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2014 NCAA Division I Mens Soccer


VictoriaGooner

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The NCAA Div 1 Soccer season is only a month away and pre-season preparations are already underway in some universities. This thread will be the one stop place for College Soccer discussion on CCLSC.

With that, Top Drawer Soccer sent out an anonymous five-question survey to dozens of Division I coaches. The questions: the best goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, forward, and player in college soccer. Here are the results...

Best Goalkeeper

Despite losing most of the 2013 season to an injury, Washington goalkeeper Spencer Richey is still regarded as the best keeper in college soccer. The redshirt senior captured nearly 75 percent of the votes. Northwestern junior Tyler Miller, Maryland sophomore Zackary Steffen, and Marquette senior Charlie Lyon were the only other goalkeepers to earn multiple votes from the coaches. Despite a lackluster statistical season in 2013, coaches remained in awe of Miller and his quality in goal for the Wildcats. Steffen’s impressive freshman season was enough to earn the respect of a few coaches across the country.

Georgetown’s Thomas Gomez, Syracuse’s Alex Bono, and Army’s Winston Boldt all were mentioned as the best goalkeeper in college soccer as well.

Best Defender

Georgetown sophomore Joshua Yaro and UMBC senior Oumar Ballo were the only defenders to receive multiple votes from college coaches. Yaro was one of the many bright spots from last year’s impressive freshman class. The Right to Dream graduate stepped into the center back position for the Hoyas and immediately caught the eye of coaches across the country. Ballo earned the admiration of a few coaches after scoring two goals while starting all 20 games for the Retrievers last season. The center back headlined the UMBC defense that had a historic season with a 0.70 GAA and a 16-1-3 record.

North Carolina defenders Boyd Okwuonu and Jonathon Campbell each earned a vote from a coach. One coach saying that Campbell makes “everything look easy.” SIUE senior, and ex-PDL Victoria Highlanders FC, Matt Polster was also singled out as the best defender in college soccer. One coach said, “there are very few players in his position that have his combination of technique, passing range, athleticism, and game sense.”

Best Midfielder

Surprisingly, UCLA senior Leo Stolz was not the lone winner in this category as Virginia senior Eric Bird garnered the same amount of votes. Stolz, the 2013 MAC Hermann Trophy finalist, seemed like the obvious choice as he was one of the top players in college soccer last season. However, multiple coaches pointed to Bird’s performance at the 2013 College Cup as why they selected him as the best midfielder.

Notre Dame’s Patrick Hodan was the only other midfielder to be selected by multiple coaches. Hodan was given the moniker as the next great midfielder to come out of the Irish pipeline. One coach referred to Hodan as “elusive, technical, and smart.”

Michigan State’s Jay Chapman and Fatai Alashe, Washington’s Cristian Roldan, Connecticut’s Adria Beso, UC Irvine’s Mario Ortiz, Louisville’s Andrew Brody, Wisconsin’s Drew Conner and Maryland’s Michael Sauers all earned a vote each.

Best Forward

The votes were spread out over a few players in the forward position with Georgetown’s Brandon Allen, Delaware’s Guillermo Delgado, Connecticut’s Cyle Larin, Stanford’s Jordan Morris splitting the majority of the votes. Allen led the pack slightly as the Hoyas striker has high expectations on him with the departure of Stevie Neumann. Delgado, Larin, and Morris all enjoyed impressive freshman seasons last year. None of the coaches expected a sophomore slump from a member of the talented trio.

Virginia’s Darius Madison, Washington’s Darwin Jones, UCF’s Romario Williams, and Northwestern’s Joey Calistri each earned a vote from a coach. Clemson recruit Diego Campos and Duke recruit Jeremy Ebobisse Ebolo earned special mention from college coaches with expectations high on the freshmen-to-be.

Best Player

UCLA’s Leo Stolz slightly edged Stanford’s Jordan Morris for the honor of best player in college soccer. Stolz received one vote more than Morris out of over a dozen who were split between the two Pac-12 stars.

UMBC defender Oumar Ballo was the only other player to earn multiple votes from coaches.

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Top Drawer Soccer compiled an early look Top 10 Div 1 college soccer rankings going into the fall. Take heed as this was written at the end of April so things might have changed a bit in the landscape of college soccer but not much. But without further adou:

1. Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish lost quite a few key contributors from last year’s national championship squad, but the champs stay at No. 1 for this early look at the top ten for 2014. For the Irish to keep hold of this spot, Nick Besler will need to step up in his role as the leader of the squad from the center midfield position. Rising sophomore Brandon Aubrey will also need to have a breakout campaign for the Irish to hold off the hungry challengers in the ACC.

