2020 Team Reviews

2020 Team and Recruiting Class Reviews

South Florida Adds Eight 2020 Newcomers. Bulls Seek To Build On Successful 2019 Campaign

South Florida is coming off a season in which they were 11-7-1 wih a 4-3-0 mark in American Athletic Conference play. The Bulls return a solid core of players supplemented by a promising recruiting class.   

Departures and Gaps -  Departures due to graduation include goalkeeper Harrison Devenish-Meares who was a two-year starter, midfielder Emilio Ycaza (4g, 0a) who was a two-year starter, midfielder Steven Rudderham (0g, 3a) and defender Jonathan Rosales (4g, 2a) who was a three-year starter.  

Opportunity for Improvement -  Big play ability. The abiity to convert more of the scoring opportunities that are created in the final third.  

Summary - The new normal for now in the now six member American Athletic Conference in soccer in 2020 includes a ten match double-round-robin schedule of conference matches. South Florida's season is slated to begin on Saturday, September 5 when they host Temple. The Bulls then host SMU the following Saturday and travel to tangle with in-state rival UCF in Orlando the next Saturday. 

South Florida has improved during each of the three seasons that Bob Butehorn has been the head coach with six wins in 2017, seven wins in 2018 and eleven wins in 2019. The Bulls returned to the NCAA Tournament last year and had a double-digit win season for the first time since 2016. Butehorn will enter his fourth season at the helm of the South Florida program in 2020 with a team that on paper looks to be the strongest and most experienced from top to bottom that he has had to date.

Although the Bulls may be stronger and more competitive in 2020 than in 2019, it is difficult to determine how that will translate in terms of wins and losses and standing in the hierarchy of the very competitive AAC. South Florida was 4-3-0 in 2019 in conference play. Butehorn will not have to wait long to get a good idea how competitive his team will be in 2020.

South Florida's first three contests of the season are with the three conference teams that defeated them in regular season play last year. The Bulls came out on the short end last year in a 3-1 contest with Temple, a 1-0 match with UCF and a 3-0 game with SMU.  Look for the outcome of those three matches to set the pace for South Florida's 2020 season. Wins in those contests would be a huge momentum builder. The Bulls can't afford to look past anyone and have to take it one game at a time but one of the best measures of the level of improvement at South Florida and their ceiling in 2020 will be how well they fare against AAC frontrunners SMU and UCF.    

Senior Adrian Billhardt (6g, 1a), a 2019 All-AAC selection, returns up top along with sophomore Victor Claudel (3g, 2a). Billhardt is a playmaker who has been an impact player since arriving in Tampa. Look for Billhardt to again be the go-to guy in South Florida's offense in 2020. Claudel was a starter last year who is now primed to get the bump in productivity that usually occurs between freshman and sophomore seasons. Freshman Oscar Resano is among several members of the recruiting class with the potential to add depth and an additional dimension to the attack up top. 

The departure of Emilio Ycaza (4g, 0a) and Steven Rudderham (0g, 3a) necessitates some reloading in the midfield but a solid contingent of midfielders are set to return led by seniors Josue Monge (2g, 1a), Diego Guerreo, and Trey Jackson (3g, 2a). Juniors Richard Laval and Felipe Baptista are among other returning linkmen who will seek to be in the mix. Redshirt sophomore transfer Danny Cabrera who played in nineteen contests with four starts at Coastal Carolina in 2019 is among the newcomers who will be in the hunt for playing time in the midfield.  

The backline looks to be deep, athletic, and a team strength with 2019 All-AAC First Team selections senior Avionne Flanagan (1g, 7a) who is a three-year starter and redshirt sophomore Javain Brown (3g, 1a) slated to return along with senior Freddy Gill (0g, 6a), junior Marcus Murphy who is a two-year starter, junior Gordon Phipps and junior Henrique Gallina (1g, 2a) who is a two-year starter. Sophomore Salvatore Mazzaferro who was a starter and AAC All-Rookie Team member last year should again play a key role in the back in 2020 along with sophomore Sergio Pineros-Mazzaferro who appeared in nine contests with one start last year.   

Sophomore Cooper Bay who started two contests last year and junior Kazuna Takase are among the returning players who will compete for the very signficant starting job in goal that is vacant due to the graduation of Harrison Devenish-Meares.  

Expectations are justifiably up at South Florida heading into the 2020 campaign but upward movement in the AAC hierarchy will require improvement on both sides of the ball. Cautious optimism is warrented. The Bulls may still be a season or two away from overtaking SMU and UCF. The bounce that the returning players get from the experience gained last year and the impact that the newcomers will have remains to be seen. Improvement on the offensive side of the ball will likely hinge on Adrian Billhardt's big play ability, the productivity of Victor Claudel, and the ability of midfielders like Josue Monge and Trey Jackson and perhaps a newcomer or two to add balance to the attack. The backline looks to be very good but improvement and stability on the defensive side of the ball will likely depend on the level of play in goal which for now is a key unanswered question.   

Newcomers

Max Gottwald - Defender - Schotten, Germany - Staatliches Sportgymnasium Jena - Played club for FC Carl Zeiss Jena. Team captain. Named to the Thuringia Regional Team in 2016 and 2017. 

Oscar Resano - Forward - Mexico City, Mexico - Universidad Intercontinental - Played club soccer for Pumas where he scored thirty-five goals in fifty-one contests. 

Shion Soga - Midfielder - Aichi, Japan - Novi High School - Scored nineteen goals and contributed fourteen assist at Novi High Schoo in Michigan in 2019. Named to the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association Dream Team. Named to the 2019 United Soccer Coaches High School All-Great Lakes Region Team. Played club soccer for Michigan Jaguars FC. 

Segun Afolabi - Forward - Austell, Georgia - Campbell High School - Played club soccer for NASA Tophat ECNL. Team captain. Named 2019 Region Player of the Year while playing for Campbell High School. Scored twenty goals at Campbell in 2019. 

Josh Gomina - Midfielder - Sampa, Ghana - Avon Old Farms School - Played club soccer with Black Rock FC. Named to the 2019 All-New England Preparatory School Athletic Council Team. All-Western New England Prep School Soccer Association Team. 

Donovan Hesselmeyer - Midfielder - North Ft. Myers - Timber Creek High School - Played club soccer with the Orlando City Development Academy where he played in thirty-two games with twenty-six starts. . 

Jeffrey "JT" Cooper - Midfielder - Tampa, Florida - Berkeley Prep - Named 2017 Hillsborough County Player of the Year at Berkeley Prep. Netted twenty-three goals and had fifteen assists. Played club soccer with the Clearwater Chargers Development Academy. Named to the U.S. Development Academy Eastern Conference Best XI. Called up to the U.S. Soccer U-18 National Team camp in June 2018. 

Brian Schaefer - Midfielder - Atlantic Beach, Florida - Fletcher High School - First Team All-City by the Florida Times Union. All-First Coast Team selection. First-Team All-Gateway Conference selection. Played club soccer for Jacksonville Armada where he had twenty starts in twenty-three contests.


 

 

Virginia Adds Thirteen Member 2020 Recruiting Class. Cavaliers Talented But Must Reload

The Cavaliers will be without a lot of star power due to the fact that several players left to pursue professional careers. The departures create a challenge but George Gelnovatch and his staff are pretty good at filling big shoes and winning championships. There isn't a more reliable team in college soccer than the Virginia Cavaliers who have earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament for thirty-nine consecutive seasons including twenty-four under Gelnovatch.  

