NCAA College Cup Semifinals: A look ahead

NCAA College Cup Semifinals: A look ahead

College Soccer

NCAA College Cup Semifinals: A look ahead

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CollegeSoccer

Whether you're a fan of dangerous attacking teams, or simply want to catch a glimpse of some future MLS standouts, this weekend's NCAA College Cup in Cary, North Carolina has something for you.

All four teams boast quality rosters so there isn't much talk about underdogs and Cinderella stories. Unbeaten Akron comes into the tournament as the favorite despite being the only team that won't feel at home in ACC Country. If there is an underdog, that label probably goes to North Carolina, which has been one of the highest ranked teams in American for much of the season.

The othe two participants, Wake Forest and Virginia, each boasts a roster full of potential future pros, with as many as three potential Top Five picks in next month's MLS Draft expected to be on display when the team's square off on Friday (5pm, ESPN2).

Here is a brief look at both of tonight's match-ups:

VIRGINIA vs. WAKE FOREST

(5pm, ESPN2)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: VIRGINIA- Tony Tchani, Diego Restrepo, Will Bates, Jonathan Villanueva. WAKE FOREST- Ike Opara, Corben Bone, Austin Da Luz, Zach Schilawski, Andy Lubahn.

OUTLOOK: These teams played to a scoreless draw in the ACC Tournament semifinals before UVA won on penalty kicks. UVA's defense has been flawless in recent months, but Wake Forest has the attacking weapons to crack the Cavalier defense. UVA goalkeeper is a quality shot-stopper so Wake's attackers will need to be much more precise with their finishing.

Among the better battles will be Tchani vs. Wake's midfield. Tchani is a game-changer who will burn you if you give him space and he will create chances if Wake loses its defensive discipline. With Opara likely to shut down Bates, Tchani and Villanueva will need to test the Demon Deacons back-line.

For wake, the key is getting the ball to Bone and Da Luz early and often in order to unlock that loaded five-man UVA midfield. Virginia stays disciplined defensively, so Wake's playmakers must be precise if they are going to create chances for Schilawski and Lubahn.

Virginia defeated Wake Forest twice this year, but we don't see the third time being the charm for the Cavs. Wake's attack should find its rhythm and Bone and Schilawski will lead the way as the Demon Deacons unlock the normally stingy UVA defense. Wake Forest 2, Virginia 0.

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AKRON vs. NORTH CAROLINA

(7:30pm, ESPNU)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: AKRON- Teal Bunbury, Darlington Nagbe, Blair Gavin, Anthony Ampaipitakwong, Kofi Sarkodie. UNC- Michael Farfan, Billy Schuler, Kirk Urso, Zach Lloyd.

OUTLOOK: Akron loves to attack with speed and the Zips attack is engineered by the creative Gavin, who won't have an easy time working around the UNC defensive midfield tandem of Kirk Urso and Dustin McCarty. The real question is whether the UNC back-line can cope with the talented forward tandem of Bunbury and Nagbe. closing down Gavin and dealing with Ampaipitakwong's pace on the wing will be key to cutting down service, but you also have the overlapping runs of Sarkodie to contend with.

When UNC has the ball, the Tar Heels will look to feed playmaker Farfan, who makes things go in the attack. Schuler has the speed to burn Akron on the counter, but Akron's defenders aren't exactly slow.

We give the edge to Akron, with Gavin shaking free to set up some quality chances for Bunbury and Nagbe. Akron 2, UNC 1.

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What do you see happening in tonight's semifinals? Think Akron will stay undefeated? Will Wake Forest finally figure out the Cavalier defense?

Share your thoughts below.

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