By Skyler Bell
Over the next five days the BYU men”s soccer team will play two of its most anticipated games since joining the Premiere Development League in 2002.
The Cougars face the Boulder Rapids Reserve and I-15 rival Utah Blitzz on Saturday, July 10, and Tuesday, July 13, respectively. Both games will be at 7:30 p.m. at South Field.
Boulder is a player development team for the Colorado Rapids, one of the eminent clubs in Major League Soccer, America”s highest level of professional play. Coach Chris Watkins calls them the best team his squad will see all year.
“People should come,” Watkins said. “It”s worth admission just to come watch some of these guys play. I think we”re worth the admission, but certainly they”re a very quality team. These are guys they”ll be paying money to see in the MLS in years to come.”
Despite the 3-0 away loss suffered at the feet of the Rapids earlier this season, the Cougars feel confident leading into the game. They have lost only one of their last five matches, an unprecedented mark for BYU at the professional level.
“We were working hard this week,” junior Devin Matsumori said. “We feel confident. We feel real confident. We feel like we can play with any team in the league right now.”
Coming off a “golden goal” performance, scoring the winning goal against Yakima on Saturday, BYU scoring leader Matt Affleck expressed similar thoughts, saying that the team”s confidence level is high going into the difficult weekend.
Tuesday”s face-off with the Pro Soccer League”s Blitzz will be the Cougars” second this season. BYU battled with Utah less than a month ago in Salt Lake. Before the game Watkins said that if the Blitzz were in the same league as the Cougars, Utah would be in last place. Utah took the statement as a personal challenge from Watkins, a former Blitzz player, pinning the quote to the walls of the locker room. It worked, as Utah sent the Cougars home with a 2-0 defeat. The White and Blue will be seeking revenge with their rival in their final home game of the year.
The Cougars own a 6-7-1 overall record, but have earned a reputation as a tough team to play in Provo. BYU has won five of its seven home contests by a cumulative score of 19-8.