2020 Team Reviews

2020 Team and Recruiting Class Reviews

Akron Adds Four Early Newcomers. Zips Return Eight Starters.

Akron's run of seven consecutive MAC Tournament titles and twelve consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament came to an unexpected end last year with a 6-10-2 overall record and 4-0-1 mark in MAC play when the Zips were upset 1-0 in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament. 

Departures and Gaps - Departures due to graduation include midfielder Skye Harter, a 2018 All-MAC First Team selection who was hampered by injury in 2019, starting defender Christian Lue Young (1g, 2a), defender Tom Smart who appeared in eight contests and defender Leonard Sohn who played in eleven matches.  Akron will also be without starting goalkeeper Tor Saunders who had a 1.39 goals against average who transfered to Coastal Carolina and midfielder Mani Austmann who transferred to UNCG.  

Opportunities for Improvement - For the second year in a row Akron began the season slowly. In 2018 the Zips began the year with a 1-3-1 record but they pulled together and rebounded to close out the season with a nine game winning streak that carried them all the way to the national championship final. Last year they began the season with a 0-0-7 record and didn't record their first win until October. Akron played well enough in October to secure the regular season MAC title but they never fully gelled as a team on either side of the ball.  

Coach's Recruiting Class Comment - Jared Embick stated, "We are excited about the incoming players for the spring. We wanted to add a group of players that will come in and compete right away and have a strong mentality. All these players are strong on the ball and have a competitive mindset."

Summary - Akron began the 2019 season with a challenging schedule in which success would have to be hard-earned. But who would have thought that an Akron team that advanced to the College Cup in 2019 would not secure a win until October. During the seven seasons that Jared Embick has been the Akron head coach, the Zips have posted the highest winning percentage in the country but it's fair to say that they were near the top of the list of teams that didn't play to their potential last year. True, they won the regular season MAC title and yes, the MAC has become a much more balanced conference but this is a program for which a berth in the NCAA Tournament and a deep run in it has become the norm.

The 2019 season is now in the rearview mirror. It's time to look at the bright side heading into the 2020 season which is the fact that Akron returns a lot of very talented and capable players. The Zips have a winning culture and Embick has established that he knows what it takes to win at the highest levl.  As a result there are plenty of reasons to be cautiously optimistic that Akron will bounce back in 2020. 

Senior forward David Egbo (7g, 4a), a 2019 All-MAC First Team selection, returns to give Akron a top notch finisher. Sophomore Will Jackson (4g, 3a), a 2019 All-MAC Second Team member, adds another dimenison to the attack up-top. Junior Federico Serra (0g, 1a) who appeared in fourteen contests last year is among other returning forwards who should contribute.

Senior and team captain Daniel Strachan (1g, 1a), a 2019 All-MAC Second Team honoree and three-year starter returns to add stability to the midfield along with junior Colin Biros (2g, 1a), a 2019 All-MAC First Team member and two-year starter, junior Sam Tojaga (1g, 1a) and redshirt senior Diogo Pacheco (2g, 2a) who was slowed by injury last year. Sophomores Henrique Cruz (0g, 2a) who appeared in twelve games with seven starts last year, Johnny Fitzgerald, and Joey Paulus are among other returning midfielders who will challenge for additional minutes in the midfield in 2010.

The backline has the potential to be very good with juniors Carlo Ritaccio (0g, 1a), a two-time First Team All-MAC selection, Pol Hernandez (0g, 4a) and Marco Milanese (1g, 0a) slated to return. Ritaccio, Hernandez and Milanese have been starters for the past two seasons. Redshirt junior Declan Watters who appeared in thirteen contests last year with four starts and sophomore Jaden Wright who participated in nine contests with two starts are among other very capable returning backs who will be in the hunt for a greater role in 2020.

Redshirt freshmen Cameron Victor and Grant Abbott who did not see action last year are among returning goalkeepers who will battle for the crucial starting job between the pipes. Akron's recruiting class which has not yet been annouched will also likely include an additional netminder or two who will also be in the mix. 

The 2020 season could be a season of tremendous progress for the Zips if the following occurs: (1) the 2019 campaign serves as a wake up call that results in a cohesive and focused team from the get-go; (2) The midfield is able to consistently get the best of the run of play in the middle third and get the ball to the feet of Egbo and Jackson among others up-top: (3) Egbo and Jackson and others are able to finish the scoring opportunities that come their way and add the spark to the attack that forward Marcel Zajac did in 2018: (4) the backline of Ritaccio, Hernandez and Milanese play to their potential; and (5) The recruiting class gives the Zips the lift and creates the level of competition that the current juniors did as freshmen.  

The bottom line is that Akron will be talented and experienced in 2020 but put simply they underachieved as a team last year. So the question is: Can they merge their individual talents together in 2020, as they did down the homestretch of the 2018 season, so that the whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts?    


Ryan Combe - Midfielder - York, Maine - Northwood School - Played with Black Rock FC Residential Academy, Barca Academy and D.C. United.

Gabriel Ramos - Midfielder - Campinas, Brazil - Colegio Da Villa - Played with Raca Sport Club U-19 in 2018 and A.A Ponte Preta Academy from 2012-2017. Trained with the Manchester City Football Academy in 2017.

Jordan Seaman - Defender - Stow, Ohio -   Stow Monroe Falls HIgh School - Played with the Internationals Academy where he was a four-year team captain. 

Hazem Sohby - Midfielder - Cairo, Egypt - American International - A transfer from Ottawa University in Surprise, Arizona where he played in fifty-four contests with forty-eight starts. He socred six goals and contributed eight assists at Ottawa University.


Syracuse Has Gaps To Fill On The Offensive Side Of The Ball. Transfers Could Make Immediate Impact

Syracuse will be without its top three goals scorers including Ryan Raposo who departed early to enter the professional ranks. Ian McIntyre has reloaded quickly and seamlessly in the past by using transfers to help fill the gaps.  