Departures and Gaps - Virginia will be without defender Robin Afamefuna who was a four-year starter and team captain due to graduation. The Cavaliers will also be without the services of All-American forward Daryl Dike (10g, 8a) who was a two-year starter, All-American defender Henry Kessler (1g, 0a) who was a two-year starter, All-American midfielder Joe Bell (7g, 4a) who was a three-year starter, and forward Daniel Steedman (3g, 7a) who elected to enter the professional ranks. Kessler and Bell left at the conclusion of their junior season while Dike and Steedman elected to leave after their sophomore season. .  

Opportunity for Improvement - Early departures provide the opportunity and the necessity for several of the returning players to assume a much greater role in 2020 without a prolonged learning curve. It also provides the opportunity for the next generation of Cavalier stars to emerge 

Coach's Recruiting Class Comment - George Gelnovatch stated, "This class gives us an immediate injection of experience and leadership and sprinkles in some really good young talent." Gelnovatch added, "We were presented with a big challenge back in January after a good number of our veterans moved on to the professional ranks and/or graduated. I think there is a nice blend of transfers with familiarity with this level of soccer as well as a good number of international guys that can help us right away."

Summary - Virginia is coming off a banner 2019 season in which they were 21-2-1, won the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, were awarded the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the national final where they tied Georgetown 3-3 after 110 minutes of play but were edged by Hoyas 7-6 in a penalty kick shootout.

Virginia was a tough team to face last year in large part because they successfully upped their level of productivity and explosiveness on the offensive side of the ball while continuing to be among the most tenacious teams in the country on the defensive side of the ball. The Cavaliers found the back of the net a total of forty-six times last year while allowing opponents to score a total of thirteen goals. Virginia's resilience and explosiveness on the offensive side of the ball was a difference maker throughout the season. Virginia's 3-1 win over Duke in their ACC season opener, their 3-1 win over Clemson in the ACC Championship match, and their 3-2 win over SMU in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament were excellent examples of their resilience.     

Virginia will enter the 2020 season with several unanswered questions on both sides of the ball. College coaches plan ahead to fill the voids that exist due to graduation but the early departure of players to the professional ranks are often difficult to anticipate. The loss of forward Daryl Dike (10g, 3a), midfielder Joe Bell (7g, 4a) and forward Daniel Steedman (3g, 7a) creates a void on the offensive side of the ball while the loss of Robin Afamefuna (2g, 2a) and Henry Kessler (1g, 0a) leaves some big and experienced shoes to fill on the defensive side of the ball.

The good news is that the quality of talent on Virginia's roster is always solid with a wealth of skilled and soccer savvy players on board. In addition, George Gelnovatch does a really good job annually of sorting out and making the adjustments in the style of play that need to be made to align with the strengths of his players and maximize their productivity. 

The ability of the individual players to effectively merge their individual talents into a unified team, mental toughness, and experience are the key variables from season to season at Virginia. Those factors will have a huge impact on the productivity of the 2020 team. Clearly the 2019 squad checked all the boxes. They were a talented as well as cohesive, tough and experienced team. Virginia will enter the 2020 season with some proven pieces on board but replicating the balance and toughess of the 2019 team will not be easy and is a stretch.

Senior Nathaniel Crofts (6g, 3a), a three-year starter, returns to power the attack up-top. Crofts is a playmaker with all-conference talent. Senior Irakoze Donasiyano (4g, 6a) who has been a starter for the past two seasons gives the Cavaliers another swift, capable and experienced finisher either up top or in the midfield. Junior Cabrel Happi Kamseu (2g, 1a) who was hampered last year due to injury and sophomores Axel Gunnarsson (2g, 4a) and Philip Horton (1g, 0a) are among returning mainstays who could help fill the void that exists on the offensive side of the ball. Sophomore forward Matthew Warbrick is among other returning players who will seek to assume a greater role in 2020. Sophomore transfer Kevin Ogudugu from Portland and freshmen Kaya Ignacio and Leo Afonso are among the newcomers who could push for playing time and add depth to the offense up top.

Senior Spencer Patton (4g, 1a) who played in twenty-four contests with four starts last year is among the returning midfielders who look to be in the hunt for a greater role in 2020. Senior Beau Bradley, junior Ben Grant, and sophomores Jeremy Verley, Isaiah Byrd and Nick Berghold are among other returning midfielders who seek to be in the mix. Graduate student Joan Gilbert and freshman Jules Anderson are among the midfielders in the recruiting class who should make the competition for playing time in the midfield interesting. 

How the Cavaliers replace backs Robin Afamefuna and Henry Kessler will be critical. Sophomore Andreas Ueland (3g, 1a) who had a banner freshman season and junior Bret Halsey (1g, 2a) who were starters last year provide a solid necleus upon which to reload the backline. Sophomores Eden Noverr and Reed Kessler are among other returning defenders who will seek to play a greater role in 2020. Transfer Oliver Gerbig, a starter for the past two seasons at Coastal Carolina, and graduate student Louis Evans who appeared in twenty-eight carrer contests at Davidson are experienced members of the recruiting class who could be in the hunt for a starting spot in the back.

United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News All-American redshirt senior Colin Shuter returns in goal to anchor the defense. Shuter, a starter for the past two seasons, recorded a 0.53 goals against average last year while posting fifteen shutouts. Shuter is a top notch shot stopper with superb instints and composure between the pipes.

Newcomers

Leo Afonso - Forward - Boynton Beach, Florida - YSC Academy - Played for Boca United, Philadelphia Union and Inter Miami. Scored twenty-five goals for Boca United in 2017-2018.

Julian Aguilar - Midfielder - Guatemala City, Guatemala - American School of Guatemala - Played for Achik Club and was team captain for three seasons. Lead Achik Club in assists. Named to the Association of American Schools of Central America Tournament All-Star Team.

Jules Anderson - Midfielder - Ocean, New Jersey - YSC Academy - Played for Philadelphia Union and Rangers FC.  Ranked by College Soccer News as the number twenty player in the class of 2020. 

Holden Brown - Goalkeeper - Zionsville, Indiana - Zionsville High School - Played for Zionsville Youth Academy for five years before joining the Indiana Fire Development Academy. Signed with Indy 11 (USL) prior to the 2019 season. First Team All-State as a sophomore in high school. 

Rafael Caipo - Midfielder - Lima, Peru - Franklin Delano Roosevelt - Played for Sporting Cristal. Played for the Peruvian National Team at the U-15 and U-17 levels. Captain of the U-17 Peruvian National Team. 

Louis Evans - Defender - Canterbury, New Zealand - Graduate Student transfer from Davidson College where he appeared in twenty-eight games with twenty-six starts. Started ten of eleven contests with Davidson in 2019 season. Suffered a season-ending injury two games into his junior season.

Oliver Gerbig - Devender - Taipei, Taiwan - Junior transfer from Coastal Carolina where he appeared in thirty-five contests. Played in twenty-one games in 2019 with twenty starts. Played for Hong Kong in the AFC U-23 Qualifiers in the spring of 2019. Member of Hong Kong U-20 National Team.

Joan Gilbert - Midfielder - Barcelona, Spain -  Played club soccer for Valencia Academy, UE Cornella, UE Castelldefels and most recently with Santfeliuenc (2018-2020). 

