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Cal Men's Soccer's road to College Cup is revealed, Bears earn 4th overall seed

The road to Philly (site of the 2013 College Cup - the Final Four of NCAA soccer) was announced this morning. Cal received a 4th seed, which means that they get to stay in Berkeley for 3 home matches (provided that they win, of course) to book a trip to Philadelphia.

Bears get to stay in Berkeley for NCAA plays.
Bears get to stay in Berkeley for NCAA plays.
Cal Men's Soccer Facebook

The 48 team NCAA Men's Soccer bracket was announced this morning. If you follow college soccer coaches' poll and RPI, there is no surprise who are at the top. UCLA (11-3-4) received the overall top seed, follow by Washington (14-1-4) as the 2 seed who won the Pac-12 this season. Notre Dame got the 3rd seed, before your California Golden Bears (12-4-2) clinched the 4th and last seed that guarantees all home matches to get to the College Cup (the Final Four of NCAA soccer). Out of the Pac-12, Stanfurd also made the tournament on the strength of their home win over the Bears to close the regular season.

As a seeded team, the Bears get a bye in the first round and await the winner of Northwestern Wildcats (10-7-3 from the Big 10) and Bradley Braves (13-6-2 from the Missouri Valley Conference) on November 21st. The Bears' opening match of the NCAA tournament will be the second round game on Sunday, November 24 at 1:30 PM PT against the winner of Northwestern/Bradley.

Also in the Bears' corner of the bracket, the seeded teams are 13th seed Charlotte (potential 3rd round opponent), 5th seed Maryland (who the Bears have defeated at home early in the season), and 12th seed UC Irvine. The potential (re)match with Maryland or UC Irvine would come in the quarterfinal round, the last round before the College Cup.

For the complete draw, check out the interactive bracket here. Or try to read it on this tweet:

The 2013 College Cup will take place in PPL Park in near Philadelphia, PA. The dates of the College Cup this year are December 13th (semi-finals) and 15th (finals). ESPNU will have the coverage. A rematch with UCLA (top overall seed but who the Bears have defeated down in Westwood) is possible in the semifinal stage.

Should the Bears survive the second round, they would host the third round match on Sunday, December 1st. The quarterfinal match will be played on either Friday, December 6th or Saturday, December 7th.

For the first time in program history, the Cal Men's Soccer team was ranked No.1 in the nation for 6 straight weeks (September 23 to November 4). Like the Cal Women's team, the Men's Soccer was able to start the year with a long undefeated streak where they defeated then No.3 Georgetown (2-0 on 8/30) and then No.2 Maryland (3-2 OT on 9/1). Bears were undefeated through 12 matches (10-0-2) before a surprising home loss to San Diego. At home this year, the Bears are 8-2-1 with the losses to UCLA and San Diego and the draw with Washington.

In the last 6 matches, the Bears only went 2-4, suffering losses to the NCAA tournament bound UCLA, Washington, and Stanfurd in addition to that aberration that was the San Diego match. In the last two matches, Cal's senior defenseman, team captain, and leading goal scorer Steve Birnbaum has been out with an ankle injury suffered in the Oregon State win. Without Birnbaum, the Bears' defense was particularly vulnerable at times. There is still another week for the Bears to get healthy and/or figure out how to compensate for life without Birny (obviously hoping for the former).

With the extra interest given to the team by the college soccer world, you would think that Cal would provide video streams for all the home matches. That information has yet to be announced.

Cal fans in the area should head out to Edwards Field to cheer on the Bears in person though. The matches should all be on the weekend (first two are on Sundays) and it is a great outing for families.

Men's Soccer RPI (from Nov. 11) for teams in Cal's region:

Cal (4)

Potential Round 2 Opponents:
Northwestern (40)
Bradley (70)

Potential Round 3 Opponents:
Charlotte (23)
Coastal Carolina (28)
East Tennessee State (89)

Maryland (9)
UC Irvine (19)

Clearly some of the teams must have won or faltered in their conference tournament to have their RPI number changed in the last week. Still, this is a decent indicator of how good these teams are. Overall, I would say that the Bears have a fairly favorable draw.