Departures and Gaps - Forward Ryan Raposo (15g, 7a), a 2019 All-ACC First Team selection, signed a Generation adidas contract with MLS at the conclusion of his sophomore season and was was the fourth overall pick by Vancover FC. Departures due to graduation include forwards Massimo Ferrin (7g, 9a) who was a two-year starter and Severin Soerlie (4g, 4a), midfielder Brian Hawkins, and defenders Nyal Higgins (1g, 1a) who was the number nineteen pick in the MLS SuperDraft, John-Austin Ricks (0g, 2a) and Mickey Watson, and backup goalkeeper Jake Leahy.  

Opportunities for Improvement - Tighten up on the defensive side of the ball. Last year Syracuse allowed a total of thirty-three goals. That is the most goals that the Orange has allowed in a single season in the ten years that Ian McIntyre has been the head coach. You have to go back to the 2009 season to find a Syracuse defense that allowed more goals than that. The Orange scored a total of forty-one goals last year. At first glance a ratio of forty-one goals scored to thirty-three allowed looks pretty good but a deeper dive into the data shows that eleven of Syracuse's goals came in a filler contest against SUNY Morrisville.  Without those eleven goals the Orange would have allowed more goals than they scored last year for the first time since 2011.   

Coach's Recruiting Class Comment - Ian McIntyre stated in regard to the four players who joined the Syracuse program in the spring, "We have added quality, character and important leadership to our squad with the introduction of Matt (McDonnell), Manel (Busquets), Roque (Viegas), and Nathan (Toledo). Each of these talented young men will take great pride in representing our Syracuse program. They will tremendously help our continuous efforts to improve both on and ott the soccer pitch".   

Summary - The challenge of filling a gap due to the early departure of a player to enter the professional ranks has become the norm rather than the excepetion for Ian McIntyre. For the past six seasons Syracuse has had to fill a void due to the early departure of a key player who signed a Generation adidas contract. In the last five cases the player has departed at the conclusion of their sophomore season.

Syracuse will enter the 2020 season with the task of filling the void that exists due to the departure of forward and go-to guy Ryan Raposo who powered the Orange attack in 2019 with fifteen goals. Prior Generation adidas departures were forward Tajon Buchanon, midfielder Mo Adams, defender Miles Robinson, midfielder Julian Buescher, and goalkeeper Alex Bono.  

Syracuse will enter the 2020 season with more than the usual amount of uncertainty on the offensive side of the ball due to the loss of Roposo and forwards Massimo Ferrin (7g, 3a) and Severin Soerlie (4g, 4a). Had Roposo not left early, the picture on the offensive side of the ball would be much different. As a result new playmakers will need to emerge to power the attack as Raposo did last year and Buchanon the year before.  

Sophomore forward Luther Archimede (4g, 1a), senior defender Sondre Norheim (4g, 0a) who adds an additional dimension to the attack out of free kicks, and senior midfielder Simon Triantafillou (2g, 3a) are the top returning goal scorers. Junior midfielder Hilli Goldhar (1g, 6a) is the top returning assists man.

Graduate student foward Matt McDonnell, a transfer from Boston University who scored twenty goals and contributed ten assists, junior midfielder Manel Busquets, a transfer from Duquesne University where he netted eleven goals and contriubted seven assists, and sophomore midfielder Roque Viegas Jr, a transfer from Monroe College who scored fourteen goals with ten assists last year, are among the newcomers that Syracuse has announced to date who could help fill the void on the offensive side of the ball. All of the transfers have solid credentials but how well and how quickly they adjust to the level of competition in the Atlantic Coast Conference remains to be seen.   

Sophomore Amferny Sinclair (1g, 0a) and junior Julio Fulcar (0g, 1a) along with Goldhar and Triantafillou (2g, 3a) are returning midfielders who were starters last year who figure to play prominent roles in 2020. Senior Dylan McDonald and sophomore Noah Singelmann (1g, 0a) join Norheim to give the Orange a solid core of experieced defenders to build upon. Junior goalkeeper Christian Miesch, the starter between the pipes last year with a 1.67 goals against average and five shutouts, returns to anchor the defense.  

McIntyre annually does an excellent job of bringing on board a recruiting class that addresses both immediate and longer term needs. He has leaned heaviliy on transfers at times to fill the gaps that exist and has done an excellent job of merging them in with returning players to create a unified team with a solid work ethic. The result should be another exciting but at this point uncertain season at Syracuse. 


Matt McDonnell - Forward - Smithtown, New York - Smithtown West High School - Graduate student transfer from Boston University where he played in fifty-six games with a total of twenty goals and ten assists. Two-time team captain. Scored seven goals in 2019. 2019 All-Patriot League Second Team selection. 2018 All-Patriot League Selection with a total of six goals despite playing in only five games. 2017 All-Patriot League Third Team selection. Played for Smithtown Arsenal. 

Nathan Toledo - Defender - Frisco, Texas - Lone Star High School - Member of the USSDA FC Dallas U-19 team. Team captain. Best XI Central Conference selection. 

Manel Busquets - Midfielder - Barcelona, Spain - Escola pia caldes de montbui - Junior transfer from Dusquene. 2019 All-Atlantic 10 First Team selection. Scored seven goals and contributed four assists. A-10 All-Rookie Team selection in 2018. Scored four goals with three assists in 2018.

Roque Viegas - Midfielder - Sao Paulo, Brazil - XV de Outubro - Sophomore transfer from Monroe College which won the 2019 NJCAA Division I Championship. Scored fourteen goals and added twelve assists in 2019.  Member of the Region XV All-Region Team. 2019 United Soccer Coaches All-North Region Second Team. 

James Madison Reloading In 2020. Newcomers Will Have The Opportunity To Make An Impact

The Dukes have momentum after claiming their second consecutive CAA championship and berth in the NCAA Tournament last year but they will enter the 2020 season will the challenge of filling some very significant shoes due to graduation. 

