Murphy's Law: "Previewing This Weekend's NCAA Men's College Cup

COMMERCE CITY CO (Exclusive to - Colorado Rapids Director of Player Development John Murphy talks to fans exclusively in his column on about the latest happenings from the Rapids world. Check out his latest column below!
This edition: "Previewing the Men's College Cup"
"Once again the men’s college Final Four is upon us....the top 4 teams in the nation will compete this coming weekend for the national championship.
This year we will be in lovely Frisco Texas at Pizza Hut Park scouting the semi's and the final. I love the BBQ in Dallas but I hope the weather is kind to us this weekend!
Texas weather can be quite funny this time of year and my hopes are for a good surface and conditions to give all four teams the best chance at a winning performance. I have seen all four teams this year and unfortunately based on what I have seen I am apprehensive that the games will be quite tight.
In the semifinals it will be the University of North Carolina vs. Wake Forest and in the other semifinal it will be Maryland vs. St. John's.
Wake Forest is not only the favorite but is by far the best team of the four. Games always tighten up in the Semi's and my concern is that fear will take over and the product will become blunted.
However all four teams are very well-coached and going into this weekend on a high. Confident play leads to attacking soccer and that’s what everyone wants to see. It is my hope that good soccer is played this weekend and if that is the case Wake Forest should repeat as champions.
Here's my team-by-team breakdowns of the Final Four:

The Outsiders:
North Carolina

UNC’s women have just won their 19th national championship this past weekend so the men will be looking to join them in a unique double. Throughout the year UNC seemed to be able to adapt to their opponents rather than imposing themselves on the game.
So whether they've faced a tight game (1-0 win vs Northwestern in the quarterfinals) or an open one (3-2 overtime win vs UIC in the sweet sixteen) they seem able to adapt and overcome. This is a very good mindset to have particularly coming into this match vs. Wake. They will have to sit in and have much less of the ball as the Demon Deacons will possess the ball with numbers.
If UNC can break quickly and catch Wake out on the counter they may be able to exploit gaps in their opponent’s shape. If they can do it it will be a huge upset. Regardless it will be a big mountain to climb for the Tar Heels.
Key players: defender Sheanon Williams defender Zach Lloyd forward Brian Shriver
The Hot Team: Maryland

Maryland are a team that have won fourteen straight games and cannot be overlooked at this point of the season.
With all the media focused on Wake Forest the Terps can relax and get prepared for a St John’s team that they match up with very well. Maryland have a solid defense an active midfield and attacking players that can occupy the opponent.
With this in mind they will need to come out to take the game to St John’s. By playing positively they will pin in the Red Storm and create chances during the run of play and on set pieces. However if they allow it to be a tight game this will play into St John’s favor.
Key players: Forward Jeremy Hall center back Omar Gonzales midfielder Drew Yates
The Dark Horse:St John’s

St. John's are a very disciplined scrappy team that don’t have any superstars and they like it that way. Everyone puts in the work on both sides of the ball and this collective strength makes them a difficult opponent to break down.
Their defensive pressure is the springboard for their attack so the key will be where on the pitch they defend from. Watching them vs. South Florida in the Big East Final few weeks ago I noticed them dropping too deep and giving too much of the ball to USF.
Dave Masur is one of the top college coaches and I am sure he has made adjustments since then; their recent results certainly indicate that.
Key players: forward Sverre Gundhus forward Ryan Soroka goalkeeper Neal Kitson

The Favorite: Wake Forest

While this Wake Forest team does not compare to the Virginia teams from the late-eighties and early nineties Wake should be looked upon as one of the best teams of the past twenty years or so.
They have improved upon last season’s national championship with a much more fluid attacking style in 2008. Everyone is comfortable with the ball they move for each other without it and they have depth coming off the bench. They can just wear teams down.
However their patience and their mettle will be tested this weekend. It will be interesting to see how they handle negative opponents on a neutral site. As a fan of the game I certainly hope that Wake can showcase their style of play on national TV this weekend. The college game certainly needs it!
Key players: forward Cody Arnoux midfielder Sam Cronin defender Ike Opara


2008 College Cup Semifinals:

UNC vs. Wake Forest
Prediction: Wake Forest Win 2-1

Maryland vs. St John’s
Prediction: Maryland Win 1-0

2008 NCAA College Cup Championship:
Prediction: Wake Forest Defeat Maryland 2-0

Thanks for giving me the chance to share my analysis with our loyal Rapids fans and I hope everyone tunes in this weekend to watch the semi's and championship match to check out some of the best young players in the country!"
-John Murphy
Director of Player Development Colorado Rapids
Rapids Director of Player Development John Murphy writes his "Murphy's Law" column exclusively for Comments and feedback are welcome; send an email to John directly by clicking here. Check back to the website for future installments!