In the American Athletic Conference, a sneak preview of the UConn men’s soccer home schedule probably wouldn't be worthy of an article. But when the home schedule pops up on the page to buy group tickets and the names “Villanova” and “St. Johns” are the first thing one sees, it just hit different. UConn is back where it belongs in the Big East.
Here’s an attachment of UConn’s home schedule for 2020 from a group ticket sales advertisement:
In addition to the beauty of rivalries renewed, there are other notable standouts in the home schedule. St. John’s is fresh off a Sweet 16 appearance. There are non-conference tilts against Syracuse, Notre Dame, Rhode Island, and Rutgers. The first three were also NCAA tournament teams in 2019, and the latter is helmed by Connecticut legend Jim McElderry, who has a track record of identifying talent, especially on the wing.
Dig a little deeper and you can figure out who the Huskies head on the road to. That includes the likes of Providence, Butler, Seton Hall, DePaul, and Georgetown. Georgetown, for those unfamiliar, is the 2019 national champion, having dispatched Virginia in penalties.
The Huskies lost to the Bulldogs 4-1 last year. Butler and Providence both made the NCAA Tournament as well, with the latter falling to Clemson in the Sweet 16 by a final of 2-1. In short, it’s a tough schedule with not a single cupcake to be found.
Look, the AAC was fine. But similar to men’s basketball, UConn men’s soccer didn’t quite exert the dominance on the conference many had expected; SMU and UCF took that mantle instead. So yes, many can argue that the move back to the Big East from AAC is a lateral one from a soccer perspective. Yet take one look at the schedule with those nostalgic names and tell me UConn isn’t back where it belongs.
See you in August with a shiny new stadium (hopefully).
Huskies in the Pros
Before the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., former Huskies were making their presence felt in the United Soccer League (USL). The old Husky dynamic duo of Abdou Mbacke Thiam and Dayonn Harris took the field together for the first time since 2018 in the Wasatch Winter Cup on Feb. 22. Harris’ Real Monarchs fell to Abdou’s Louisville City FC 3-1, with both players entering the statbook. Harris picked up an assist while Mbacke Thiam opened the scoring in the eigth minute.
When footy returns later in the summer, this could be the first of many stats for the former UConn stars in the USL. And given the success of their respective teams, Harris will likely have a chance to clap back at his strike partner in the future.