Departures and Gaps - Departures due to graduation include forwards Brennan Burton (2g, 3a) who was a 2019 All-CAA Second Team selection and Lewis Long IV (1g, 2a), attacking midfielder Manuel Ferriol (16g, 6a) who was a College Soccer News All-American and the 2019 CAA Player of the Year, defensive midfielder Fernando Casero who was a 2019 All-CAA First Team selection, midfielder Tim Estermann (1g, 1a) and defenders Brandon Clegg (0g, 1a), a 2019 All-CAA Second Team selection, Niclas Mohr (2g, 4a), and Shaun McKenna.  

Opportunity for Improvement - The Dukes margin for error in 2020 may be small. They will have to avoid the costly letdowns that occurred at times last year. ln three of their losses in 2019 and in one of their ties, they uncharacteristically allowed three goals placing themselves in a hole that they were unable to dig out of.

Summary - The cupboard is far from bare at James Madison but there are a lot of unanswered questions heading into the 2020 season due to the loss of a very productive eight member 2019 senior class.

The first and most pressing question is who will replace the offensive firepower that All-American and CAA Player of the Year Manuel Ferriol provided. Ferriol was responsible for sixteen of the thirty-six goals that the Dukes scored last year including six game winners. Redshirt senior forward Carson Jeffris, sophomore forwards Clay Obara (1g, 5a) and Dennis Mensah (4g, 0a) and junior midfielder Tyler Glegg (4g, 2a) are among the most likely suspects to power the attack in 2020. However, more likely than not, it will be offense by committee at JMU in 2020 without a single dominant goal scorer like Ferriol who set a new single season points record for the Dukes last year.

A healthy Jeffris, who scored eight goals and contributed four assists in 2018 but was slowed by injury last year and never got fully untracked, has the potential to be a difference maker. Obara was a 2019 All-CAA Second Team selection and the 2019 Gatorade Virgina Boys Soccer Player of the Year out of Frank W. Cox High School. Mensah saw action in nineteen games last year. Both Obara and Mensah are goal scorers who now have the advantage of a year of experience at JMU under their belts. Clegg, a 2019 Third Team All-CAA selection, is a playmaker who participated in twenty-one contests last year with eight starts.

Redshirt senior Max Poelker who missed most of the 2019 season due to injury is among other returning forwards who look to be in the mix in 2020. Senior Petur Thorsteinsson (2g, 1a) and junior Connor Hester (0g, 1a) look to join Clegg as key members of the midfield. Senior Steve Foss and sophomores Evan Paez (0g, 1a), Sloan Sullivan and Ethan Del Hierro are among other returning linkmen who will likely be in the hunt for a greater role in 2020.

Senior back Thomas Judge (1g, 1a), a 2019 All-CAA First Team selection and two-year starter, and junior back Melker Anshelm (1g, 0a), a 2019 All-CAA Second Team member and two-year starter, return to provide a solid necleus upon which to build the backline. Both are athletic and physical ball winners. Sophomore Prince Loney-Bailey who played in ten contests last year is among other returning backs who figure to be in the mix in 2020.

Redshirt senior TJ Bush, a multi-year All-CAA First Team selection with three-years of starting experinece under his belt, returns in goal to anchor the defense. Bush is among the best shot stoppers in the country and will no doubt play a key role in the degree of success that the Dukes have in 2020. Senior Alex Desatnick who played in two games last year is among other returning netminders. 

James Madison's streak of two consecutive CAA championships and NCAA Tournament berths could be in danger in 2020. The good news is that the departures due to graduation create the opportunitity for others to play a greater role and they, along with Palul Zazenski and his staff, seem to embrace the challenge in front of them. The bottom line is that it is difficult at this point to label JMU as the frontrunner in the CAA but it would also be premature and foolish to count them out.      


Josiah Blanton - Defender - Roswell, Georgia - Roswell HIgh School - Played for Concorde Fire SC. 

Mason Christian - Forward - Fulton, Maryland - McDonough School - Played for Baltimore Armour. 

Nathaniel Corley - Midfielder - Ashburn, Virginia - Played for Virginia Development Academy. 

Jordan McMillen - Defender - Fairfax, Virginia - The Heights School - Played for BRYC Elite Academy. Region I ODP Team. 

Ethan Taylor - Forward - Virginia Beach, Virginia - Kellam High School - Played for Virginia Rush.  All-Tidewater selection. 

Demitri Turner - Midfielder - Lorton, Virginia - South County High School - Played for Braddock Road 02 Elite.  

Alex Krakowiak - Defender - Toronto, Canada - Played for Toronto FC Academy. 


Stanford Adds Solid Recruiting Class To Talented Contingent Of Returning Players

Stanford has plenty of talent, experience and depth. They will be very good again in 2020 if everyone stays healthy and they get the kind of improvement expected from the young players who performed well last year.  

Departures and Gaps - Departures due to graduation include two-time All-American center back Tanner Beason (5g, 1a) who was a four-year starter, midfielder Derek Waldeck(4g, 8a) who was a 2018 and 2019 First-Team All-Pac-12 selection and three-year starter, and midfielder Jared Gilbey (0g, 6a) who was a four-year starter and 2018 and 2019 All-Pac-12 Second Team selection. Anytime Stanford has to replace a talented and experienced center back as they do in 2020, the replacement must establish early own that they can handle the physicality. 

Opportunity for Improvement - The Cardinal showed a lot of grit in coming from behind in several games last year but they also placed themselves in a hole and difficult situation at times when they came out flat and allowed their opponent to score early.  

Summary - Redshirt junior Zach Ryan (6g, 2a) and sophomores Ousseni Bouda (5g, 5a) and Gabe Segal (6g, 0a) return up-top to power what should be a potent Cardinal attack in 2020. Ryan is a two-year starter. Bouda was the 2019 All Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. Segal is a dangerous finisher who also had an impressive freshman season. Senior forwards Arda Bulut (2g, 0a) who appeared in twenty-two contests last year and Jack O'Brien who saw action in nine games also figure to be in the mix in 2020.