Kaya Ignacio - Forward - Georgetown, Texas - Georgetown - Played club for Lonestar SC and most recently the Houston Dynamo Academy. Team captain. Muember of the U-15 U.S. Boys National Team. Named 2018-2019 Houston Dynamo Academy Player of the Year. 

Kevin Ogudugu - Forward - Oslo, Norway - Sophomore transfer from the University of Portland. Appeared in nine games with three starts for Portland in 2019 season. Played club soccer for Valerenga IF. Played for Valerenga 2.

Alex Rando - Goalkeeper - New York New York - The Beacon School - Transfer from Stanford University where he didn't see action last year. Played club soccer for NYCFC (2015-2019). Named the 2019 U-19 Golden Glove Winner. 

Chris Scheipe - Midfielder - Duluth, Georgia - Greater Atlanta Christian School - Played club soccer for Concorde Fire and the United Futbol Academy (2017-2020). Served as team captain for the UFA Development Academy.for three years. All-Region selection as a freshman at Greater Atlanta Christian School.

William Shuchart - Forward - St. Petersburg, Florida - East Lake High School - Played for Chargers SC Academy (2014-2019) 


 

 

NC State Adds Seven 2020 Newcomers. Wolfpack Eager For The Season To Begin

Good things are happening at NC State. The Wolfpack earned the program's third consecutive berth in the NCAA Tournament last year while moving upward in the ACC hierarchy. NC State looks to be a program that is a work in progress while also securing positive results. That is a combination that bodes well for the future of the program. 

Departures and Gaps - The Wolfpack will be without the services of midfielder David Loera (5g, 3a) who elected to enter the professional ranks after his junior season. Loera was a three-year starter who was a 2019 All-ACC Second Team selection and a 2018 All-ACC First Team member with nine career goals and fifteen career assists. Departures due to graduation include midfielders Tyler Gabarra (1g, 6a) and Gabriel Machado (2g, 3a) who was a two-year starter after transferring in from Monroe College and goalkeeper Vinnie Durand who was the starter between the pipes in 2019. 

Opportunity for Improvement - The Wolfpack scored a total of twenty-three goals while allowing twenty-four last year. That ratio will need to change in order for continued improvment to occur. The Pack defense allowed three goals last year in four contests including ACC losses to Wake Forest, Syracuse and Clemson and their loss to Coastal Carolina in the NCAA Tournament.   

Coach's Recruiting Class Comment - George Kiefer stated, "With the foundation that we have been building here at NC State, we are now able to go out and be able to be very specific in our recruiting. These newcomers hit on all the position groups, and I'm really excited to see them out on the field as they have all played high-level soccer and will be tremendous additions to our team culture."

Summary - Eight starters along with a group of players who logged significant minutes last year and goalkeeper Leon Krapf who missed all but one contest in 2019 due to injury are slated to return from the 2019 team that was 9-7-3 overall with a 3-4-1 mark in Atlantic Coast Conference competition. That means George Kiefer will have plenty of familiar faces to work with as he enters his fourth season at the helm of a program that earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament for three consecutive seasons for the first time since 1985-1987. 

There is considerable continuity at NC State heading into the 2020 season with plenty of athletic ability returning at every position. Nonetheless the Wolfpack may be hard pressed to fill the void that exists due to the departure of midfielder David Loera (5g, 3a) who was the focal point of the Pack attack last year and a special player. Loera's decision at the conclusion of the 2019 season to depart early to enter the professional ranks, like midfielder Manny Perez did at the conclusion of the 2018 season, leaves some big shoes to fill.

Junior forward Kuda Muskwe (5g, 2a) who had four game-winning goals last year is among the returning players with the potential to power the attack and assume the burden of being the focal point of the offense in 2020. Sophomore Tony Temple who appeared in fifteen contests last year and sophomore Sheldon China who appeared in three are among other returning players with the potenital to play a greater role up top in 2020. Forward Pau Palacin is among the members of the recruiting class who could be in the mix for minutes early on.  

The midfield will be deep with several different lineup options available despite the loss of Loera and the graduation of Gabriel Machado (2g, 3a) and Tyler Gabarra. Junior Ivy Brisma, a starter for the past two seasons, returns to play a key role in the midfield or up top. Junior Pepe Garcia (3g, 2a), a two-year starter, returns to help carry the load as a midfielder or defender. Seniors George Asomani (1g, 0a), Brad Sweeney (0g, 1a) and Jose Morales and junior Aidan Foster (0g, 1a) should also figure prominently in the midfield mix in 2020. Redshirt sophomore A.J. Seals and juniors Bailey O'Connor and Eleo Domingos are among other returning linkmen who will be in the hunt for playing time. Junior transfer Alex Hernandez who was a starter last year at Appalachian State is among the members of the recruiting class with the potential to make an immediate impact in the midfield.

The backline will be experienced and should be a team strength. Seniors Jamie Smith (2g, 3a) and David Norris and sophomores Pablo Pedregosa (2g, 0a) and Kendall Edwards (1g, 0a) are among returning defenders who logged significant playing time last year. Senior Cyrus Rad and juniors Alex Bautista and James Orozco are among other returning backs who will seek to up their minutes in 2020. Junior transfer Parker Cross who was a starter last year at Appalachian State is a positive addition to the backline.

The Wolfpack will be in good hands in goal with the return of a healthy Leon Krapf who played every minute in goal during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Krapf will no doubt be eager to return to the field of play after being sidelined last year due to injury. Sophomores Windham Ellis and David Merola also return between the sticks. Both are very capable goalkeepers.

The bottom line is that NC State seems to be well equipped for another successful season in 2020 based on the talent returning. A step backward is not liikely but significant upward movement in the highly competitve Atlantic Coast Conference will require improvement on the defensive side of the ball and hinge on the Wolfpack's ability to replace and build on the playmaking ability on the offensive side of the ball that Loera brought to the pitch. In a conference like the ACC which is loaded with competitive teams, it takes a complete and deep team to challenge for the title. Expectations are understandably higher now at NC State based on the success the program has had over the past three seasons. While the Wolfpack may not have the ingredients needed to break into the upper echelon of the ACC just yet, they are moving in that direction.  

Newcomers

Declan Brose - Midfielder - Holly Springs, North Carolina - Brose is a sophomore transfer from Wake Tech where he was an All-Conference selection in 2019 with seven goals and seven assists. Took a gap year out of high school and played in France in 2019 for Stade Briochin. 

Marco Cottone - Defender - Syosset, New York - Syosset High School - Played for Met Oval Academy. All-Conference selection at Syossett High School as a junior. 

Parker Cross - Defender - Cary, North Carolina - Panther Creek High School - A junior transfer from Appalachian State where he started nineteen contests in 2019 and recorded three assists. Appeared in fourteen games at Appalachian State in 2018 with one start. All-State and All-Conferene selection at Panther Creek High School where he had thirty-eight goals and fourteen assists in two seasons. 

Alex Darko - Defender - Accra, Ghana - St. Andrews High School - Played for Phoenix Academy. Named Phoenix Academy Tournament MVP. 

Alex Hernandez - Midfielder - Asheboro, North Carolina - Asheboro High School - Junior transfer from Appalachian State where he played in nineteen games with sixteen starts in 2019 and led the Mountaineers in scoring with five goals. In 2019 played in seventeen games at Appalachian State with one start. Played for USSDA Fusion where he scored twenty-five goals in three seasons. 

