The last time the University of Connecticut men’s soccer team played away from Morrone Stadium was Sept. 2, losing 0-1 to current nationally-ranked No. 2 Indiana. On Friday night, the Huskies take on conference foe Memphis in just their second true road game of the season.
Memphis (5-2-2, 1-0 The American) has been a major surprise so far this season. Picked to finish last in the American Athletic Conference preseason poll, the Tigers have accumulated the second-best winning percentage in the conference, and currently sit atop the American standings with three points in conference play.
“We’ll be ready,” UConn head coach Ray Reid said after last Saturday’s draw with USF. “These guys have great character and are real workers. The two road games we’ve played were two of the top five teams in the country, so hopefully that’ll prepare us for the games coming up.”
After a three-game homestand, the Huskies (4-2-1, 0-0-1 The American) now embark on a quick road trip, with Memphis on Friday and Providence on Tuesday.
The Tigers are fresh off a 1-0 win over Cincinnati in their conference opener. Redshirt freshman Edgar Alaniz scored the game-winner, the first goal of his collegiate career. Redshirt sophomore Peyton McKnatt is the team’s co-leader in goals scored with three, and the leader in assists (2) and shots (22).
However, most of Memphis’ early success has come from the defensive end of the ball. Goalkeeper Tyler Hofmann has been fantastic and tops in the conference in save percentage (.833) with 25 saves on the season and three shutouts. The Tigers have blanked their opponents four times this season, also best in the American.
The Huskies present the most difficult test for the Tigers yet so far, as Memphis is one of the few teams in the conference to have not yet played a ranked opponent. UConn has proven it can win at home (4-0-1 at Morrone), but is still seeking its first road win.
The Huskies’ offense has predicated on the elite attacking duo of Abdou Mbacke Thiam and Dayonn Harris. Of Thiam’s team-leading six goals, four have come on a Harris assist. Harris, a redshirt junior, also cashed in on his first career goal in UConn’s previous game.
In their last three meetings between the teams, Memphis has swept the Huskies. UConn will look to end that streak and pick up their first conference win of the season on Friday at 7 p.m.