Previewing men’s soccer’s meeting with Michigan


MSU midfielder Jack Beck winds up for a powerful kick during the Spartans’ 3-0 loss to Bowling Green on Sept. 6, 2021/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Adam Bakr, Men's Soccer Beat Reporter

To paraphrase the late George Orwell, all results are equal but some are more equal than others. For the Michigan State men’s soccer team, tonight’s fixture against Michigan for the Big Bear trophy is worth far more than the three points at stake, and it’s a chance for them to right two wrongs at once. 

On one hand, MSU is coming off back-to-back home conference losses to Indiana and Penn State. Both games saw MSU fail to capitalize on first-half dominance as it went on to drop both games 1-0 to second-half winners in both. The pair of results on top of the 1-1 draw against Wisconsin in Madison leaves MSU without a win after the opening three games of conference play for the first time since 2009. 

On the other hand, the Spartans can end a run of losses against the Wolverines. The rivalry has been marked by Maize and Blue recently, as Michigan has won the last five fixtures. Two of the games have been in the Big Ten tournament opening round, and all of them have come in the last two seasons. With the exception of the 2019 regular season matchup, where Michigan comfortably won 2-0, the games have all been close. Twice MSU took the lead and went on to lose 2-1, and in the other two, it lost 1-0. 

A consistent factor, besides the games all falling Michigan’s way, has been the man to inspire the result. In all three of last season’s encounters, Wolverine midfielder Kevin Buca scored the game-winning goal. He was the embodiment of living for a derby, as he scored all his goals on the season in the matchup. This season, he’s already surpassed last season’s total, as he sits on four goals before taking on his favorite opponents. 

MSU does not quite have a Michigan killer in the same way Michigan has Buca, but three players in the squad have goals against Michigan to their name, and all three may start tonight if Jack Beck, Gianni Ferri and Nick Stone take the field at game time. Beck’s goal came in the 2018 1-1 draw at DeMartin Stadium before Michigan’s winning streak started. 

A win today ends two unwanted streaks, and doing it at the home of its rivals would make the occasion even sweeter for MSU. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Ann Arbor.