Pau Palacin - Forward - Alzira, Spain - University of Valencia - Played for UD Alzira, Valencia CF, Hercules U-19 Academy and UE Tavernes in Spain.

Tyler Perrie - Goalkeeper - Waldorf, Maryland - North Point High School - Played for DC United Acadmey. Team captain and MVP as a senior. 


California Adds Five 2020 Newcomers. Golden Bears Return Eight Starters.

California retuns a solid contingent of players from a roller coaster 2019 season during which gutsy wins on the road over Washington and Stanford during the last week of the regular season gave the Golden Bears the edge they needed to secure an at large berth in the NCAA Tournament.  

Departures and Gaps - Departures due to graduation include outside back Simon Lekressner who was a 2019 All-Pac-12 First Team selection and two-year starter, goalkeeper Drake Callendar who was a 2018 and 2019 All-Pac-12 Second Team selection and 2017 All-Pac-12 First Team member, and backup goalkeeper Noah Texter who started four contests in 2019. 

Opportunities for Improvement - Greater consistency. The Golden Bears lost several contests by a single goal. If they are able to finish a higher percentage of their scoring opportunities in 2020 they will win some of the contests that eluded them last year. California was 1-3-1 at home in Pac-12 play and 3-1-1 while on the road. In order to improve they must find a way to hold serve against Pac-12 opponnents when playing at home. 

Coach's Recruiting Class Comment - Kevin Grimes stated, "This is a great group of five players that we have added to our program. Each one of them highlights specific needs to our team and should help us in a big way to reach our goals. We couldn't be happier with their decision to sign with Cal.  

Summary - Both back Simon Lekressner and goalkeeper Drake Callendar will be missed but with so many skilled players returning with an additional year of experience under their belts it stands to reason that the Golden Bears will be a stonger and more consistent team in 2020 than they were last year.  Still, with teams facing a new normal in 2020, it is diffiuclt to predict how the experience the Cal players gained last year will translte in terms of wins and losses and standing within the Pac-12 hierarchy in 2020. The Pac-12 announced on July 31 that college soccer competition in the conference in 2020 will begin no earlier than the weekend of September 26 and will consist of a conference only schedule.  

What we do know is that Kevin Grimes, who will enter his twenty-first season as the head coach at California as the program's winningest coach with a 204-135-45 overall record, will have a good amount of experienced talent to work with and also some work to do to improve the consistency of play of the Golden Bears. California's lack of consistency and predictability last year, with the exception of two 3-3 ties with UCLA, was reflected in the fact that whenever they played a team twice the outcome of the first and second contests were different.

One of the first challenges facing the Golden Bears heading into the 2020 season will be settling on a replacement for Drake Callendar in goal. The candidates include sophomore Collin Travasos out of the Atlanta United Academy and San Diego Surf Club whose resume includes playing time with the U-18 Men's National Team, redshirt junior Chris Gustini, and freshman Matthew Westly. 

The backline should be solid and organized with three starters slated to return, yet depth could be an issue. Junior center backs JJ Foe Nuphaus, a 2019 All-Pac-12 Second Team selection, and junior Ian Lonergan, a two-year starter, and senior left back Christopher Grey, a three-year starter. will anchor what should be a very talented and experienced backline. Sophomores Tate Dolan and Togo Nakamura are among other returning defenders who will seek to play a greater role in 2020.

California looks to be solidly intact up-top and in the midfield heading into the 2020 season. Senior forward Tommy Williamson (9g, 0a), a 2019 All-Pac-12 selection and Cal's go-to guy last year, will seek to build on a breakthrough 2019 campaign in which he went from zero goals in 2018 to a team leading nine goals in 2019, Junior playmaker Jonathan Estrada (5g, 7a) and redshirt junior Alonzo Del Munda (2g, 9a) who has two years of starting experience also return up top to add punch to the offense. Sophomore Arman Samimi (1g, 1a) and senior Dylan Penn are among other returning forwards who will challenge for minutes. Freshman forward Nate Carrasco is among the members of the recruiting class with the potential to make an immediate contribution. 

Junior Taylor Davila (0g, 1a), a two-year starter and 2019 All-Pac 12 and All-Far West Region First Team member, returns to set the pace and add stability in the Golden Bear midfield. Senior speedster Francisco Perez (2g, 6a), a starter for three seasons, and redshirt junior Lucas Churchill (0g, 1a) who came off the bench in fourteen of the fifteen contests in which he appeared last year also figure to play key roles in the midfield in 2020. Redshirt junior Kaleo Fernandez, redshirt sophomore Christian Gomez (1g, 2a), and sophomores Fahmi Ibrahim (1g, 0a), Jack Singer, and Juan Martinez are among other returning linkmen who will be in the mix for a greater role in 2020.   

California will not be the frontrunner to win the 2020 Pac-12 Conference title. You have to go back to 2010 to find a season in which the Golden Bears finished in the number one spot in the Pac-12. Regardless, don't sleep on California in 2020. The Golden Bears have enough talent and experience to be very good. Whether or not they have what it takes in 2020 to consistently play with the mojo and focus that the 2019 team displayed when they upset Washington and Stanford on the road during the final week of regular season remains to be seen. It should be interesting. 

Newcomers

Nathan Carrasco - Forward - Sacramento, California - McClatchy High School - Played for Sacramento Republic FC Academy. 

Evan Davila - Midfielder - Sherman Oaks, California - Sherman Oaks Notre Dame - Played for Real SoCal Academy. 

Fernando Lara Barrios - Midfielder - Bonita, California - Played for Nomads FC Academy. 

Matthew Westly - Goalkeeper - Atherton, California - Menlo School - Played for Silicon Valley Soccer Academy. 

Adrian Guzman - Midfielder - El Sobrante, California - Played for Lamorinda S.C. 


Duke Adds Stellar Ten Member 2020 Recruiting Class. Blue Devils Seek To Rebound And Reload.

A large senior class and two graduate students have departed and one starter elected to leave early to enter the professional ranks. That's a lot to replace. That means that Duke is about to get a lot younger in 2020. 

Departures and Gaps - Departures due to graduation include forward Daniel Proch (12g, 5a) who was a three-year starter and two-time All-ACC First Team selection with twenty-eight career goals and eleven career assists, forward Colby Agu (3g, 1a) who was a two-year starter, midfielder Brandon Williamson (1g, 3a) who was a four-year starter, midfielder Max Moser (2g, 6a) who was a four-year starter, midfielder Suniel Veerakone (1g, 0a) who was a two-year starter. Duke will also be without graduate student defender Hassan Pinto (1g, 0a) who transferred in from Elon for a single season and graduate student defender Sergi Nus who transferred in from Virginia for a single season. Duke will also be without the services of defender Aedan Stanley who was a two-year starter who elected to enter the professional ranks after his sophomore season. 

Opportunities for Improvement - Duke was a senior laden team last year but they had trouble at times settling into a rhythm of play which impacted their ability to maintain possession and create momentum. Jelling as a team and settling into a rhythm of play will be critical in 2020 with so many new faces in key roles. 

