|School – University of Wisconsin-Green Bay|
|Conference – Horizon League|
|Coach – Jeremy Bonomo (2nd Season)|
Background – Jeremy Bonomo became the head coach at Wisconsin-Green Bay in 2015. He directed the Phoenix to a 5-10-3 overall record with a 2-5-2 mark in League play during his first season at the helm of the program. Bonomo served as the top assistant coach at the Univerisity of Cincinnati before coming to Green Bay. The Phoenix had signature wins in 2015 over Drake, Wisconsin, and Milwaukee.
Green Bay has been a member of the Horizon League since the 2001 season. This is a program with a ton of potential that has experienced success in the past as reflected in the fact that the program has had eight seasons with fourteen or more wins. The last season in which Green Bay had fourteen wins was in 2009 which is also the last year in which the program earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The program is currently in a rebuilding mode seeking to increase their win total and to move upward in the Horizon League standings.
Offense – Last year the Green Bay attack produced a total of only twelve goals. This is an area where there is clearly an opportunity for improvement heading into the 2016 season. The key departure on the offensive side of the ball due to graduation is forward Cheenuj Shong who contributed four of the twelve goals scored last year.
Senior forward William Nordenstrom (3g, 0a) and senior midfielder Audi Jepson (4g, 4a) are among the returning players who Bonomo will likely look to for offensive punch in 2016. Freshmen Thomas McCormack from Scottsdale, Arizona and Tomer Zloczower from Israel are among the new additions who will compete for playing time up-top and who could help add an additional dimension to the offense.
Junior Sidney McClain (0g, 1a) and seniors Jordan Thorpe and Yasin Abdulgasem, and sophomores Vincent Nguyen and Buran Huseini are among other returning midfielders who will be in the mix in 2016. Freshman Kirim Lauba out of highly regarded Montverde Academy is among the newcomers who should compete for playing time in the midfield.
Defense – Last year the Phoenix held opponents to a total of twenty-one goals as compared to twenty-eight in 2013 and twenty-eight in 2014. The graduation of back Nathan Kelsey who was a two-year starter creates a gap in the backline that must be be filled.
Seniors Trey Benhart (1g, 0a) and Brandon Hall and sophomore Buran Huseini (0g, 1a) are among returning backs who will likely play a prominent role in the defense in 2016. Freshman Andre Baires whose resume includes international experience representing Canada is among the members of the recruiting class who should compete for playing time in the back out of the gate.
Senior Kyle Ihn who was the starter in goal last year returns to add stability and experience to the defense. Ihn had a 1.18 goals against averages with five shutouts in 2015.
Newcomers – Three Star Recruiting Class
Coach Bonomo stated, "Our 2016 class has a nice combination of U.S. Development Academy Players, high level club players and youth national team members." He added, "We are looking forward to having all these players compete for playing time immediately and push our veteran players to create a very competitive environment."
Andre Baires – Defender – Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada – Vancouver Whitecaps FC – Has international experience representing Canada at the U-15, U-17, and U-20 levels.
Michael Carreon – Midfield – Appleton, Wisconsin – FC Wisconsin – Athletic player with the ability to play multipe positions. Soccer savvy player.
Michael Cohen – Defender – Ann Arbor, Michigan – Crew SC Academy Wolves – Ball winner with a great work ethic.
Thomas McCormack – Forward – Scottsdale, Arizona – SC Del Sol – Athletic goal scorer with quickness who may provide immediate help to the attack.
Aashil Mehta – Midfielder – Rochester, Michigan – Vardar Academy – A playmaker with great vision and touch on the ball.
Robleh Omar – Forward – Madison, Wisconsin – FC Wisconsin – Physical goal scorer with speed and good touch on the ball.
Ian Smith – Midfielder – Minneapolis, Minnesota – Minnesota Thunder Academy – Great work ethic. Solid midfielder.
Brian Vang – Midfielder – St. Paul, Minnesota – Minnesota Thunder Academy – Box to box midfielder. Soccer savvy player.
Tomer Zloczower – Forward – Ness-Ziona, Israel – Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC – Played for Israel at the U-17 and U-18 levels. Could add immediate puch to the offense.
Prognosis for 2016 – Green Bay should be much more competitve in 2016 than they were in 2015. The Phoenix showed improvement last year on the defensive side of the ball which is generally the first step forward in terms of rebuilding and a positive sign. Chances are that the offensive will be more explosive in 2016 also. However, it is difficult to predict how the improvement will translate in terms of wins.
Bonomo is in the second year of a rebuilding process that even if successful will take time. He has added a promosing recruiting class with a lot of high level competitive play under their belts which is a positive. He also has a solid amount of young, promising talent on board but the status quo will not produce the desired improvement. As a result the question heading into the 2016 season – and it's a big one – is the extent to which the returning players have improved and the ability of the newcomers to contribute right away.
Clearly improving productivity on the offensive side of the ball without a decline on the defensive side is one of the key critical success factors for Green Bay in 2016.
Finding a go-to goal scorer or two looks to be a priority. Senior forward William Nordenstrom and senior midfielder Audi Jepson are among the returning players who may prove to be the solution. Where there is a void there is opportunity. The newcomers will likely get a chance to show that they belong and can contribute to the attack. As a result one or two of them may emerge as the answer to the void on the offensive side of the ball.
The ability of the coaching staff to breed positive chemistry while merging in a lot of new faces with the returning players is another critical success factor.
Rebuilding involves a series of small successes that are cumulative building blocks that pave the way for further improvement. It appears that the coaching staff began to put in place a solid foundation last year which is a step in the right direction. There is reason for excitement at Green Bay heading into the 2016 campaign. However, the level of progress the program makes in 2016 will depend on their ability to fill the voids that exist, generate momentum, and build on what they accomplished last year.