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Extra Innings: Forget football, soccer plays Friday

first_imgConsidering the hot mess that is the USC football program, Trojan fans are forgetting to pay attention to arguably the most important fall sport: the women’s soccer team who will take on UCLA Friday at StubHub Center. Before I make my case for why fans should invest their weekends in the soccer team, I will acknowledge that USC is a football school and that a significant amount of Trojan fans will not care about any sport that isn’t played on the gridiron. But I urge those people to watch just one women’s soccer game, particularly Friday’s game.Last year, I covered the women’s soccer beat for the Daily Trojan. Going into the season, I had never watched a collegiate soccer match, and I probably wouldn’t have if I didn’t cover the team. Like most Americans, soccer was never a big part of my life; I played for a couple years when I was little and I watch the World Cup and the Olympics, but aside from that, I didn’t really pay attention to soccer. I never appreciated the sport like I did baseball or hockey, but USC women’s soccer changed that for me. The sheer excitement this team brings to the table is enough to make the most casual viewer sit on the edge of their seat. The games are 90 minutes of fast-paced, action-packed competition. Moreover, the individual players on this team are fun. The women on the soccer team may be the most human athletes I’ve come across. Before games, they laugh and dance on the field; and between games, they tear up social media hyping each other up. You can’t teach enthusiasm, charisma or camaraderie, but you can leave room for it to grow naturally. If you’re frustrated with the coaching situation on the football team, I urge you to find relief with the soccer team. Head coach Keidane McAlpine is one of the best collegiate soccer coaches in the nation. He was able to turn a struggling USC team around with the snap of his fingers. In the last two seasons the Women of Troy have finished with .800 winning percentages and are on track to surpass that mark this year — they sit at .889 with one game remaining. Friday’s game against UCLA means the world to USC. The matchup is the final game for both teams’ regular season campaigns. When the two teams met at Drake Stadium last year, they duked it out in front of a record-breaking crowd of 11,925 people. Fans were treated to free soccer when the Los Angeles foes couldn’t settle the game in regulation. USC fell short in the golden goal overtime just minutes before it would have ended in a draw, but the loss took its toll on the Trojans.Following the UCLA game, the Women of Troy entered the 64-team tournament as the third seed in their division. The team didn’t look as peppy as it had looked for the majority of the season. In retrospect, USC lost its momentum as a result of closing the season with back-to-back losses to Stanford and UCLA. From a record standpoint, this game means almost nothing. USC has a bid to the tournament and a loss to UCLA will not change that. But from a mentality, momentum and pride standpoint, this game means everything for the Trojans to close out their season.If all of that didn’t convince you to watch the game, consider the fact that the game will be played at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. It seems like a massive venue for a collegiate soccer game, but I guarantee the stadium will not look as empty as the USC-ASU football game last weekend at the Coliseum.If you are a USC fan frustrated with the abysmal performance of head coach Clay Helton and co., spend your Friday night at StubHub Center watching two soccer powerhouses go head-to-head in a game that should be nothing less than a thriller.Sam Arslanian is a sophomore majoring in journalism. He is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Extra Innings,” runs Fridays.last_img

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