Summary - Things are a lot different at Duke than they were this time last year. The Blue Devils entered the 2019 season with a lot of returning talent, a small recruiting class, very high expectations, and a top ten preseason national ranking. Duke won their first four contests in 2019 and rocketed upward to a number two ranking in the United Soccer Coaches Poll and a number four ranking in the College Soccer News Poll but their season began to implode after a 3-1 loss at home to Virginia in their first ACC contest of the year and unexpectedly took a downward turn from which Duke never seemed to recover. The Blue Devils played everyone close last year but never seemed to fully jell as a team. As a result they had difficulty settling into a rhythm of play which hampered their ability to come up with the big plays and the momentum they needed to take control and close out the close contests. Duke ended the season with a 7-9-2 overall record and 2-5-1 mark in conference play. 

The good news is that reinforcements look to be on the way via a top notch recruiting class that has the potential to make an immediate impact. In addition a solid neclus returns on the defensive side of the ball upon which to rebuild. Nonetheless, there are a lot of unanswered questions at Duke heading into the 2020 season.

Issue number one relates to offensive productivity. Players who were responsible for twenty of the twenty-eight goals that Duke put into the back of the net in 2019 have departed including forward Daniele Proch who was the main-man in Duke's attack for the past two seasons. Replacing Proch, who was Duke's only All-ACC selection last year and the guy who the Blue Devils relied on for offensive firepower, will not be easy. Senior Daniel Wright (2g, 3a) who appeared in seventeen contests with ten starts last year and sophomore Scotty Taylor (2g, 1a) who appeared in sixteen games with two starts in 2019 are among the most prominent returning forwards. Senior Nicolas Macri who played in eigheeen games in 2018 with one start also returns up top. Forward Miguel Ramirez is among several very promising members of the recruiting class who could compete for minutes and add additional punch to the attack. 

The departure of Brandon Williamson, Max Moser and Suniel Veerakone creates a void that must be filled in the midfield. Graduate student Jack Doran who has two years of starting experience under his belt but missed the 2019 season due to injury returns as an outside midfielder. Junior Conor Kelly (0g, 1a) and senior Kristofer Gardarsson (2g, 0a) are among returning midfielders who saw action last year who should add value in 2020. Kees Heetderks, Cameron Kerr, Daneil Aguilar and Alex Slover are among returning sophomores who will seek to be in the mix for a greater role in the midfield in 2020. Nick Pariano and Peter Stroud are among several members of the recruiting class who should challenge for playing time and add depth in the midfield. 

The Blue Devils have some continuity on the defensive side of the ball which is a plus. Senior Matthias Frick (1g, 2a) is a three-year starter who will be a durable part of the defense as a center back or center midifielder. Junior Ian Murphy (1g, 1a), a two-year starter, and senior Stephen O'Connell (0g, 3a) also return to add stability and experience to the backline. Senior Will Pulisic, a highly regarded three-year starter who is among the top goalkeepers in the country, returns between the pipes to anchor the defense. Pulisic will enter the 2020 season with nineteen carrear shutouts.  

Duke unexpectedly took a step back last year after double-digit win seasons and a number six seed in the NCAA Tournament in 2017 and 2018.  How much ground and momentum the 2020 team can recover will depend on the ability of returning players to assume significantly greater roles and the capacity of the recruiting class to contribute. There are a lot of questions marks and a lot of work to be done at Duke heading into the 2020 season. Still, John Kerr and his staff will have an intriguing group of newcomers to work with and there seems to be enough talent returning for the Blue Devils to exceed last seasons win total if everything falls into place and everyone plays to their potential. 

Newcomers

Miguel Ramirez - Forward - Lawrenceville, Georgia - Discovey High School - Played for Atlanta United FC Academy where he scored eighteen goals. Prior to that he played for Concorde Fire Academy where he had twenty-two goals and United Football Academy.

Santa Ihara - Midfielder - Tokyo, Japan - Montverde Academy - Named the Gatorade Florida Player of the Year. Scored six goals and contributed ten assists last year at Monverde Academy. Also played with Orlando City Academy in 2018-2019.

Krew Verratti - Midfielder - Cincinnati, Ohio - Indian Hill High School - Played for Cincinnati United Premier. Four-year member of the varsity boy's soccer team at Indian Hill High School. Two-year team captain. 

Sintayehu Clements - Defender - Seattle, Washington - The Northwest School - Played for Seattle Sounders Academy. Previously plaid for Seattle United.

Nick Pariano - Midfielder - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -  YSC Academy - Played for Philadelphia Union Academy. Played for Crew SC Academy. Trained with Philadelphia Union First Team and Union II.

Peter Stroud - Midfielder - Chester, New Jersey -  Laurel Springs - Played for West Ham United for two seasons. Also played for New York Red Bulls. Member of U.S. U-15 and U-17 National Teams.

Tino Lopez - Midfielder - Las Vegas, Nevada - Federal Way Internet Academy - Played for Seattle Sounders Academy. Previously played for Shattuck St. Mary's Academy team. Named Top XI Player in the 2019 Development Academy Showcase. Played with U.S. U-17 National Team.  

Amir Daley - Defender - Elmont, New York - Elmont Memorial - Played for the New York Red Bulls Academy. Started eighty-one of eighty-nine games during his Academy career and scored a total of five goals. 

Lewis McGarvey - Defender - Belfast, Northern Ireland - St. Malachy's College Belfast - Played for Glentoran Football Club. Promoted to the senior team in 2018. Named the team's Player of the Year. 

JT Harms - Goalkeeper - Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin - Plain City High School - Played for Crew SC Academy. Selected to be a part of the Generation Adidas International MLS Elite Goalkeeper Program in Germany. Part of the U.S. Youth National Team system. 


 

 

Missouri State Adds Fifteen Member Recruiting Class. Eight Starters Slated To Return in 2020.

Missouri State will seek to build on an outstanding eighteen win 2019 season during which they set a new program record for wins in a single season, won the regular season MVC title with a perfect 10-0-0 mark in conference play, earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament, and won the program's first NCAA Tournament contest.  

Departures and Gaps - Departures due to graduation include All-American forward and Missouri Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year Matthew Bentley (15g, 4a), midfielder Stuart Wilkin (5g, 4a) who was a 2019 All-MVC First Team selection and four-year starter, midfielder Ian Jones (3g, 2a) who was a 2019 All-MVC Second Team selection, and defender Ben Stroud (4g, 0a) who was a 2019 All-MVC selection and four-year starter. 

Opportunities for Improvement - The Bears will be without four of their five top goal scorers from the 2019 team The four departures produced twenty-seven of the forty-three goals Missouri State scored last year including ten game-winners. The opportunity exists for others to step up to replace the void that exists on the offensive side of the ball.  

Coach's Recruiting Class Comment - Associate Head Coach Michael Seabolt stated, "The 2020 additions to our program are very important for our short and long-term goals. It's our responsibility to make sure we continue on the past of graowth that has hallmarked this program since its inception." Seabolt added, "We feel these young men will be fantastic additions to our university, our community, and our men's soccer program" 

Summary - Jon Leamy will enter his twenty-ninth season as the head coach at Missouri State in 2020 with eighteen returning players including eight starters and a large fifteen member recruiting class that includes twelve international players.

Statistics can be misleading but in the case of Missouri State's history making 2019 season the data is very revealing. The Bears are traditionally solid on the defensive side of the ball which was the case again last year when they held opponents to a total of only thirteen goals. The difference between Missouri State's eighteen win 2019 season and their nine win seasons in 2016, 2017, and 2018 was their productivity on the offensive side of the ball. The Bears found the back of the net twenty times in 2016, fifteen times in 2017 and twenty-six times in 2018 as compared to forty-three times in 2019. In 2019 the Bears had the offensive punch needed to come from behind as they did in their 2-1 win over Loyola Chicago and 3-2 win over Valparaiso and were able to win the close contests that eluded them in prior seasons.   

