Kevin Grimes once again cast his recruiting net over the state of California and landed an impressive recruiting class that should win a lot of games before its tenure in Berkeley is over. The newcomers join a Cal team that experienced a season of growing pains in 2018 due to injuries and inexperience.
Departures and Gaps – The Golden Bears will be without the services of a five member 2018 senior class that included All-Pac-12 First Team forward Shinya Kadono, All-Pac-12 Second-Team midfielder Sam Ebstein (3g, 1a), and defender Sam Junqua who was eighth overall pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft. The loss of Kadono (12g, 2a), who was California's top goal scorer the past two seasons, leaves a big scoring void to fill. Kadono and Ebstein accounted for fifteen of the twenty-two goals the Golden Bears scored last year.
Opportunities for Improvement – Injuries and inexperience hampered California in 2018. Injuries resulted in line up changes that contributed to inconsistency and the ability to get into a rhythm. Keeping healthy in 2019 should improve consistency. Twelve of the twenty-four players on the 2018 roster were either true freshman or redshirt freshman. Five freshmen were in the starting lineup. It is tough to learn on the job in the Pac-12 Conference. The good news is that the experience the current sophomores gained last year should pay dividends in 2019. However, offensive productivity is a key unanswered question and is a definite opportunity for improvement in 2019. Returning players scored a total of only seven goals last year. Someone will have to emerge to provide punch to the attack. Sophomores Alonzo Del Mundo (3g, 1a) and Taylor Davila (2g, 3a) are among returning players and forward Arman Samimi and midfielder Fahmi Ibrahim are among the newcomers who could help fill the void.
Coaches Recruiting Class Comment – "These guys have it all,"Grimes stated. "From a character standpoint, they fit our culture. Academically, they are all outstanding are are driven to get their degree from Cal."
Summary – Cal was 7-9-2 overall with a 3-7-0 mark in Pac-12 play in 2018. In 2017 the Golden Bears were 11-7-0 overall with a 6-4-0 record in conference play. They returned to the NCAA Tournament in 2017 for the first time since the 2014 season. In 2013 California advanced to the Elite Eight and in 2014 to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament. The Golden Bears have earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament a total of eighteen times with twelve of them under the guidance of Kevin Grimes. California will still be a young team in 2019 with a lot of underclassmen in key roles. If all the young talent meshes, the potential exists for significant improvement in 2019. If not, it could be another challenging season. Cautious optimism is appropriate.
Arman Samimi – Forward – La Jolla, California – Bishop's School – Played on the U16 and U18 National Teams. Good finisher.
Collin Travasos – Goalkeeper – Encinitas, California – Played with the U18 National Team. Played with Atlanta United.
Fernando Andrade – Midfielder – Chula Vista, California – St. Augustine HIgh School – Played for Albion SC.
Togo Nakamura – Defender – Torrance, California – Particiapated in U14 and U15 National Teams camps. Member of the US ODP. HIghly regarded soccer savvy defensive midfielder.
Paolo Carrillo-Weisenburger – Midfielder – Newport Beach, California – Participated in the ODP program. Will join Cal in the spring season. Defensive mid
Fahmi Ibrahim – Midfielder – Alameda, California – Played for the San Jose Earthquakes Academy. Scored fouteen goals last year for the U18/U19 San Jose Earthquakes.
Jack Singer – Midfielder – San Francisco, California – Three-time All-Marin County Athletic League First-Team selection.