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South Florida 2014 Team and Recruiting Class Review

School – South Florida
Conference – American Athletic Conference
Coach – George Kiefer (13th Season)
Background – Under the direction of George Kiefer South Florida has become a perennial winner and a name on the national scene.  The talented and tough minded Bulls have earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament for seven consecutive seasons and eight out of the past nine.  South Florida has advanced to the Elite Eight three times in the history of the program including the 2008 and 2011 seasons under Kiefer. Last year the Bulls entered the inaugural American Athletic Conference Tournament as the number five seed. Relying heavily on a very tenacious backline and excellent play in goal, South Florida advanced past Temple, Rutgers, and Connecticut to win the American Athletic Conference tournament and secure the league's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Bull's season subsequently came to an end with an overall record of 8-4-9 when they were defeated 1-0 by North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Defender Ben Sweat was named an All-American Conference First Team selection.  Midfielders Lindo Mfeka and Samuel Hosseini were All-American Conference Second Team selections.  Mfeka was also named to the Amerian Conference All-Rookie Team.  
Offense – The Bulls must replace forward Stiven Salinas due to graduation.  Salinas netted six goals last year including four game winners. Senior Edwin Moalosi (5g, 4a) who was named the Offensive MVP of the 2013 AAC Tournament, senior Kennedy Selorm Adablah (3g, 2a) and junior Terry Delancy (1g, 1a) are among a solid core of returning forwards who should play a key role in the South Florida attack in 2014. Senior Tyler Blackwood, who transfers in from the University of Tampa where he was the Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year for two seasons, should contribute to the offense from the get-go. Sophomore midfielder Lindo Mfeka (5g, 4a) is a prime timer who had a very impressive freshman season is poised to have another productive campaign in 2014.  Midfielder Wesley Charpie (0g, 6a) who has been a starter for the past three seasons will also play a key role in 2014 and is among the seniors who should set the pace for the entire team.  Other returning midfielders who are projected to hit the ground running are sophomore Duane Muckette (0g, 1a) who started every game last year and was named to the AAC All-Tournament Team, sophomore Marcus Epps (1g, 0a) who appeared in 21 matches last year, and senior Gerardo Hernandez (1g, 1a). Senior Lucas Baldin who missed the 2013 season due to injury but was a significant contributor in 2011 and 2012 returns to add yet another dimension to the midfield. Junior transfer Atsou Ayah from Tyler Junior College should add immediate value in the center midfielder role.  
Defense – Last year a tenacious bend but don't break back line and impressive play in goal enabled the Bulls to hold opponents to a total of only sixteen goals. South Florida will enter the 2014 season with some gaps to plug on the defensive side of the ball due to the graduation of back Ben Sweat who was a four year starter and finished his tenure in Tampa as USF's all-time leader in games played, rock solid goalkeeper Brentton Muhammad who had a 0.64 goals against average with eight shutouts, and defensive midfielder Samuel Hosseini (1g, 0a). Senior Nikola Paunic who was a starter last year and sophomore Matthew O'Neal who saw action in fourteen contests last year are among returning backs. Sophomore Jackson Brown is among other returning backs who will seek to play a greater role in 2014.  Junior transfer Brandon Riley from Tyler Junior College and true freshman Rohan Roberts out of the Orlando FC are among the newcomers who look to be in the hunt for playing time in the back. Redshirt junior Dallas Jaye, redhirt sophomore Mike Mitchell, redshirt freshman Drew Trautmann, and true freshmen Spasoje Stefanovic return to battle for the starting role in goal. Jaye is the only goalkeeper that has seen any official game time action for the Bulls.        

Newcomers – Three and A Half Star Recruiting Class 

Atsou Ayah – Midfielder – Ghana – Blake High School – Junior transfer from Tyler Junior College.  U-17 U.S. National Team Residency Program.  Played club for the Clearwater Chargers for two years.  NJCAA All-Region at Tyler.  

Brandon Riley – Defender – Orlando, Florida – Cypress Creek High School – Junior transfer from Tyler Junior College.  NJCAA All-American.  Played club for Florida Rush. 

Alessandro Paciocco – Midfielder – Caracas, Venezuela – Played for U-17 Venezuela National Team.  Played for the Deportivo La Guaira and the Real ESPPOR soccer clubs.  

Rohan Roberts – Defender – Oconee, Florida – Played for Orlando FC USSDA U-18 team.  Member Florida ODP team.  Ranked by College Soccer News as the number 103 player in the class of 2014.  

Ryan Talbot – Defender – Medford, New Jersey – Played for Philadelphia Union USSDA U-18 team.  

Spasoje Stefanovic – Goalkeeper – Belgrade, Serbia – Played for FC Bask.  Played for Serbia U-18 and U-19 National Teams.  

Tyler Blackwood – Forward – London, England – Senior Transfer from the University of Tampa.  Named Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year for the past two seasons.  Netted 13 goals in 2013.   

Eduardo Maceira – Midfielder – Caracas, Venezuela – Played for Venezuela U-17 Team.  Played club soccer for Deportivo La. Guaira.  

Prognosis for 2014 – There is an old saying in the world of sports that a tie is like kissing your sister.  After recording a total of nine ties in 2013, George Kiefer's South Florida team might be able to shed some light on whether there is any validity to that saying. The Bulls experienced their share of adversity last year but to their credit they salvaged what otherwise would likely have been a very frustrating 2013 season by winning the American Athletic Conference Tournament to extend their streak of consective NCAA Tournament appearances to seven. South Florida will enter the 2014 season with seven starters back from the 2013 season. They return their two top point producers from the 2013 season in midfielder Lindo Mfeka (5g, 4a) and forward Edwin Moalosi (5g, 4a).  Kiefer has once again elected to go the transfer route to help plug the gaps.  Senior forward Tyler Blackwood who transfers in from the University of Tampa adds another speedy dimension to the attack as does junior center midfielder Atsou Ayah who transfers in from Tyler Junior College. Senior midfielder Wesley Charpie (0g, 6a) who led the Bulls in assists last year with six will again play a key role in 2014. The return of senior midfielder Lucas Baldin after missing the 2013 season due to injury is a big plus. Senior Nikola Paunic is among returning players who provide experience in the back line. Junior back Brandon Riley who tranfers in from Tyler Junior College is among the newcomers who should be able to contribute right away. The backs at South Flordia are usually involved more than most in the attack so it's important that they gel as a unit early in the season. The goalkeeper spot is a big question mark heading into the season. The best South Florida teams in the past have played with grit, a lot of heart, a great deal of confidence, and a little attitude. Kiefer's never been shy about using the "we don't get the respect that we deserve angle" to motivate his team. The South Florida roster in 2014 contains sufficient talent. The key will be for all of the individual pieces to meet their potential and merge together into a cohesive team.  If that happens you can count on fewer ties at South Florida in 2014 than in 2013 and more wins.   
Posted in 2014 Team Reviews

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