The question heading into the 2020 season is whether the Bears can come close to the level of productivity they had on the offensive side of the ball in 2019 without the services of All-American forward Matthew Bentley who burst onto the Division I scene last year at Missouri State after three seasons at Division II West Virginia Wesleyan College. The fifteen goals and six game-winners that Bentley provided last year and the positive impact he had on the tempo of Missouri State's offense will be difficult to replace.

Last year Bentley and current senior forward Josh Dolling (7g, 5a) who contributed five game-winners combined to give the Bears a tough combination for opponents to contain. Dolling, a three-year starter and 2019 United Soccer Coaches All-American, figures to be the trigger man in Missouri State's attack in 2020 as well as the focus of opposing defenders. It is possible that Missouri State will maintain the offensive firepower that they had last year even with the loss of Bentley but it's hard to envision that without Dolling having another big year and the emergence of another goal scorer or two to add balance to the offense. Juniors Nicolo Mulatero (2g, 1a) and Dawson Lee (1g, 2a) and sophomore Jon Koka are among other returning forwards who Missouri State may look to for offensive punch.

Some reloading is required in the midfield due to the graduation of Stuart Wilkin (5g, 4a) who was a pace setter and Ian Jones. Juniors Jack Denton (0g, 9a) and Aadne Bruseth (2g, 2a) and sophomore Kian Yari (0g, 1a) are among returning midfielders who should play key roles in 2020. Denton was a 2019 All-MVC Second Team selection who led the MVC in assists. Yari was a 2019 MVC All-Freshman selection. Redshirt sophomores Will Osgathorpe (1g, 2a) whose season was limited to nine contests last year due to injury and Zac Newdick who saw action in six contests are among other returning midfielders who will seek to play a greater role in 2020. Junior Nicolas Torres who transfers in from Iowa Western Community College is among several members of the recruiting class who should compete for playing time in the midfield.

Redshirt senior All-American Kyle Hiebert (1g, 2a), the 2019 MVC Defensive Player of the Year and a three-year starter returns to anchor what should again be a very solid backline. Seniors Connor Langan (0g, 2a), a three-year starter, and Greg Stratton (1g, 3a) are the other incumbent defenders who were a key part of a 2019 Missouri State defense that held opponents to a total of only thirteen goals. Redshirt junior Evan Degreeff, redshirt sophomore Sean Green, and sophomore Giacomo Sala are among other returning defenders who will be in the hunt for minutes. Junior transfer Sam Ottley from Division II Newberry College and freshmen Mattis Koch and Adrian Barosen are among the newcomers who should be in the mix for playing time in the back.

Redshirt Senior Michael Creek, the 2019 MVC Goalkeeper of the Year, returns between the pipes to anchor what should again be a very tenacious Bear defense. Creek is a very competent and experienced goalkeeper who has been the starter at Missouri State for the past three years.

There's plenty of optimism around Missouri State. The Bears made great strides last year with an offensive renaissnace that paved the way for a return trip to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009. Missouri State was ranked as the number eleven team in the country in the season ending College Soccer News Poll and as the number sixteen team in the season ending United Soccer Coaches Poll. The formula for success at Missouri State in 2020 is simple: Build on last year's opportunistic offense while maintaining a stout defense. An encore season with the level of success that the Bears had last year is contingent upon continued productivity and balance on both sides of the ball.     

Newcomers

Jesus Barea - Midfielder - Cadiz, Spain - Putnam Science Academy - Scored eight goals at Putnam Science Academy in 2019. Played for Cadiz CF for three years. 

Melvrik Fernandes - Midfielder - Orlando, Florida - Cypress Creek High School - Senior transfer who played for three seasons at Division II Alderson Broaddus. 2019 Second-Team All-Conference selection. Had forty-eight career appearances with a total of four goals. 

Mattis Koch - Defender - Berlin, Germany - Played for FC Union Berlin U-17 and U-19 teams. Team co-captain. 

Samuel Ottley - Defender - Telford, England - Junior transfer from Division II Newberry College where he appeared in thirty-one contests over the past two seasons. Played with Wolverhampton and Barnsley in England. 

Jack Stewart - Forward - Sydney, Australia - Oakhill College - Played in the National Premier League in Australia for the past five years. Played for Sydney Olympic FC last year where he scored four goals. Played for Blacktown City FC, Sydney FC and Sydney United. 

Nicolas Torres - Midfielder - Linares, Chile - Athletic Study Center - Junior transfer from Iowa Western Community College where he had fourteen assists and ten goals last year. Played for Barton Community College in 2018.

Henry Smith - Forward - Wigan, England - St. Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic High School - Played with Cardiff City FC U-23 team. Played for Everton FC.

Lorenzo Dentale - Midfielder - Peschiera del Garda, Italy - ITI Guglielmo Marconi - Played for ASD Villafranca in Italy's Serie D League where he started eighteen contests and appeared in twenty-six. Played for Hellas Verona Youth Academy.

Adrian Barosen - Defender - Bodo, Norway - Kongisvinger - Played for FK Bodo/Glimt and Kongsvinger in Norway.  

Ricardo Bustamante - Midfielder - Mexico City, Mexico - IMG Academy - Played for two years at IMG Academy. Named IMG Offensive Player of the Year.

Pablo Diaz - Midfielder - Madrid, Spain - Putnam Science Academy - Spent two years at Montverde Academy. MVP of the 2019 Montverde Academy Soccer Tournament.

Tyler Glasenapp - Goalkeeper - Medina, Ohio - Medina High School - Junior transfer from the University of Cincinnati where he took a redshirt season in 2018 and played in three contests in 2019. 

Caleb Suh - Forward - Brea, California - Connections Academy - Played for the LA Galaxy Development Academy where he started in ten of the fourteen games he appeard in as part of the U19/U19 team. Has played with LA Galaxy II in USL.

Miguel Tome - Midfielder - Pamplona, Spain - Miravalles - Played with CA Osasuna. 

Harry Townsend - Goalkeeper - Plymouth, U.K. - Wadebridge School - Played for Plymouth Argyle FC. Started fifty-two matches in goal for the U18 team. 


 

   

Clemson Adds Strong Ten Member Recruiting Class. Tigers Will Be Tough To Beat In 2020

Clemson has some big shoes to fill but don't expect a drop off in the level of their play in 2020. The Tigers will again field a cohesive team with a fast paced multi-dimensional attack that will be difficult for opponents to contain and a defense that should be very stout.  

Departures and Gaps - Clemson will be without the services of forward Robbie Robinson (18g, 9a) who elected to forgo his senior season to enter the professional ranks. Robinson was the winner of the prestigious MAC Hermann Trophy, a First Team All-America selection, the Atlantic Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year, and the number one overall pick in the 2020 MLS Draft. Departures due to graduation include 2019 All-American defender Malick Mbaye (3g, 1a) who was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and a four-year starter, midfielder Tanner Dieterich (3g, 10a) who was a 2019 All-ACC Second Team selection and four-year starter, and forward Adrian Nunez (3g, 4a) who had nine goals during his two-year tenure at Clemson.

