Los Angeles Soccer: Eddie Soto
UCLA lost an assistant coach Friday when Kenny Arena, the son of Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, was hired as Florida International University's men's soccer head coach.
Arena, 31, also was coaching in the Galaxy's youth academy and guided its under-16 team to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-15/16 national championship last summer.
The former defender starred at the University of Virginia and played in Major League Soccer for the MetroStars (now the New York Red Bulls) and D.C. United. He was part of former Galaxy midfielder Jorge Salcedo's staff at UCLA the past four years, helping the Bruins to three conference titles and a NCAA College Cup final four berth last fall. He previously was on staffs at Virginia and George Mason.
Arena replaces Munga Eketebi, who was 27-51-9 in five seasons as Miami-based FIU's head coach. The Golden Panthers were 5-8-2 last year.
Salcedo, a former UCLA standout, and assistant coach Eddie Soto, a former MLS forward who starred at Cal State Fullerton, were childhood friends and teammates from Cerritos. Soto is head coach of the Galaxy Academy's U-18 team.
LOS ANGELES -- Chandler Hoffman was heading home to Birmingham, and he was bringing a couple dozen of his best college buddies with him.
They hope to return to L.A. with an NCAA trophy.
Hoffman, a sure-to-be All-American striker, leads UCLA into this weekend's College Cup men's soccer final four in Hoover, Ala., where the Bruins figure to be a fan favorite, with all of his family and friends filling seats.
“Man, my phone has been blowing up. Facebook has been blowing up,” Hoffman said as the Bruins prepared for Friday night's semifinal showdown with top-seeded North Carolina. “Everyone's excited to come out. It should be like a home game for UCLA.”
This is what Hoffman has envisioned since word arrived earlier this year that the College Cup would be played in Birmingham's suburbs. Now that it's here -- and the Bruins are there -- he can barely contain his excitement.
“I'm so waiting for someone to pinch me and wake up,” he said. “It just feels like a dream.”
That dream comes true if UCLA (18-4-1) overcomes the Tar Heels (20-2-2), then knocks off second-seeded Creighton (21-2-0) or Charlotte (16-4-3) in Sunday's final. It would be the fifth NCAA men's soccer title in school history, and it would fulfill Jorge Salcedo's dream, too.
The Bruins' head coach has been part of three UCLA titles -- as a ballboy in 1985, a freshman midfielder in 1990 and an assistant coach in 2002 -- and came close to winning another in his third season in charge of the program.
“It would mean so much,” said Salcedo, who played for four Major League Soccer clubs, including the Galaxy, and Morelia in Mexico. “I quietly always hope that it's going to happen, and now, once again, we have another chance. The loss [to UC Santa Barbara in the final] in 2006 left a bitter taste in my mouth, because we were a good team back then, I think ready to win a championship. But I think we're even more ready now as a program to win one.”
The Bruins have ample talent, extraordinary depth -- especially in attack -- and solid upperclass leadership, and there's that destiny thing at work, too. At least Hoffman believes so.