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Western Michigan Men’s Soccer. Broncos Reloading In 2024.

Several Key Contributors Return Supplemented By A Promising Recruiting Class.

Coach – Chad Wisemen – 12th season
Conference – Missouri Valley Conference
2023 Record – 17-1-4 overall, 7-0-1 in conference
2023 National Ranking – 12 United Soccer Coaches , 9 College Soccer News
Five Year Win Total
2023 – 17
2022 – 16
2021 – 7
2020 – 7
2019 – 11
2024 Outlook

Western Michigan is coming off a stellar season during which they were 17-1-4 overall, had a program record twenty game unbeaten streak, and won both the Missouri Valley Conference regular season and tournament titles in their inaugural season as a member of the conference. The Broncos then defeated Green Bay and upset Duke in Durham to advance to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament where they were edged by eventual national finalist Notre Dame in a match that came down to a penalty kick shootout.

Any analysis of Western Michigan heading into the 2024 season has to begin with the fact that they have a lot of talent and experience to replace on both sides of the ball. The Broncos will be without the firepower provided by All-American forwards Charlie Sharp (19g, 8a), a MAC Herman Trophy Finalist, and Dylan Sing (15g, 8a), the MVC Player of the Year. They also must replace defenders Jaylen Shannon, a 2023 All-American and the MVC Defender of the Year, Johnathan Robinson (1g, 13a), Will Perkins and Nick Stone as well as netminder Ethan Brandt, the MVC Goalkeeper of the Year.

As a result Western Michigan’s 2024 roster has much more of a starting-over feel than in the past but the departures could be soothed over by the return of several starters and key contributors and the fact that the transfer portal has created the opportunity for teams to reload much faster than in the past. In that regard, Western Michigan has announced the addition of several experienced transfers (more could be added) who are capable of making an immediate impact.

Sophomore Noah James (1g, 3a), a College Soccer News All-Freshman selection, returns up top with the advantage of a year of starting experience under his belt. Redshirt junior Ron Sylejmani (1g, 4a) is among other returning players with the ability to add an additional dimension to the attack and help fill the void that exists up top. Freshman forward Liam Smith is a highly regarded goal scorer with the potential to make an immediate contribution to the attack.

The midfield looks to be a team strength and in great shape with team captain and center midfielder Landon Fisher (0g, 3a) returning to set the pace in the center of the park along with highly regarded junior playmaker Carson Hodgson (8g, 11a), the 2022 MAC Freshman of the Year and a 2023 All-MVC Second Team selection, and junior Tanner Hodgson (0g, 3a), a talented two-year starter. Center midfielder Gabe Villagomez and holding mid Jordan Klien look to be among the newcomers who could be in the mix early on in the midfield.

Graduate Student Amin Fernouchi, a 2023 transfer from Lindsay Wilson, returns in the back after sustaining an injury in the first game last year that sidelined him for the entire season. Sophomore Braxton Arpachinda, who appeared in 12 games in 2023 is among other returning players who look to be in the mix for a greater role in 2024. Graduate Student defender Donal Rahill, an experienced transfer from Coastal Carolina, looks to be among the newcomers who could make an immediate impact in the back.

Transfer Colin Welsh, a three-year starter at Memphis, is a solid and composed shot stopper. Welsh is a positive addition and experienced candidate to fill the crucial vacancy that exists in goal.

The Broncos will find out what life is like without Sharp and Sing who powered an attack in 2023 that averaged 2.32 goals per game and a defense anchored by backs Robinson, Perkins, Shannon and Stone and goalkeeper Brandt that held opponents to an average of 0.73 goals per game. The departures were a talented and experienced bunch who made an impact during their tenure in Kalamazoo.

Will Western Michigan be as dominant a team in 2024 as they were in 2023? Probably not. They clearly will have a different look in 2024. A learning curve early on is likely. But if everything falls into place, the chances are pretty good that the Broncos under Chad Wisemen will continue to be very competitive in 2024.
2024 Newcomers

Western Michigan has so far announced the addition of three transfers and five freshmen. Additional players are likely to be added to the 2024 recruiting class.

Chad Wisemen stated, “These five freshmen will join three January transfers that make up an eight-man recruiting class thus far. These five are all captains of their resected youth teams and lead in way where others want to follow. I think we are looking at the future of Bronco soccer when we dive into these five players.” Wiseman added, “These young men are all winners, they win in just about all phases of their youth lives. The University and greater Kalamazoo community are the big winners as all of these players will leave their mark as student athletes of the men’s soccer program.”

Colin Welsh – Goalkeeper – Overland Park, Kansas – A senior transfer from the University of Memphis where he was a three-year starter appearing in 36 games with 34 starts. He was named to the AAC All-Rookie Team in 2021 and was an AAC Second Team All-Conference selection in 2022. Has trained with several USL teams over the past three seasons.

Donal Rahill – Defender – Ardee, Ireland – A graduate student center back transfer from Coastal Carolina. Prior to that he was an All-Great American Conference Honorable Mention member playing for the Rogers Tate Hillcats. He has over 50 career starts. Rahill has played with Alamo City SC, Corpus Christi FC, the Little Rock Rangers SC, and AFC Ann Arbor most recently in the USL 2.

Orion McHugh – Defender – Brooklyn, New York – A graduate student transfer from Palm Beach Atlantic University where he appeared in 30 games with 28 starts. Capable of playing at either center back or right back. A member of the Puerto Rican Men’s National Team player pool. McHugh has played for the NC Fusion and Long Island Rough Riders USL 2 teams.

Gabe Villagomez – Center Midfielder – Lee High School – Plays club soccer with Midwest United MLS-Next. Has spent two summers with Midwest United’s USL 2 team. Was named MVP in the U-17 MLS next All-Star Showcase game.

John Coon – Goalkeeper – Rochester Adams High School – Played for Vardar MLS Next Academy. Michigan Division high school state champion. Michigan Dream Team selection.

Jordan Klein – Center Midfielder – Eisenhower High School – Plays club with Nationals Soccer Club. Michigan Dream Team selection. Named to USYS National Championship Best XI. ECNL All-Conference First Team selection.

Adam Matej Smolcic – Defender – Troy High School – Plays club for the Michigan Wolves MLS Next Academy. Team captain for three years. 2021 team advanced to the USYS National Championship Finals.

Liam Smith – Winger – Reeths-Puffer High School. Named Division I Offensive Player of the Year. Three-time All-State selection. Reeths-Puffer High School’s all-time career leading scorer. Set new team single-season scoring record last year.

Picture from Western Michigan Athletics.

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Posted in 2024 Team Reviews

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