USD beats SDSU in bizarre soccer exhibition – The San Diego Union-Tribune

The USD men’s soccer team kicked off against host SDSU on Thursday night. No. 18 got the ball on the right side and lofted a pass to No. 11, who was whistled for offside.

No. 11 is Torrey DeArmas, a 5-foot-8 senior who was an all-conference selection last season after scoring a team-high seven goals. Or was it? The roster distributed to fans said so, but No. 11 looked an awful lot like 6-foot Swedish freshman Gustav Brandt.

It’s the latest in the farcical degradation of a proud, fierce rivalry between crosstown Division I soccer programs. They played an exhibition game that started 45 minutes late, doesn’t count on either team’s record and featured one team wearing wrong jersey numbers. USD won 1-0 on a 61st minute goal by, well, we’re not sure who scored it.

The coaches keep saying in one breath how great the game is “for the community” and in the next how hard it is to schedule. They’ve played games that counted only four times in the past decade and once since 2011.

After compelling his men’s basketball team to extend its annual series against USD when there were reasonable arguments against, SDSU athletic director Jim Sterk talked last spring about the importance of playing USD every year, in every sport, including football for the first time since 1961. USD athletic director Ky Snyder has echoed those sentiments. They just haven’t shared them, apparently, with their men’s soccer coaches (although both insist they’ll play a regular-season game in 2016).

This is the second straight season they’ve played an exhibition, and the public isn’t fooled. Last year at Torero Stadium drew 899. This year: 378 at the SDSU Sports Deck.

The last “real” game was 2013, when an electric SRO crowd of 1,874 jammed onto the Sports Deck to see SDSU win 5-0. Students hurled red smoke bombs on the field after Aztecs goals, and the referee announced he would “terminate” the game if they didn’t stop.

They played at Torero Stadium in 2010 and 2011. Both games were decided on goals in the closing minutes, and both drew what then were record crowds for a college soccer match in San Diego – 2,967 and 3,143.

Thursday’s date was finalized just last month, and there was talk earlier in the week that USD wouldn’t wear jerseys with numbers. The Toreros open the regular season Aug. 28 against 16th-ranked Cal, and the concern was the Bears would get a free scouting report because SDSU, which plays men’s soccer in the Pac-12, is required to share all game video with fellow conference members.

USD ultimately wore numbered jerseys … just ones that didn’t match its roster. Starting lineups weren’t introduced, and only SDSU subs were announced.

“Cal gets to scout us, we don’t get to scout them,” USD coach Seamus McFadden said, explaining the number swaps. “It is what it is.”

The Aztecs wore their regular numbers but substituted so frequently that it was sometimes difficult to keep track who was on the field.

“Exhibition games are not to get a victory,” said SDSU coach Lev Kirshner, who has 13 new players. “It’s to learn about my team. We played just about everybody on our roster, because I needed to see them.”

Watching from the stands Thursday was SDSU women’s coach Mike Friesen, whose team opens the regular season here Friday night at 7 against Utah Valley. They’ll play USD at the Sports Deck on Sept. 17.

It is the third straight year the crosstown rivals will play a regular-season game in women’s soccer after a seven-year hiatus (not counting the 2009 meeting in the NCAA Tournament in Los Angeles). Friesen and USD coach Ada Greenwood also blamed “scheduling conflicts” but have since solidified their relationship to the point that they plan to play twice in 2016 – once on each campus.

There’s talk of making it an aggregate-goals series, like in European soccer, and awarding a trophy.

“It’s a good RPI game, it saves money in travel and it’s good for fans,” Friesen said. “It’s been a really good rivalry, back and forth, winning on each other’s field. We felt it was a good enough game to play twice.”

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