The departure of Derek Waldeck (4g, 5a), a three-year starter, and Jared Gilbey (0g, 6a), a four-year starter, necessitates some reloading in the midfield heading into the 2020 campaign. A solid contingent of midfielders return including seniors Charlie Wehan (3g, 2a) who has been a starter the past two seasons and Marc Joshua (1g, 0a), juniors Will Richmond (1g, 0a), Ryan Ludwick and Kyle Casey, and sophomore Cam Cilley who now has the benefit of a year of starting experience under his belt.

The biggest question mark heading into 2020 is in the back due to the leadership void that exists due to the the graduation of All-American Tanner Beason. Beason's impact and contribution was evident last year during the eight conference contests in which he was out of the lineup due to injury. Senior Logan Panchot (0g, 8a), a 2019 All-Pac-12 Second Team selection, returns to add stability to the backline along with sophomore Keegan Hughes (0g, 1a) who was a 2019 College Soccer News All-Freshman First Team selection and sophomore Keegan Tingey (0g, 1a). The experience that Hughes and Tingey gained last year should help offset the departure of Beason. Redshirt junior defender Andrew Aprahamian who participated in eleven contests last year is among other returning players who look to be in the hunt for a greater role in 2020.

Redshirt junior All-American Andrew Thomas returns to anchor the Stanford defense in goal. Thomas, an engineering physics major with a 3.94 grade point average, a 0.72 goals against average, and eight shutouts last year is a prime time shot stopper who seems to thrive under pressure. Redshirt sophomore Matt Frank who appeared in three games last year is among several other talented returning netminders.

Stanford was 14-3-5 last year and advanced to the College Cup (Final Four) for the fourth time in the last five years. Their credentials include national championships in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Stanford's trademark under head coach Jeremy Gunn has been solid team defense, an opportunistic offense, and effectiveness through clincial delivery and finishes out of set pieces. It is highly likely that the Cardinal will again excell in each of those areas in 2020.

Last year freshmen played a key role early on and continuted to improve as the season progressed. They quickly adjusted to the college game and to Stanford's style of play which can not always be counted upon. As a result, chances are pretty good that the current sophomores will follow up with the bump in performance that usually occurs between freshmen and sophomore years.

If everyone who is expected to return does so and remains healthy there will be no shortage of experienced talent at Stanford in 2020. In addition the recruiting class should add depth. The bottom line is that a talented group of finishers return to bolster Stanford's offensive arsenal, and enough size and experience returns in the back to enable the Cardinal to continue to play an aggressive, disciplined and sufficating style of defense. There is a lot to like about Stanford in 2020. Like every team, a lot of things have to fall into place but if they do Stanford has a good chance of winning the Pac-12 title and once again playing their way into the College Cup.  


Noah Adnan - Defender - Gaithersburg, Maryland - Played for Bethesda SC. 

Ryan Dunn - Defender - Huntersville, North Carolina - Played for Charlotte Independence SC. 

Connor Evans - Midfielder - Portland, Oregon - Played for Portland Timbers Academy. 

Eliot Jones - Goalkeeper - New Britan, Connecticut - Played for New England Revolution.  U.S. Youth National Team experience. United Soccer Coaches Youth Boys All-Central Region Team selection. 

Conner Maurer - Midfielder - Harrison, New Jersey - General Douglas MacArthur High School - Played for New York Red Bulls 

Layton Purchase - Midfielder - Denver, Colorado - Kent Denver High School - Played for Real Colorado. 


North Carolina Will Add A Talented Recruiting Class. Tar Heels Seek To Rebound In 2020

North Carolina will seek to rebound from a 7-7-4 season in which they were absent from the NCAA Tournament field ior the first time in the nine seasons that Carlos Somoano, the active leader in winning percentage among Division I head coaches, has been at the helm of the program. It was an unexpected turn of events for a program that has been in the tourney field for nineteen out of the last twenty-one years and consistently ranked among the top ten teams in the country. 

Departures and Gaps - Losses due to graduation include midfielders Mauricio Pineda (5g, 2a) a 2018 and 2019 All-ACC First Team member and four-year starter, Jack Skahan (3g, 5a) a 2019 All-ACC selection and three-year starter, and Jeremy Kelly (0g, 4a) a 2019 All-ACC selection and three-year starter, and forward Jelani Peters (7g, 2a) who was a three-year starter. 

Opportunity for Improvement - The Tar Heels had trouble closing out games. Their 3-2 loss at home to Duke in which they were up 2-0 and 4-3 loss to Syracuse in which the Orange scored three unanswered goals were examples.  North Carolina only allowed more that one goal in one contest in 2018 (a 2-1 loss to James Madison in the NCAA Tournament). In 2019 they allowed opponents to score two goals or more in five contests. They lost four of those contests and tied one.

Summary - Things have been a little surreal recently in Chapel Hill. Who would have thought that the soccer team under Carlos Somoano and the basketball team under Roy Williams would have down years. On the other hand, the Tar Heel football squad under the direction of new head coach Mack Brown improved from 2-9-0 in 2018 to a respectable 7-6-0 in 2019 with a season ending momentum building win in a bowl game.  The goods news if you are among the Tar Heel faithful is that both the UNC soccer program under Somoano and the basketball team under Williams are among the premier programs in the country with winning cultures so the likelyhood that they will not bounce back is pretty slim. .

The turning point in North Carolina's season last year came in their 4-3 loss to Syracuse during regular season play when they allowed the Orange to score three unaswered goals in the last twenty minutes of play. The Tar Heels entered that contest with a 7-2-2 overall record and 3-1-1 mark in ACC play. They were nationally ranked and looked to be a sure bet for a berth in the NCAA Tournament. However, from that point forward they were 0-5-2 including a 1-1 tie with Campbell and a 1-0 loss to Appalachian State in non-conference play to close out the year with a 7-7-4 oveall record and  3-5-0 mark in ACC play. It was an unexpected and frustrating turn of events for a UNC team that has been a staple in the NCAA Tournament and entered the 2019 campaign as the preseason favortie to win the ACC title. The Tar Heels affirmed the old adage that the margin for error in college soccer, particularly in Atlantic Coast Conference play, is very slim and that things can change signficantly not only between but within seasons. 

