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.
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.