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Alberto Camargo | NCAA.com | September 16, 2022

3 ranked showdowns highlight the best games to watch across DI men's soccer this week

Clemson defeats Washington, secures 2021 Men's College Cup

With conference play just around the corner for most teams, one of the best matchups in DI men's soccer this week includes two conference rivals in the top-10 to spice up a week that includes several other ranked games.

FULL SCOREBOARD: Don't miss any of the action around DI men's soccer this week

Here are my three best matchups to watch around the country this week:

No. 6 Kentucky vs. No. 7 Marshall | Friday, Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+

Sun Belt Conference play kicks off with a high-profile matchup of the league’s best programs (though Georgia State may have something to say about that). Marshall has already had its statement win, a 2-1 victory over then-No. 2 Pittsburgh on Sept. 2, but a second top-10 victory would be a great resume builder. Freshman Matthew Bell scored both goals against Pitt and has continued his great form since. His production has been sensational, as he is currently tied for first in the race for DI top scorer at six goals in just five games. 

The Wildcats, with three players on two goals, lack any single prolific scorer on their roster. They have relied on a stout defense, for the most part, a unit that has allowed just seven shots per game and an average of just two on goal. A 1-1 tie with Tulsa is the only blemish on the Wildcats’ early season schedule that includes a 3-2 win over in-state rivals and then-No. 10 Louisville on Sept. 6.

No. 9 Denver vs. No. 13 Portland | Friday, Sept. 16 at 9 p.m. ET on Evoca TV

Portland is enjoying the best start to a season since 2018 — the last time the Pilots were unbeaten after five matches. They were one of four new additions to this week’s United Soccer Coaches’ top 25 after a week that included a 2-0 win over then-No. 15 UCLA. Midfielder Brandon Cambridge is the team’s leading scorer with Sebastian Nava pulling the strings for a team-high four assists. 

For Denver, this meeting with Portland will be the team’s first chance to bounce back from its 2-1 loss at the hands of San Diego State on Sept. 11. After an impressive start to the season that propelled them up as high as No. 6, the Pioneers will play host to the latest team making a meteoric rise in the rankings.

TAKEAWAYS: 3 things I noticed from the latest men's soccer top 25

No. 10 Pittsburgh vs. No. 14 Akron | Monday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. ET on ACC Network Extra

Akron dropped out of the top 10 in the latest rankings after a rough week in which they lost to Indiana and allowed an 82nd-minute equalizer to Ohio State. Both opponents were unranked at the time but have since reappeared in the top 25. The Zips’ schedule gets no easier, though, with a trip down I-76 to face the Panthers up next.

That means the Akron backline will have to contend with Pitt’s two-headed attack of Bertin Jacquesson and Noel Valentin. Each has scored three goals, while the former has added three assists for a team-high 9 points this season. They will see a Zips defense that has allowed a goal in all but one game this season as a golden opportunity to continue their production.

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