Opportunities for Improvement - Consistency on the defensive side of the ball. Clemson's ability to put in a full ninety minute shift on the defensive side of the ball without lapses in play will be a key factor in the level of success the program has in 2020.  

Summary - Clemson had a huge bounce back season last year in which they were 18-2-2, recorded the most wins in program history since the 2001 season, lead the country with an average of 3.18 goals per game, and advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. The success the program enjoyed in 2019 made the 2018 season in which the Tiger's string of five consecutive berths in the NCAA Tournament came to an end with a 7-9-1 record seem like a long time ago.  Clemson went from a season in 2018 in which they scored a total of twenty-three goals and allowed a total of twenty-five to a season in 2019 in which they scored a total of seventy goals and allowed a total of twenty-one. 

Clemson is a top tier program with a team oriented mindset and winning culture under the guidance of head coach Mike Noonan. Regardless things can shift significantly between seasons in the highly competitive Atlantic Coast Conference where the level of parity makes the difference between a great season and a disappointing one very slim. Accordingly, any analysis of Clemson heading into the 2020 campaign has to begin with the fact that the Tigers have some big shoes to fill due to the departure of All-American forward Robbie Robinson, midfielder Tanner Dieterich who was a four-year starter, and All-American defender Malick Mbaye who was a four-year starter. All three were difference makers who played a key role in Clemson's eighteen win season and impressive 6-1-1 mark in Atlantic Coast Conference play.  

While replacing them may not be easy, the overall talent level at Clemson looks to be just as good in 2020 as it was in 2019. In addition, the Tigers have added a recruiting class that will add depth and create competition for playing time which is always a good thing. From a personnel standpoint, Clemson has fewer unanswered questions than they did this time last year. 

Robinson led the country with eighteen goals last year but Clemson was not a one-dimensional team offensively. The Tigers return enough firepower to again be very productive on the offensive side of the ball, maybe not 2019 productive, but nonetheless they will again have a very balanced and explosive attack. Simply put, Clemson will be a difficult team to contain in the attacking third. Senior All-American Kimarni Smith (13g, 5a) and sophomores Mohamed Seye (5g, 5a), James Brighton (6g, 2a) are all very capable finishers who fit in nicely with Clemson's fast paced attack oriented system of play. Sophomore forward Chris Matlashewski who took a redshirt season last year due to injury is among other forwards with the potential to add another dimension to the attack in 2020. 

The midfield looks to be deep and talented. Sophomore playmakers Philip Mayaka (2g, 8a), a 2019 All-ACC First Team selection, and junior Grayson Barber (10g, 9a), a 2019 All-ACC Second Team member, are among returming midfielders who add additional punch to the offense. Juniors Felipe Fernandez (1g, 5a) and Quinn McNeill (1g, 0a) and sophomore Alvara Gomez (2g, 3a) are among other returning linkmen who played key roles last year. Juniors Stirling Russel (0g, 1a) and John Martin and sophomore Dylan Sullivan round out what looks to be a deep contingent of returning midfielders. Graduate Student Callum Johnson who transfers in from Boston College where he scored eight goals and contributed ten assists during three seasons is among the members of the recruiting class who should have an immediate impact in the midfield.  

Clemson's fast paced style of play and their ability to push numbers forward depends on solid play and organization on the defensive side of the ball. The departure of Mbaye and Dieterich necessitates some reloading but with the talent returning in the back and in goal the Tiger defense should again be tough, physical and determined. Defenders senior Justin Malou (0g, 5a), a three-year starer, junior Charlie Asensio (0g, 1a), a two-year starter, and sophomore Oskar Agren (1g, 4a), a 2019 ACC All-Freshman Team selection, are among returning starters in the back. Sophomore Isaiah Reid is among other returning backs who look to be in the hunt for additional minutes in 2020. Junior George Marks, a 2019 All-ACC Second Team selection with a 0.91 goals against average in 2019, returns to give the Tigers a very capable, experienced and composed shot stopper between the pipes.  

Clemson will again be up against a very tough slate of ACC opponents but there is much to like about the construction of the Tigers in 2020. The impact of the departures does inject some uncertainty heading into the season but with so much experienced talent returning, it is highly likely that Clemson will again be a contender for the ACC title and a high national ranking.  

Newcomers

Ousmane Sylla - Midfielder - Senegal - Montverde Academy - Played for the Soccer Institute at Montverde Academy.

Hamady Diop - Defender - Senegal - Montverde Academy - Played for the Soccer Institute at Montverde Academy. Team captain. Trained with Orlando City SC.

Tyler Hutchinson - Forward - Cliffside Park, New Jersey - Played for Barca Residency Academy. Played for Washington United and Net Gen USA.

Ben Erkens - Defender - Greenville, South Carolina - Wade Hampton High School - Played for CESA ECNL U-19. South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year. Member U.S. Youth Soccer Region III ODP. Allstate All-American. First Team All-State 5A in 2019. Played with Greenville Triumph SC in 2019. Scored thirty-six goals and contributed forty-nine assists in three seasons at Wade Hamption High School.

Josh Hallenberger - Midfielder - San Antonio, Texas - Played for Houston Dynamo Academy U-18/U-19 team.

Callum Johnson - Midfielder - New York, New York - Boston College - Graduate student transfer who played for three seasons at Boston College where he appeared in fifty-two contests with twenty-eight starts. Had eight goals and ten assists while at Boston College. Played for the New York Red Bulls Academy.

Trevor Manion - Goalkeeper - Phoenizville, Pennsylvania - Episcopal Academy - Played for Penn Fusion SA. Named the 2019 Daily Times Boys Soccer Player of the Year. All-Delaware County Player of the Year. First Team All Delaware County in 2018 and 2019. Had twenty-one shutouts at Episcopal Academy.

Brandon Parrish - Defender - Jackson, Tennessee - Fairview High School - Played for Darlington Academy. Named 2019 Tennessee Gatorade Boys Soccer Player of the Year. Two-time District 12-AA Player of the Year. All-State selection. Had thirty-eight goals and eleven assists last season at Darlington Academy. Had sixty-eight career goals and forty assists at Fairview High School.

Titus Sandy Jr. - Defender - Matthews, North Carolina - David W. Butler High School - Played for Charlotte Soccer Academy. Has appeared in over sixty contests for Charlotte Soccer Academy over the past three seasons.

Seth Wilson - Goalkeeper - Frisco, Texas - Played for FC Dallas Academy. Played for U.S. U-17 National Team. 


  

Campbell Adds Eleven Member 2020 Recruiting Class. Eight Starters Return From Banner 2019 Season.

Expectations are high at Campbell after back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the histroy of the program. The potential exists for another banner season in 2020 for a team that returns eight starters from the 2019 squad that was 17-3-2, tied the school record for wins, won the Big South Conference regular season and tournament titles, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. . 

Departures and Gaps - Losses due to graduation include center back Gideon Betz (0g, 1a) who was the 2019 Big South Defender of the Year and a four-time All-Big South Conference selection, midfielder Ian Rees (5g, 5a), a 2019 All Big-South Conference First Team selection, three-year starter and team captain, and forward Aigbekan Nosegbe (3g, 2a). Campbell will also be without midfielder Alemu Mercer-Miko (1g, 7a) during the 2020 season. 

Opportunities for Improvement - Merging a large eleven member recruiting class that includes six transfers in with a solid contingent of returning players provides the opportunity for a very deep team. It also can be problematic in terms of team chemistry. Others will have to step forward to replace the leadership and stability that Ian Rees and Gideon Betz provided. 