The Tar Heels will enter the 2020 season without several key pieces including three of their top goal scorers from the 2019 team due to graduation and will have to replace several experienced playmakers but there is no need for panic in Chapel Hill. A solid, although less experienced, necleus returns and Somoano, who is 128-37-26 as the UNC head coach, will bring on board an impressive recruiting class that will create the kind of competition for jobs that makes everyone better.  Look for North Carolina to regain the balance and confidence needed for their possession oriented offense to apply the pressure required to create scoring opportunities while maintaining the organization and stability needed on the defensive side of the ball. A case could be made that the Tar Heel defense has been so good in the past that it covered up any problems on the offensive side of the ball, but that luxary didn't exist down the homestretch last year. 

Seniors Alex Rose (7g, 2a) and Giovanni Montesdeoca return to power the Tar Heel attack up-top. Rose was UNC's leading goal scorer last year and Montesdeoca who missed the 2019 season due to injury was their leading goal scorer in 2018. The loss of Montesdeoca last year took a big bite out of the Tar Hell attack. The productivity of Rose and and a now healthy Montesdeoca and the emergence of a few additional playmakers to add balance to the attack look to be the X-Factors in the Tar Heel offense in 2020. Senior Santiago Herrera (3g, 0a) who transferred in last year from UCLA and sophomore Jonathan Jimenez (2g, 0a) are among other returning forwards who are very capable finishers. 

Senior Raul Aguilera (1g, 2a) returns to set the pace in the midfield.  The return of junior Lucas del Rosario (0g, 1a) who missed a large portion of the 2019 season due to injury is a big plus. Juniors Milo Garvanian (0g, 1a) and Antonio Lopez (1g, 1a) and sophomores Sebastian Berhalter and Cameron Fisher (1g, 0a) also return to give North Carolina a solid contingent of returning midfielders.

The backline and play in goal should be team strengths in 2020 based on the level of experience returning. Seniors Mark Salas and Matt Constant and sophomores Blake Malone (1g, 0a) and Julian Hinojosa are among key returning backs who now have the benefit of a year of playing together. Junior Alec Smir who was the starter in goal last year with a 1.06 goals against average returns to anchor the Tar Heel defense. 

There is reason to be cautiously optimistic heading into the 2020 season with the duo of Rose and Montesdeoca providing punch to the offense and a solid contingent of experienced defenders returning. The midfield has the potential to be very good but there could be a learning curve due to the gaps that must be filled due to graduation. The newcomers may strengthen the midfield. All things considered, the chances are pretty good that UNC will get back on track in 2020. But for that to occur the things that went wrong on both sides of the ball down the homestretch last year will have to be addressed and go right in 2020. Specifically the defense must tighten up and play like the talented, experienced group that it is, and the offense will need to do a better job of creating and finishing scoring opportunities.   


Axel Alejandre - Defender - Chicago, Illinois -Played for FC United. Played for U.S. U-17 and U-15 National Teams. 

Yaya Bakayoko - Midfielder - New York, New York - Martin Luther King - Played for Manhattan S.C. High School All-American.  

Sammed Bawa - Freshman - Ashaiman, Ghana - The Taft School - High School All-American. A playmaker. Right to Dream Academy. . 

Akelm Clarke - Forward - Windsor, Connecticut - Loomis Chaffe School - Played for Black Rock FC

Garrett Kessel - Midfielder - Oak Ridge, North Carolina -  Northeast Guilford HIgh School - Played for North Carolina Fusion

Jonathan Sinclair - Midfielder - New York - Berkshire School - Played for F.A. Euro. Named the New England Soccer Journal Prep School Midfielder of the Year. 

Riley Thomas - Defender - Canton, Georgia - Played for United Futbol Academy. U.S. Soccer Academy East Best XI.  

UNCW Adds Eleven Newcomers. Seahawks Reloading In 2020.

Personnel losses due to graduation create substantive gaps that must be filled up-top and in the back in order for the Seahawks to be a player in the Colonial Athletic Association in 2020. The opportunity exists for others to play a greater role in 2020. UNCW's success could hinge in part on the bump in the level of play of the current sophomores who now have a year of experience under their belts and the contribution of the newcomers.  

Departures and Gaps - Departures due to graduation include forwards Phillip Goodrum (11g, 4a) and Mason Schuster (1g, 1a), midfielder Gabriel Cabral (3g, 3a) and defenders Danny Reynolds (4g, 5a), Mark Lindstrom (2g, 0a), Wilhelm Nilsson (2g, 0a) and Jamil Gracia (0g, 1a). Goodrum, Cabral, Lindstrom, and Reynolds were 2019 All-CAA First Team selections. Nilsson was a 2019 All-CAA Second Team member. Goodrum, Lindstrom and Gracia were four-year starters. Nilsson and Reynolds were two-year starters who transferred to UNCW as juniors. Cabral transferred to UNCW for his senior season. 

Opportunity for Improvement - Twenty-three of the thirty-two goals that the Seahawks scored last year were placed in the back of the net by departed seniors with Phillip Goodrum accounting for eleven of them. Five returning players scored last year but none scored more than two goals. A goal scorer or two will need to emerge to power the attack and fill the void that exists on the offensive side of the ball due to graduation. 

Coaches Recruiting Class Comment - Aidan Heaney stated, "Our recruiting class is one that will address some immediate needs we have as well as continue to add competition in all positions for us. We lost some experienced and talented players through graduation last year, a number of whom are now in the professional ranks, so we have worked diligently to recruit players who are excellent students and possess the work ethic needed to compete at the top levels of Division I soccer." 

Summary - UNCW entered the 2019 season with experienced players on board up-top and in the back but with question marks in goal and in the midfield. Fast forward a year to the present and the midfield and goal look to be in good shape but there are unanswered questions up-top and in the back. The Seahawks looked to be an NCAA Tournament level team last year. They began the season with unexpected losses to Georgia Southern and Stetson but rebounded to go 12-5-2 overall and won the regular season CAA title with a 7-0-1 mark in regular season play. However, a weak RPI and a heartbreaking 1-0 loss in overtime to James Madison in the CAA Tournament Final at home in which they had to play most of the contest a man down placed them on the wrong side of the bubble and kept them out of the field.

