chosen for the third-team.

Ibarra, Silva and Rowe have been invited to Major League Soccer's predraft combine next month in Florida.

UC Irvine defender CoCo Goodson and Pepperdine defender Michelle Pao are second-team women's selections, and UCLA freshman defender Abby Dahlkemper is a third-teamer.

Below are lists of local players selected to All-America and all-region teams:

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COLLEGE: Final-four rundown

December, 9, 2011

The NCAA College Cup kicks off Friday afternoon in Hoover, Ala., with No. 2 Creighton taking on surprise semifinalist Creighton in the 3 p.m. PST opener. No. 4 UCLA meets No. 3 North Carolina in the second game, at 5:30 p.m.

The title game is Sunday at 1 p.m. All three games will be shown live on ESPNU.

Here's a quick rundown on the final four:

  • UCLA (18-4-1)

The Bruins lost in the quarterfinals the past two years, but a shift to a pure possession attack -- with style as or more important than results -- has taken UCLA to a different level. Junior forward Chandler Hoffman gets to finish a spectacular campaign, in which he's netted 18 goals to head a dynamic attack, at home: He's from Birmingham.

Pacific 12 MVP Kelyn Rowe adds attacking dimensions off the bench and Englishman Andy Rose provides a midfield foundation around which the Bruins revolve. And they might be at their strongest at the back, where goalkeeper Brian Rowe has posted eight straight shutouts -- keeping his sheet clean for 747 minutes, 40 seconds.

  • NORTH CAROLINA (20-2-2)

The Tar Heels reached the title game three years ago and lost in the semifinals the past two years, and now first-year coach Carlos Samoano -- promoted when Elmar Bolowich moved to Creighton -- looks to take them to a second title 11 years after the first. They bring in a nine-game winning streak, with six of the victories, including the last two, by shutout.

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