Coach's Recruiting Class Comment - Dustin Fonder stated, "The class has a nice blend of transfers and freshmen, and also of international and domestic players. We feel like we have some guys who can make immediate impacts and others that can develop into important roles down the line. We have established a championship culture on the field, in the classroom and in the community. Each of these newcomers will be held to that elite standard. We feel confident that they will all rise to that challenge and continue to pust or organization forward." 

Summary - Campbell made their presence known on the national scene last year with an explosive attack and solid play on the defensive side of the ball. The Fighting Camels will enter the 2020 season with an impressive core of players back on both sides of the ball and the momentum that accompanies a very successful 2019 season. It is reasonalbe to conclude that a berth in the NCAA Tournament is now an expectation at Campbell after back-to-back appearnaces in 2018 and 2019.

Campbell's top four goal scorers return from the 2019 team that averaged a total of 2.68 goals per contest. The big threat, but by no means the only weapon in the Fighting Camels attack, is senior All-American forward Thibaut Jacquel who was the 2019 Big South Attacking Player of the Year. Jacquel had a spectacular 2019 season during which he was responsible for eighteen of the fifty-nine goals Campbell scored with seven game-winning goals and five multi-goal contests.

While the Fighting Camels have several capable goal scorers, opponents that are unable to contain Jacquel will have a difficult time topping Campbell. Senior Alex Egeonu (6g, 3a) who has been a force off the bench for the past three seasons and redshirt sophomore Jalen James (3g, 2a), a 2019 Big South All-Freshman selection, are among other returning forwards who should add additional punch to the offense in 2020. Junior Daneil Hernandez, a transfer from Central Methodist University where he was a two-time NAIA All-American, is among the newcomers with the ability to add additional firepower up-top. 

The midfield will require some rebuilding due to the graduation of Ian Rees, the MVP of the 2019 Big South Tournament, who was a team catalyst and leader. Junior Matt Lock (6g, 7a), a playmaker who was a 2019 Second Team All-Big South Conference selection, returns to add another potent ingredient to the offense and help set the pace for the team either up-top or in the midfield. Senior Humberto Chavez (0g, 1a), a three-year starter, senior holding midfielder George Bediko (0g, 1a), junior Eren Elbustu (6g, 4a) and junior Caleb Martinez (1g, 1a) round out a solid contingent of returning linkmen. The recruiting class includes several experienced midfielders who should compete for a starting job and add depth. 

The Fighting Camels will miss the stabity that defender Gideon Betz, a four-year starter, brought to the backline. The good news is that a solid necleus returns from the Campbell defense that had a 0.752 goals-against-average last year. Sophomore left back Moses Mensah, the Big South 2019 Freshman of the Year and a College Soccer News All-Freshman Team selection, junior right back Franck Momo (0g, 6a) and sophomore center back Bissafi Dotte (2g, 0a) who were starters last year return in 2020 with the advantage of a season working together. All three were 2019 First Team All-Big South selections who established last year that that could get the job done. Senior back Dylan Sadler (3g, 1a) who appeared in fifteen contests last year with four starts also figures to be in the mix. Junior transfer defender Jamie Lamb from Purdue Fort Wayne is among several members of the recruiting class who should compete for playing time in the back. Senior Samuel Lechuga, a 2019 All-Big South Second Team selection with nine shutouts last year, returns to anchor the defense in goal.

Campbell returned to the national rankings last year for the first time since the 2008 season. The Fighting Camels were ranked as the number twenty-four team in the season ending United Soccer Coaches poll and as the number twenty-six team in the final College Soccer News season ending poll.

It can be difficult for a team from a mid-major conference to play their way into the national rankings. Campbell did it last year with a fifteen game unbeaten streak that included a 1-1 tie with North Carolina, two wins over conference foe High Point, and a 3-1 win over James Madison in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Based on their success last year and the talent that is returning on both sides of the ball, Campbell should begin the 2020 season with a national ranking. They also will be the team to beat in the Big South Conference. Maintaining a national ranking can be more difficult than chasing it. Clearly no one is going to look past the Fighting Camels in 2020. The success that they enjoyed last year will ensure that they will draw everyone's best shot.

Chances are pretty good that the success the program enjoyed last year will whet the appetite of the returning players for more of the same in 2020. Campbell's standing on the national scene as well as their ability to secure the Big South regular season and tournament titles will likely hinge on the consistency of their play, the ability of the coaching staff to merge the newcomers in with the returning players, and whether or not the focus and team chemistry exists to take it one game at a time.  

Newcomers

Gerard Broussard - Forward - Midlothian, Virginia - St. Christopher's - A United Soccer Coaches All-Mid-Atlantic Regional All-American. VISAA All-State First Team. Scored thirty goals and contributed ten assists as a senior at St. Christopher's. Played club with FC Richmond.

Daniel Hernandez - Forward - Bogota, Columbia - Central Mehodist University - A junior transfer from Central Methodist University where he was a two-time First Team All-American. Named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player at the 2019 NAIA national championship. Scored seventeen goals and had eleven assists as a sophomore. Scored twenty goals and had sixteen assists as a freshman. Played club for Deportivo Fair Play.

Hunter Johnson - Goalkeeper - Southern Pines, North Carolina - Pinecrest High School - All-Conference and All-Region selection at Pinecrest High School. Had a 0.81 goals-against-average and thirteen shutouts during his senior season. Played club with the NC Fusion ECNL.

Diego Konincks - Midfielder - Montfort, The Netherlands - Midland University - Sophomore transfer from NAIA member Midland University where he started twenty contests as a freshman in 2019. Second Team All-Great Plains Athletic Conference selection. Scored three goals and contributed six assists at Midland in 2019. 

Jamie Lamb - Defender - Auckland, New Zealand - Purdue Fort Wayne - Junior transfer from Purdue Fort Wayne where he started a total of thirty-six games during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Played for the Dayton Dutch in USL2 in 2018. 

Owne Mikoy - Defender - Atlanta, Georgia - Fayette County - Scored a total of fifty-seven goals in three seasons at Fayette County High School. Named Region 3-5A Player of the Year. Played for the AFC Lightning. 

Jake Morris - Midfielder - Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Tyler JC - Junior transfer from Tyler JC where he played in forty-five games over the last two years. Scored twelve goals and contributed eight assists at Tyler Junior College. A U.S. U-19 National Team member. Played club with Seattle Sounders and Weston FC. 

Alec Nguyen - Midfielder - Tucson, Arizona - Pima Community College - Junior transfer from Pima CC where he played in forty-five games and scored fourteen goals and contributed eight assists over the past two years. Joined the program in the spring semester. 

Manuel Prieto - Midfielder - Dalton, Georgia - Dalton High School - Scored five goals and added twelve assists during his senior season at Dalton High School. Had fourteen goals and thirteen assists as a junior. Played for the Chattanooga Red Wolves Academy. 

Damian Rogers - Midfielder - Orange Park, Florida - Oakleaf High School - First Team All-County selection as a senior at Oakleaf High School. Played club for Clay County SC. 

Aldo Tarantini - Midfielder - Caracas, Venezuela - Bellaire High School - Appalachian State - A junior transfer from Appalachian State where he appeared in thirty-two contests with eleven starts over the past two seasons. Played for Houston FC in 2018 and 2019. First Team All-District selection at Bellaire High School.


 

 

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