The departure of four All-CAA First Team selections and one All-CAA Second Team member means that expectations will be a little lower heading into the 2020 campaign than they were last year, but expectations are never very low at UNCW.    

One of the biggest challenges that UNCW faces heading into the 2020 season is replacing the offensive firepower that Phillip Goodrum provided. Goodrum, a three-time First Team All-CAA selection, finished a very successful tenure as one of only four players in school history to record back-to-back ten goal seasons. He started all seventy-six games in his college career and ranks fourth on the program's all-time list with thirty-two goals.

Sophomore Jalen Anderson (1g, 0a) who started the first six contests of the 2019 season before sustaining a season ending injury, sophomore Cannon Tootle (1g, 2a) who appeared in seventeen games last year with six starts, and sophomore Parker Norris (1g, 0a) are among returning forwards who will be eager to make an impact in 2020. Freshman forward Elias Taubo from Norway looks to be among the newcomers who could add an additional dimension to the attack.    

The Seahawk midfield looks to be in good shape led by senior 2019 All-CAA First Team selection Jacob Evans (2g, 4a) who now has the benefit of a season at UNCW under his belt after transferring in last year from the University of St. Thomas. Evans is among the returning players who could play a key role in filling the gap that exists on the offensive side of the ball. Senior Alejandro Saez (2g, 1a) who started all nineteen games last year, junior Athit Berg (0g, 1a), and sophomore Colton Pleasants (2g, 1a) who was a 2019 CAA All-Rookie Team selection are among returning starters. Juniors Dominic Toone (0g, 1a) and Ryan Graham (0g, 1a), sophomore Gabe Mercer (0g, 2a) who played in seventeen games with three starts, and sophomores Jeffrey Masser and Michael Morell are among other returning midfielders who will be in the mix for a greater role in 2020. 

Rebuilding the backline is the second challenge that Aidan Heaney faces heading into the 2020 season. Redshirt junior Drew Rabil (0g, 1a) who appeared in fourteen contests with five starts and sophomore Jaden Strumeier who saw action in fifteen contests last year are among returning backs. Freshman Johan Bjorck and senior transfer Michael Hornsby are among several members of the recruiting class with the potential to make an immediate contribution in the back. 

Sophomore Gabriel Perrotta, a 2019 All-CAA Second Team selection who started seventeen contests last year with a 0.73 goals against average and eight shutouts, returns in goal. Perrotta was a difference maker last year and should be again in 2020 but he will have to do so without the benefit of an experienced backline in front of him. Senior Jonathan Gomes who started one contest last year also returns between the pipes.  

It will be interesting to see how the Seahawks fill the very real gaps that exist due to the departure of a very talented and experienced senior class. All things considered the talent level at UNCW will measure up just fine with other members of the CAA and it is worth noting that this is not Aidan Heaney's first rodeo. Heaney, who will enter his twentieth year at the helm of the UNCW program, has successfully and quickly reloaded in the past. He will have talent to work with but he may not have the combination of talent and experience needed to prevent a learning curve and avoid a slight drop in the CAA standings.  There may be contests, particularly in the early going, in which the absence of a dominant goal scorer like Phillip Goodrum and an inexperienced backline will be felt.  


Johan Bjorck - Defender - Stockholm, Sweden - Played club for Djurgardens IF. A solid ball winner with the physical and athletic ability to make an immediate impact.

Alex Liddle - Midfielder - Rome, Georgia - Model High School - Played club for Darlington School Soccer Academy where hse was the Golden Boot recipient. Soccer savvy player with a great work rate.

Angelo Madrid - Defender - Apex, North Carolina - Crossroads Flex High School - Second Team All-Conference selection in high school. Played for North Carolina FC. Left-footed athletic player.

Griffin Stidham - Defender - Cary, North Carolina - Panther Creek High School - Tri-6 All-Conference selection. All-4A Region selection. Played for North Carolina FC U-19 DA-Pro. Athletic and physical defender.   

Michael Hornsby - Defender - Biberach an der Riss, Germany - Pestalozzi Gymnasium High School - Graduate Student transfer from Queens College where he was a three-time First Team All-SAC selection. 

Bryce Loui - Defender - Centennial, Colorado - Cherry Creek High School - Played club for Colorado Rapids DA. Invited to participate in 2018-19 ECNL National Camp. Quick with good touch on the ball. 

Jack Ruddy - Midfielder - Virginia Beach, Virginia - First Colonial High School - Played for Beach FC. Team captain. First Team All-Conference and Second Team All-State at First Colonial. Soccer savvy player with good touch on the ball and the quickness needed to create space.  

Phillip Speed - Forward - Jacksonville High School - Jacksonville, North Carolina - Three time All-Area and All-Region selection at Jacksonville High School. Netted ten goals and contributed thirteen assists his senior season. All-State selection. All-Area Player of the Year. Played club for Wilmoington Hammerheads Youth. Talented and versatile athlete with great work ethic. 

Tsubasa Takado - Forward - Narashino City, Japan - Municipal HS Funabasi - Senior transfer from West Virginia who started twenty-six of fifty-one career contests. Three-time Academic All-Conference selection. 

Elias Taubo - Forward - Oslo, Norway - Norwegian School of Elite Sports - Played club for Asker, Valerenga and Ready. Scored seven goals in twenty-three contests for Valerenga B club team in 2019. A goal scorer with a high level of competitive experience.

Haruki Yamashita - Goalkeeper - Kawasaki, Japan - Mallard Creek High School - Played for Charlotte Independence SC DA U-18/19 where he had a 1.30 goals against average. Mid-Atlantic All-ECNL U-17 honors.





UCF Announces Six Newcomers. Eight Starters Return From Program Best 2019 Season

Scott Calabrese has been building the program at UCF, going from eight wins in his first season in 2017, to thirteen wins in 2018, to fifteen wins in 2019. It will be difficult to keep that trend up but this is a program that is clearly on the right path. Making a deeper run in the NCAA Tournament looks to be among the next steps. 

