Nov. 27, 2011
Twenty-one years after UCLA defeated Rutgers to win its second NCAA Men's Soccer Championship, the Bruins and Scarlet Knights meet again, this time in the NCAA third round on Sunday at 5 pm at Drake Stadium.
Jorge Salcedo was a central figure in that first matchup in 1990, scoring the winning penalty kick to give the Bruins the championship. He'll be a central figure once again this year as UCLA's head coach. The 2011 Pac-12 Coach of the Year has the 13th-seeded Bruins needing to beat Rutgers to obtain their third-straight quarterfinal appearance.
It remains to be seen whether the 2011 Bruins and Scarlet Knights will have the same star power as the 1990 teams did, but after taking a look at those 1990 rosters, one would be hard-pressed to find any collegiate game with that many big names on one field. On UCLA's side were current and future World Cup players Brad Friedel, Cobi Jones, Chris Henderson, Joe-Max Moore and Mike Lapper, not to mention future Major League Soccer players in Salcedo, Sam George, Zak Ibsen, Tayt Ianni, and Sean Henderson. Rutgers' roster featured, among others, future U.S. star and World Cup player Alexi Lalas and future MLS players Jeff Zaun and Steve Rammel.
Reflecting on the 1990 Championship, Lalas' main recollection of the game is the amount of talent on the field at the time.
"When you go through (the rosters), it was pretty incredible," Lalas said. "It didn't work out for Rutgers in the end, but I think ultimately when you have a championship game, you want two of the best teams in the country, and I think without a doubt, Rutgers and UCLA that year were two of the best teams in the country."
Sigi Schmid, UCLA's head coach in 1990, echoed Lalas' statement. "It was a pretty remarkable team," he said of the Bruins. "What was remarkable about it was that Billy Thompson was one of the only seniors. Friedel was a redshirt freshman, and a lot of the other guys were freshmen and sophomores, some of our key players. But then you look at the subsequent careers those guys have had. What Friedel has done for himself in EPL is tremendous. The amount of international appearances that Cobi Jones made, the World Cups he played in. Chris Henderson being the youngest player on the World Cup team in 1990, just before us winning the championship. All those are pretty remarkable feats."
One of the baby Bruins was Salcedo, then a freshman starter in the midfield. After a thrilling 150 minutes of scoreless soccer, through regulation and four overtimes, the championship came down to penalty kicks. Salcedo was chosen by Schmid as the fifth penalty kick taker.
The Bruins had gone to penalty kicks in the semifinals against North Carolina State, outshooting the Wolfpack, 5-3. Salcedo did not take a kick in that contest but was given the call in the Championship. Little did he or Schmid know that his would be the deciding kick.
"I couldn't believe that Sigi chose me to take the fifth penalty kick," recalled Salcedo. "I didn't take a penalty kick in the semifinal, and I had my jersey off and my sweatsuit on, and I was ready to cheer on the other guys. When he called my name, I knew he had confidence in me, and that's why he chose me. (It) made me feel like if my number was going to come up as the fifth penalty kick taker, that I would find a way to score."
Schmid recounted the conversation he had with an admittedly nervous Salcedo prior to the shootout. "'Don't worry, just step up. It'll probably be over by the time it gets to you.' That's exactly what I said to him," Schmid said. "Obviously, it wasn't, and he took his penalty very well."
"Being able to participate in that game was just an incredible experience," Salcedo said. "And the fact that we won the game, and I was fortunate enough to take the game-winning penalty kick as a freshman, was an indelible moment for me."
With Rutgers coming to UCLA for Sunday's third round game, the two teams' first matchup in the NCAA Tournament since 1990, it has given Salcedo and his teammates an opportunity to relive the memories.
"I've received text messages and different messages from guys like Dan Beaney who are excited that we get to relive that moment and play Rutgers again so many years after winning that championship in 1990," Salcedo shared. "We're excited as a program to host Rutgers, and we look forward to having them here on Sunday night. Obviously it's a special moment for all the players and everyone who was a part of our program in 1990."