The Wolverines Are Coming Off an 8-7-3 Season During Which They Were Hampered By Injuries.
Joel Harrison – Defender – Played in only five contests with four starts in 2021 due to injury. An All-Big Ten First Team selection in 2020 season (spring 2021). Played in a total of 40 games with 30 starts during four seasons. Played in 19 games with 18 starts in 2019 season and seven games with seven starts in 2020 season (spring 2021.
Farouk Umar Osman – Forward – Played in 87 career contests with 75 starts over five seasons with 11career goals and 11 career assists. A five year starter. An All-Big Ten Second Team member in 2018 and Big Ten All-Freshman Team selection in 2017.
Marc Ybarra – Midfielder – Holds the Michigan record for games played and games started. Appeared in a total of 91 games with 90 starts during five seasons. Had 9 career goals and 24 career assists. Big Ten Midfielder of the Year in 2020 (spring 2021) season. All-Big Ten First Team selection in 2021 and 2020 seasons. All-Big Ten Second Team selection in 2019. Big Ten All-Freshman Team in 2017.
Austin Swiech – Defender – Appeared in a total of 69 contests with 53 starts over five seasons. Had one career goal and seven career assists. A starter for four seasons.
Owen Finnerty – Goalkeeper – Transferred to Michigan State. Appeared in and started five contests at Michigan in 2021 with a 1.10 goals against average. Started ten contests during 2020 (spring 2021) season with a 1.07 goals against average. Appeared in eight matches with seven starts as a freshman in 2019 with a 0.79 goals against average.
Mohammed Zakyl – Forward – Only played in two contests during 2021 season due to injury. Appeared in 45 contests with 28 starts during four seasons. Had 11 career goals and 8 career assists. Big Ten All-Freshman Team in 2017. Was a starter in 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons.
Opportunity for Improvement
Avoidance of the injuries that hampered the consistency of play and necessitated a different starting lineup every contest.
Coaches Recruiting Class Comment
Chaka Daley stated, “Michigan men’s soccer is excited to welcome these eight outstanding young men to our program. They are not only potentially great student-athletes, but they will undoubtedly be tremendous ambassadors for our program, staff and University. We are fortunate to have attracted young men that come from varying backgrounds, excellent soccer environments, but more importantly are hungry and passionate about representing Michigan.”
Michigan returns a talented and deep contingent up-top and in the midfield despite the departure of long term contributors midfielder Marc Ybarra who played in 91 contests with 90 starts and forward Farouk Umar Osman who played in 87 games with 75 starts during five seasons. As a result Coach Daley will have a lot of different lineup options.
Seniors Evan Rasmussen (2g, 2a) who played in 16 games with 13 starts last year and Derick Broche (3g, 1a) who appeared in 14 contests with 5 starts are among returning players who Daley will likely look to for firepower up-top. Senior Christian Pulselli who appeared in 13 contests in 2021 with 2 starts and sophomore Michael Leon who played in 12 games with 3 starts are among other returning players who look to be in the mix up-top. Freshman forward Nick Kaloukian is among several members of the recruiting class who could add to the offense up-top and be in line for early playing time.
Graduate student Kevin Buca (5g, 2a), a two-year starter and the team’s leading goal scorer last year, and 5th year senior Cameron Martin who played in 12 games with 4 starts in 2021 are soccer savvy and experienced players who will set the pace in the midfield. Senior Inaki Rodriguez (1g, 4a) is a talented and tenacious box-to-box midfielder who will have the opportunity to play a greater role and help fill the void that exists due to the departure of Marc Ybarra. Junior Bryce Blevins (0g, 2a) and senior Uriel Zeitz (2g, 0a) who missed a large portion of the 2021 season due to injury but is now healthy are among other returning midfielders who look to be in the mix.
Sophomore Hayden Evans, a 2021 Big Ten All-Freshman selection who started 13 games last year with a 1.26 goals against average, returns as the front runner to anchor the defense in goal. The experience that Evans gained last year reduces the uncertainty at the sports most important position.
Junior Quinn Rogers (1g, 1a) who has two seasons of starting experience under his belt will play a key role on the defensive side of the ball either as a holding midfielder or center back. Sophomore Jason Bucknor (0g, 2a), a 2021 Big Ten All-Freshman selection with a year of starting experience under his belt, and senior Moshtaba Al-Hasnawi who played in ten contests last year are among returning backs with the ability to push forward and add an additional dimension to the attack.