Departures and Gaps - UCF will enter the season without three starters from the 2019 team. Departures due to graduation include two-time All-American forward Cal Jennings (18g, 4a) who had forty-six career goals including seventeen game winners and defender and team captain Jonathan Dean (0g, 6a). The Knights will also be without defender Glademir Mendoza (0g, 1a) who transferred in last year from New Mexico and was named to the 2019 All-AAC Rookie Team. 

Opportunity for Improvement - Ten of UCF's contests last year went into overtime. The Knights did a really good job of closing out those contests with seven wins, two ties, and one loss (a 2-1 loss to SMU in the NCAA Tournament). However, they had difficulty at times closing out games in regulation allowing opponents to get back into contests after they had what appeared to be a commanding lead. 

Summary - Eight starters including four All-AAC team members are back from the 2019 squad that was 15-3-2, won the regular season American Athletic Conference title with a 6-0-1 mark in league play, was awarded the number nine seed in the NCAA Tournament, advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in the history of the program, and was ranked as the number ten team in the nation in both the United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News season ending polls. 

The Knights were among the most productive teams in the country last year on the offensive side of the ball with a total of forty-four goals. The good news is that five of UCF's top six goal scorers who combined for a total of twenty goals are slated to return. The not so good news is that forward Cal Jennings who does not return was responsible for eighteen goals including seven game-winners. It's no secret that Jennings, who blossomed under Scott Calabrese's direction, played a key role in the Knights' attack the last three years as he developed the physical capacity needed to maximize his technical ability. The $64,000 dollar question at UCF heading into the 2020 season is who and how will the Knights fill the gap, specifically the big play ability, that Jennings provided?   

Calabrese will have a lot of familiar faces at his disposal as he enters his fourth season at the helm of the program so he could address the void in part by adjusting the positioning of some of his players as he did when he moved Jennings from the wing to a striker his junior campaign. Regardless of the approach taken, if the void is successfully filled and team chemistry remains solid, this group will be dangerous. 

Returning forwards include senior Hattabiou Barry (2g, 3a) who has been a starter for the past three seasons. Senior Richard Amon (0g, 2a) who appeared in eleven contests with four starts last year and sophomore Jonas Schmalbach (2g, 1a) are among other returning forwards who look to be in the mix. Newcomer Lucca Dourado out of the Montverde Academy is among the newcomers with the potential to add to the attack up top.

The midfield looks to be deep, experienced and talented. Junior Yoni Sorokin (5g, 5a), a two-year starter and the 2019 AAC Midfielder of the Year, is the guy who puts everything in motion for the Knights. Senior Louis Perez (4g, 11a), a 2019 Second Team All-AAC selection, is a three-year starter and the team leader in assists. Perez is a playmaker who has been an impact player since arriving on campus from France as a freshman in 2017. Sophomore Gino Vivi (5g, 8a), the 2019 AAC Rookie of the Year and 2019 College Soccer News First Team All-Freshman Team selection, adds yet another dimension to the attack. Junior Mauricio Villalobos Vega (1g, 3a) who was a starter in 2019, junior Thomas Ness (0g, 1a) and sophomore  Jeremy Di Lallo (1g, 1a) who is one of four players on the 2020 roster out of the Montverde Academy are among other returning linkmen who round out a UCF midfield that looks to be among the best in the country.

Some reloading is required in the back due to the loss of defenders Jonathan Dean and Glademir Mendoza. Junior backs Yanis Leerman (0g, 2a) a 2019 All-AAC First Team selection and junior Andres Hernandez Betancur (1g, 1a) return to provide a solid necleus upon which to build. Both have the benefit of two-years of starting experience. Senior Itzik Efraim who played in seven games last year with four starts and junior Gideon Adu-Peprah who saw action in eleven contests with one start are among other returning backs who will likely contend for additional minutes in 2020. Freshman Owen Guske, out of the Orlando City Academy, is among several defenders in the recruitings class who should add depth in the back.

Senior Yannik Oettl, the AAC Goalkeeper of the Year for the past two seasons, returns to give the Knights an imposing and experienced shot stopper in goal. Oettl started every contest in 2019 and recorded a 1.14 goals against average and six shutouts. Redshirt sophomore Matt Douglass from Clearwater, Florida out of the Montverde Academy and sophomore Bernardo Brandao from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil out of the IMG Academy also return between the pipes. 

UCF has a big void to fill on the offensive side of the ball but all things considered they look to be a program on solid ground with the expereince, athleticism, talent, and depth needed to build on the success they had last year. 


Lucca Dourado - Forward - Sao Paulo, Brazil - Montverde Academy -  Golden Boot award winner as a senior at Monteverde. 

Anderson Rosa - Defender - Salvador, Bahia, Brazil - Montverde Academy -  Named Most Improved Player of SIMA Gold as a sophomore. 

Brennon Neff - Defender - Lake Mary, Florida - Seminole HIgh School - Played for Orlando City Development Academy. 

Owen Guske - Defender - Jacksonville, Florida - Played for Orlando City Development Academy. Played for Portland Timbers. Played for Armada FC Pro Academy.  

Tyler Lavigne - Goalkeeper - St. Cloud, Florida - Played for U-17 Orlando City Development Academy. Team captain. 

Ariel Hadar - Midfielder - Ra'anana, Israel -  Member of the U-21 Irsraeli international team. Played in the Leumit League. Played for Hapoel Ramat Gan. 




St. John's Adds Three Transfers. Red Storm Returns Nine Starters In 2020

St. John's has a proud past that includes a berth in the NCAA Tournament twenty-one times in the twenty-nine seasons that Dr. Dave Masur has been at the helm of the program, four trips to the College Cup, and a national championship in 2008. A stellar 14-5-1 overall record in 2019, a return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013, and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen resulted in another successful season at St. John's that energized the program and returned the dialogue to the present.   

