The University of Akron men’s soccer team has a big weekend at Lee Jackson Field with games Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
The Zips, ranked No. 1 in the country according to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA/adidas), Soccer America, Top Drawer Soccer and the Soccer Times will host the annual University of Akron Tournament.
UA plays Indiana University (2-1-1) Friday and St. Louis University (2-2-0) Sunday. The Hoosiers are No. 8 in the NSCAA/adidas poll and No. 10 in the Soccer America poll. A sellout is expected for the UA/IU matchup.
The UA/IU matchup is also exciting because fourth-year Akron Zips head coach Caleb Porter was a four-year letterwinner and a three-time captain at Indiana from 1994-97. He then played briefly in the MLS and was an assistant coach at Indiana, helping the Hoosiers win national championships in 2003 and 2004.
Here are some comments from a conversation with Caleb Porter:
On the expected sellout crowd for Friday night’s UA/IU game: “I think it says a lot about this area and how important soccer is in this community. You have two of the best teams in the country and from what I understand people are going to come out and enjoy a soccer match. Akron can have a team in contention for a national championship. Anybody that is a sports fan should be at this game. You will have two of the best teams in the country going toe-to-toe for 90 minutes. May the best team win.”
On the UA campus, which includes the new InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field for the Zips football team: “There is a buzz around the school. It is a great time to be a Zip. Whether it’s soccer, football, basketball, track, cross country, etc., it’s fun time at Akron. It should be a great weekend. We hope to kick this things off right. This is an important game and we want to be successful. We want to perform well in front of our fans.”
On playing perennial soccer power Indiana: “You can't get caught up on the history. You need to focus on the reality, you are playing the current Indiana team. Having said that, the margin for error in these types of games is very slim. It will come down to who makes plays and who performs. Our players are extremely excited, ready and confident. We are focused on winning this game.”
Thoughts on coaching at Akron and coaching against his alma mater Indiana: “This is my job. This is my livelihood. This is what I do for a living. If you get caught up on the nostalgia, you could lose your bearings. This is my team, my players, and I love them. I will always appreciate what IU did for me as a player, a coach, and as a person. I would not be where I am without IU, but I am with Akron now and I am proud of. and I am excited about what we are building. I will always appreciate and have respect for my roots and what they have done for me.”
- The Zips have a 4-0 record with wins over Southern Methodist University, Tulsa, High Point and Cincinnati. UA holds an advantage over their opponents in goals (9-1), shots (63-17), shots on goal (33-7) and corner kicks (22-11).
- Freshman Yoram Mwila leads the Zips offense with two goals and sophomore Teal Bunbury has a goal and two assists. UA has five other players – juniors Blair Gavin, Anthony Ampaipitakwong and sophomores Kofi Sarkodie, Michael Nanchoff and Darlington Nagbe – with one goal apiece. Gavin also has an assist.
- Freshman Ben Speas and junior Chris Korb have each contributed two assists, and senior Ben Zemanski has been solid.
- Freshman David Meves has recorded three shutouts with the assistance of starting defenders: Korb, Sarkodie and freshmen Zarek Valentin and Chad Barson. Meves has 6 saves and allowed just one goal.
- The Zips are 41-2-4 at Lee Jackson Field since 2005 and 11-0-1 in the past 12 home games. Friday’s expected sellout crowd could possibly exceed the largest crowd at Lee Jackson Field. The record is 2,319 fans at the Akron/Ohio State game on Sept. 30, 2005. The Zips defeated the Buckeyes 3-0 that night.
- UA is 4-24-2 all-time against IU and 1-10-0 all-time hosting IU. The Zips are 67-58-10 all-time against teams from the Big Ten Conference.
- UA is 1-7-0 all-time against SLU. The Zips are 23-11-1 all-time against teams from the Atlantic 10 Conference.
- UA sophomore defender Kofi Sarkodie and IU senior defender Ofori Sarkodie are brothers and will square off on the pitch. They met last season when the Zips and Hoosiers played to a scoreless tie in Bloomington, Ind. Their oldest brother, Kwame Sarkodie, played soccer at the University of Cincinnati.
- The Zips are 33-0-0 after holding a lead at halftime since 2006.
- UA is 11-10-6 all-time against opponents ranked in the NSCAA/adidas top 25 poll and 6-2-1 at Lee Jackson Field.
- A special thanks goes out to UA media contact Paul Warner for some of the additional notes that are available on gozips.com.