The last time USF and Louisville?s men?s soccer teams met, everything was on the line for the Bulls. Needing a win to keep their postseason hopes alive, the Bulls beat the Cardinals 2-1 in an enthralling, double-overtime contest at the USF Soccer Stadium Oct. 28, 2000.
The No. 11 Bulls and Cardinals meet again Saturday night at Louisville in what will be the second Conference USA match for both teams this year. With 42 fouls committed in last season?s match, USF coach John Hackworth said he knows what to expect Saturday.
“Same thing. It will be World War II,” Hackworth said. “It?s two very good teams both that (have) raised their game ? and what is on the line for these conference games is so important.”
The Cardinals posted a school-record 10 shutouts last year, and returned two All C-USA players ? goalkeeper Jeremy Morales (third team) and defender Adrian Cann (first team), also a member of the Under-23 Canadian national team. Offensively, the Cardinals are led by Simon Bird (three goals, one assist) and Courtenay Commander (two goals).
“They play very physical soccer. They?re a hard team but we have to raise our level to do the same thing and play good soccer because they will too,” Hackworth said.
However, the Bulls (7-0, 1-0 in C-USA) have momentum in their favor, as they continued their unbeaten streak Tuesday with a 2-1 double-overtime win against Florida Atlantic. USF has attained its highest-ever ranking in a national poll, No. 8 in the Soccer America poll, and commands the No. 11 spot in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and Collegesoccer.com polls.
On the other hand, the Cardinals have a record of 2-3-2, 0-0-1 in C-USA, although in their last match they posted a 1-0 win against Kentucky, which was ranked No. 25 in the Collegesoccer.com poll. Hackworth said the Cardinals? mediocre record does not reflect their skill level.
“You can?t look at those kind of results and say that they?re not good. Last time I did that, I went to Louisville and lost 4-0 (in 1999),” he said.
To prove his point, Hackworth related a conversation he had with Indiana coach Jerry Yeagley. No. 6 Indiana defeated the Cardinals Sept. 20, but Yeagley said Louisville should have been ahead by at least three goals within the first 25 minutes.
“For Jerry Yeagley ? he?s won five national championships ? to say that he literally should have lost that game is surprising,” Hackworth said.
Hackworth added that apart from some minor bumps and bruises, the Bulls are healthy going into Louisville.
Forward Jason Cudjoe, team leader with six goals and scorer of the winning goal vs. FAU, was given an extra day of recovery and did not practice Thursday.
Khari Williams covers men?s soccer and can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org