Seniors Ryan Schultz (1g, 1a) who was a starter last year, Declan Gaffney (1g, 2a) who played in 16 games with 10 starts, Brennan Callow (2g, 0a) who played in 11 contests with 9 starts in 2021 and Harry Pithers who played in 7 games with 5 starts last year but missed most of the season due in injury also figure to play prominent roles and strengthen the defense in the back in 2022.
Defenders Nolan Miller and Niklas Dossmann are among the newcomers who have the competitive experience and the athleticism to be in the hunt for playing time early on.
Adversity in one season often proves to be a spring board for success the following season. Last year Michigan had a ton of injuries which resulted in numerous lineup changes. The good news is that provided the opportunity for a lot of players to gain valuable playing time.
Things might have been different last year had there not been so many injuries and a little more stability but that’s past history now. Daley and his staff know the areas where improvement must occur in order for Michigan to contend for a Big Ten title and return to the NCAA Tournament field after a two year absence. The Wolverines ceiling in 2022 will hinge on the ability of the returning players to take their game to a higher level based on the lessons and experience gained last year, the level of contribution of the newcomers, and the ability of the coaching staff to sort out the lineup and combinations that will maximize performance.
Much will depend on the ability of older players like graduate student midfielder Kevin Bucca and senior midfielder Inaki Rodriquez to provide leadership and set the pace and the ability of younger players like junior holding midfielder/defender Quin Rogers, junior midfielder Bryce Blevins, sophomore back Jason Bucknor and sophomore goalkeeper Hayden Evans among others to take their game to a higher level.
Inexperience and the inability to consistently put together a complete ninety minute shift were weaknesses last year at Michigan that may very well manifest as strengths in 2022. There are no easy games in Big Ten play but the schedule is favorable in that Michigan will face Big Ten foes Maryland, Indiana, Ohio State and Penn State at home. The Wolverines have some work to do but if everything falls into place the potential exists for the 2022 season to be an exciting one in Ann Arbor.
Nicholas Cassiday – Midfielder – Grand Rapid, Michigan – Grand Rapids Christian High School – Played for Midwest United FC. Team captain. Earned the USYSA Midwest Region Golden Boot Award. United Soccer Coaches High School All-American. Named Male Soccer Player of the Year by USA Today Network. Two-time Michigan Dream Team selection.
Niklas Dossmann – Defender – Belmont, California – IGS Mainz-Bretzenheim (junior and senior) – Carlmont High School (freshman and sophomore) – Played for U 19 Bundesliga and FSV Mainz 05 in Germany. Played for De Anza Force FC from 2014-2019.
Nicholas Kaloukian – Forward – Wayne, New Jersey – Wayne Hills High School – Played for Cedar Stars Academy – Bergen since 2016 and Cedar Stars Rush, USL 2. Scored 23 goals and contributed 10 assists in 24 games in the 2021-2022 MLS Next seasons.
Zachary Martens – Midfielder – Gainesville, Florida – Gainesville High School – Played for Orlando City SC in MLS Next. Team captain of Jacksonville Football Club from 2016 – 2020.
Oliver Martin – Forward – Williston, Vermont – Loomis Chaffee School – Played for Juventus Academy Boston and Farmington Sports Arena FC. Named to High School All-American BIMBO East Team in 2021. All-American, All-State, and All-NEPSAC as a senior at Loomis Chaffee School. ODP National Team in 2016 and 2017.
Nolan Miller – Defender – Troy, Michigan – Seaholm High School – Played for the Columbus Crew U 19 MLS Next Academy. Played for Columbus Crew MLS Next Pro. Played for Vadar U 17 MLS Next Academy. Named to the All-Great Lakes Conference Best XI in 2019.
Chukwudubem Obilo – Ontario, Canada – Assumption Secondary School – Played for the Athletic Institute Football Club. Named the AIFC Players MVP. Played for TFC MLS Academy 2018-2019. Represented Canada at the Nations Cup in 2016.
Erik Josson – Goalkeeper Bloomfield Hills Michigan – Bloomfield High School – Transfer from IPFW where he started 20 matches in goal, with 80 saves and four shutouts. Named to the Horizon League All-Freshman team in 2020 (spring 2021) season. Played for Vardar Academy, Michigan Wolves and Nationals Union. All-District, All-Region and All-State selection at Bloomfield High School.
Picture from Michigan Athletics