#21 California Men's Soccer 2014 Preview

California Golden Bears

Overall Rank: #21
#4 Pac-12
#21 California Men's Soccer 2014 Preview
California Team Page


California had a breakout season in 2013. They earned the #4 seed in NCAA Tournament and made it to the Elite Eight where they fell 2-1 to Maryland. Now the Golden Bears and Coach Kevin Grimes will want to keep Cal at an elite level. With some massive losses, this team will look different, but they have the talent to not just make the NCAA Tournament again, but compete for a Pac-12 title and hope for another Elite Eight run or beyond.

2013 Record: 14-5-2, 6-3-1
2013 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Kevin Grimes

Returning Leaders:
Goals: Stefano Bonomo, Senior, F, 6
Assists: Seth Casiple, Senior, M, 7
Shots: Stefano Bonomo, Senior, F, 34
Saves: Justin Taillole, Senior, GK, 48

Other Key Returnees: F/M Christian Thierjung, M Omid Jalali, M Connor Hallisey, M Max Oldham, D/M Mason Case, D Dylan Serrano

Key Losses: F Luis Fuentes, M Alec Sundly, D Christian Dean, D/M Ryan Neil, D Steve Birnhaum

Defender Steve Birnbaum and midfielder Alec Sundly accounted for half of Cal’s 38 goals in 2013. Replacing those 19 goals is not going to be easy, but Cal has goal scoring options. Senior striker Stefano Bonomo netted six goals and will be the team’s goal scoring threat. Senior midfielder Seth Casiple will be the top playmaker and he should set up Bonomo quite well. Former role players like Omid Jalali and Christian Thierjung will be asked to play a much bigger part in the offense now. Incoming freshmen Paul Salcedo and Aravind Sivakumar are options as well and should at least be able to step into roles off of the bench. Overall, the offense is going to look quite different, but this should be one of the top three or four scoring offenses in the Pac-12.

The defense is where the biggest concern lies. Not having Birnbaum and Christian Dean, who opted to leave school early for the professional ranks, on the back line is huge. They are virtually impossible to replace. Add defensive midfielder Ryan Neil to the list of departures and the Cal defense could take a huge step backwards. Coach Grimes will have to rely on Mason Case and Dylan Serrano to lead the way. Keepers Justin Taillole and Alex Mangels are both back. Taillole started most of the year, but it was Mangels between the posts during the NCAA Tournament.  

Final Projection:
Following their season opening trip out east to face North Carolina and Wake Forest, the Golden Bears will have some time to work out the kinks on both ends of the pitch before Pac-12 play begins. During those games, Cal should be able to settle into the season and start building their tournament resume. The Pac-12 is going to be tough too with UCLA, Washington and Stanford all sporting quality teams.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Tournament

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 1.81 (26th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Goals-Against Average: 0.97 (52, 2)
Shutout Percentage: 0.33 (64, 3)
Save Percentage:  0.764 (96, 4)

Madness 2015 MLS Draft Rankings:
#30 Stefano Bonomo
#36 Seth Casiple

Madness 2014 Men’s Soccer Recruit Rankings:
#46 Jorge Miranda


See All College Sports Madness Top 44 Men's Soccer Previews