Bulls play Russian roulette

The Bulls are fighting for their soccer lives against UCF tonight.

“I’m never going to be happy with .500,” USF men’s soccer coach George Kiefer said. “They have a bit of a gun to their heads, and we’ll see who can perform and who can’t perform with the gun to their head.”

Yet, that’s where the Bulls (6-3, 2-2 in Conference USA) find themselves after sustaining back-to-back shutout losses on the road in C-USA play.

Charlotte handed USF its first conference defeat Sept. 29 when the Bulls traveled to the Queen City and outshot the 49ers 12-9, but returned strapped with a 1-0 loss.

Saturday, Cincinnati dealt USF a harsh blow, as the Bearcats struck for two goals in 89 seconds on their home turf to hand the Bulls a 2-0 setback.

For Kiefer and the Bulls, the only consolation is a quick chance for redemption against UCF in Orlando tonight.

“I agree, long layoffs after a loss are never good,” Kiefer said. “It’s tough enough to bounce back.”

The biggest area in need of a shot of adrenaline is the USF attack. The Bulls could muster just one shot on the Bearcats.

Further hampering the Bulls’ offense has been the absence of midfielder Jeff Thwaites, who has been sidelined with tendonitis in his right foot.

“I think it’s a bunch of things,” Kiefer said. “I think Hunter (West)’s frustrated. He’s putting too much pressure on himself to score goals. He has to relax and let the goals come to him. Not having Jeff doesn’t help either.”

West registered four shots against Charlotte, but he, like the Bulls, have been shut out since a 4-2 victory Sept. 22 against Florida Atlantic. West scored nine goals in USF’s first seven matches.

Kiefer pushed the Bulls hard in practice Monday to improve the squad’s transition from defense to offense.

“I manipulated the session so that the second team spent a lot of time attacking the first team,” Kiefer said. “The emphasis was to counterattack and create opportunities.

“The guys are not doing a great job winning 50-50 balls and getting in transition. It doesn’t always take 15 passes to score a goal.”