Departures and Gaps - Key departures due to graduation include midfielders Brandon Duarte (2g, 3a) a 2019 All-Big East Second-Team selection who transferred to St. John's after playing for Ancilla College for two seasons and Niko Petridis (4g, 4a) who transferred to St. John's as a junior after playing for two seasons for Connecticut. The Red Storm will also have to replace playmaking midfielder Skage Simonsen (3g, 6a) who was the All-Big East Freshman of the Year in 2018 and a repeat All-Big East Second Team member in 2019.

Opportunity for Improvement - All five of St. John's losses last year were to teams that advanced to at least the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Red Storm lost to Maryland 1-0 in overtime, to Georgetown 3-0 and Providence 2-0 in regular season Big East play, to Providence 2-1 in the Big East Tournament, and to Virginia 3-0 in the NCAA Tournament. St. John's ability to win the close contests in 2020, particularly against top level teams, will depend on their capacity to consistently put in a full ninty minutes of play without costly lapses in play. The Red Storm were at their best last year when they were able to put pressure on their opponents. The Johnnies were vulnerable when the reverse happened and their opponent was able to apply pressure that disrupted their tempo and reduced the amount of time and space they had to work with in the midfield. 

Coaches Recruiting Class Comment - Dr. Dave Masur announced the early addition of three transfers who will enroll in the spring semester. Masur stated, "We're excited to add three talented players who look like they can have an immediate impact on our program. They strengthen our team at all three field positions and come with a variety of qualities that will add depth to our roster this fall."

Summary - Saint John's was a young team last year with eight underclassmen in key roles. There is reason for optimisim in 2020 with a strong and deep roster of players slated to return and a talented group of newcomers, in addition to the three transfers already announced, in the pipeline. St. John's jumped from a seven win season in 2018 during which they scored a total of eighteen goals and allowed twenty-one to a fourteen win campaign in 2019 with an up-tempo offense that found the back of net a total of thirty-eight times and a stout defense that only allowed nineteen goals.

Junior Tani Oluwaseyi returns in 2020 to give the Red Storm a lethal presence up-top. The Red Storms' resurgence on the offensive side of the ball in 2019 can be attributed in large part to the playmaking ability of Oluwaseyi who had a breakout season during which he became the first St. John's player in more than two decades to be named the Big East Offensive Player of the Year. Oluwaseyi's eleven goals were the most scored in a single season by a St. John's player since Simone Salinno scored fourteen times back in 2003. Oluwaseyi served notice early in the 2019 season that he was going to be a difference maker when he scored the game-winner in overtime on the road to give the Johnnies the edge they needed for a confidence and momentum building 1-0 win over a very good N.C. State team.  Junior Josiah Crawford (1g, 0a) who saw action in fifteen matches last year with eight starts is among other returning players who could contribute up top in 2020.

Some reloading will be required in the midfield to fill the void that exists due to the departure of Brandon Duarte (2g, 3a) who was a two-year starter, Niko Petridis (4g, 4a) and Skage Simonsen (3g, 6a) who transferred to SMU. Simonsen was a two-year starter and key playmaker who assisted on five of Oluwaseyi's eleven goals. The very best St. John's teams under Dr. David Mauser have featured talented midfielders like Jeff Matteo (2001), Matia Damiani (2003) and Nelson Becerra (2008) who had the ability to control the middle third, maintain possession, and add punch to the offense.

Junior midfielder Brandon Knapp, a two-year starter, team captain, and 2019 All-Big East Third Team member, is a prime timer who returns to set the pace on both sides of the ball in the middle of the park. Redshirt senior Matt Forster (1g, 1a) who has three years of starting experience under his belt and junior Einar Lye (5g, 5a), a 2019 All-Big Ten Third Team selection, are among returning linkmen who have the ability to add an additional dimension to the offense. Junior Ethan Shaw who appeared in eleven matches last year with five starts and sophomore Atila Ashrafi (2g, 0a) who played in eight games with two starts are among other returning midfielders who should be in the mix for additional minutes in 2020. Senior Alejandro Riquelme, a transfer from Siena, is a playmaker who will add depth and experinece to the midfield.   

The backline looks to be in good shape with junior center backs Matt Chandler (0g, 1a) and Luke Hansen (0g, 1a) returning to anchor the defense along with seniors Rfael Bustamante (1g, 1a) and Johan Aquilon who was hampered last year by injury and sophomore Jared Juleau (1g, 2a). Junior Sanoussi Sangary is among other returning backs who will vie for a greater role in 2020. Junior back Anthony Herbert, a transfer from rom Farileigh Dickinson, is a solid addition who will likely challenge for a starting role.  

The Johnnies successfully utilized a two-goalkeeper system last year with Jan Hoffelner playing the first stanza and Luka Gavran taking over in the second half. Dual netminders can be problematic but it worked well for St. John's. Both Hoffelner, a senior, and Gavran a red shirt sophomore return in 2020 to give the Red Storm an experienced and battle tested duo in goal. 

St. John's has the talent, experience, and depth to have a high ceiling in 2020. If everything falls into place, a first place finish in the Big East Conference and a deep run in the NCAA Tournament are clearly in play.  


Anthony Herbert - Defender - Brooklyn, New York - Progress High School - Junior transfer from Fairleigh Dickinson where he appeared in thirty-eight contests with thirty-seven starts as a center back. Named to the 2019 United Soccer Coaches All-Northeast Region Third Team.  All-NEC Second Team selection in 2019 and 2019. Played for Trinidad and Tobago U-17 and U-20 National Teams. Played for the New York Red Bulls Academy.  

Wesley Leggett - Forward - Lawrence, New Jersey - Princeton Country Day - A sophomore transfer from the University of Connecticut where he played in six contests in 2019. Tallied twenty-one goals and five assists during senior season and twenty goals and four assists as a junior at  Princeton Country Day. Played for the Match Fit Academy for four years. 

Alejandro Riquelme - Midfielder - Las Rozas, Spain - Universidad Computense de Madrid - Senior transfer from Siena where the scored a total of twelve goals and contributed eleven assist. Second Team All-MAAC Selection in 2017 and 2019. Played for Las Rozas Club de Futbol.  

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