2. UCLA

With back-to-back top recruiting classes, there are some very lofty expectations for the Bruins in 2014. Adding to the pressure is the return of midfield general Leo Stolz who bypassed a Generation adidas offer from MLS to return to school and finish his degree. Stolz is the early favorite for the MAC Hermann Trophy and UCLA is the very early favorite to win the Pac-12 (assuming the top ranked recruiting class makes it to Westwood).

3. Maryland

The big story of 2014 for Maryland will be the move to the Big Ten. On the soccer field, it will be how the Terps hope to replace the production of Patrick Mullins. Even with that massive black hole, Maryland still returns star goalkeeper Zack Steffen and much of the defense, which should keep the squad in the hunt for the conference and national crowns.

4. Washington

The Huskies return Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Cristian Roldan along with top scorer Darwin Jones, as the squad in Seattle looks to change its identity in a post-flip throw world. Jones and Roldan make up the bulk of an exciting attack that should flourish in 2014.

5. Virginia

Freshman sensation Jordan Allen left early to take a Homegrown contract with Real Salt Lake, but Virginia still has one of the most talented squads in the country on paper including a plethora of capable goalkeepers.

6. Georgetown

The absence of Steve Neumann will make life difficult on the Hoyas in 2014 – especially through the early games – but a highly regarded incoming freshman class should help curb some of those woes. Also, rising sophomore Joshua Yaro is a brilliant eraser in the defense to clean up any mistakes in front of him.\

7. Stanford

The Cardinal needs to replace all-everything JJ Koval along with Aaron Kovar, but Corey Baird’s arrival paired with a more experienced Jordan Morris will make for one of the most dangerous attacks in the country.

8. North Carolina

The Tar Heels could not find much offense in 2013, but freshman-to-be Alan Winn should make an immediate impact and help diversify the attack. The return of Omar Holness will help Tar Heels control the midfield as well.

9. Louisville

Another year of Andrew Brody and Ricardo Velasco is welcome news for Cardinals fans. That’s really the cherry on top of 2014, which features a new stadium and the first season in the ACC.

10. Akron

Between the already on campus freshmen and transfers, the Zips have revitalized the lineup for 2014 and look to build toward another success-filled campaign.

Also in the running: New Mexico, Connecticut, California, Michigan State, Michigan, Marquette, Wake Forest, Penn State, UMBC, Cal State Northridge, Wisconsin, Loyola Marymount, Coastal Carolina, Delaware, South Florida

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MOD EDIT: If you honestly "don't give a :censored: about NCAA soccer", please refrain from posting that personal statement - along with the opinion that "[n]obody gives a :censored: about NCAA soccer" - in a thread expressly launched as "the one stop place for College Soccer discussion on CCLSC". Doing so adds nothing to the discussion to which this thread is dedicated.

Thank you.
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Yeah NCAA soccer is a tough one to follow. I'd be stoked if ASU had a soccer team, and would follow it if they did, but the PAC 12 only has six teams, and only five of them are true PAC 12 schools (San Diego State is in other conferences for almost every other sport I think).

Soccer just isn't popular enough at the college level yet, unfortunately. I think soon enough it will be though. I can see it growing quite a lot over the next few decades. It won't happen over night because finding additional funding for sports is always hard, but soccer has some things going for it that other sports don't. Tons of kids grow up playing soccer, it's relatively cheap to run an NCAA level soccer team (in comparison to other sports, anyway), and it even has favorable status with title IX due to it being played by both men and women.

It's not a guarantee that it'll ever match football, basketball, or even baseball, but it has potential.

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I know soccer doesn't draw the huge numbers like football and basketball does year-in, year-out. But there is a steady following of the sport at the college level. Some colleges and universities average anywhere between 1000-3000 people per match. NCAA Div 1 soccer has been a mainstream in the US college scene for over 50 years and will slowly grow. From a financial point of view, I agree it is cheaper to run a soccer program than a football or basketball program. And that's why a lot of smaller universities and colleges have a men's and women's soccer program. As for the Pac-12 only having six school is the conference, from what I have read that's due to areas of the Pac-12 where the schools are located the popularity of the sport of soccer. Soccer is very popular in the Midwest and Eastern united States, with the colleges out there jumping onboard with programs because they know how big the sport is becoming, especially after the 2014 World Cup.

At the present, the NCAA is the feeder system for MLS adidas Generation and MLS Draft at the moment. Yes, MLS gets most of their talent from overseas but some of the most talented kids in North America end up playing in Div 1 soccer and get noticed by an MLS club. That's all they need because if a scout from an international club see's them play in the MLS, then their career will blossom.

I do believe with the increase numbers of viewership for the World Cup between 2010 and 2014, the viewership of soccer in general in the US at all levels will trickle down: MLS, NASL, USL, NPSL and NCAA. I am a Canadian soccer supporter but have been following NCAA soccer for quite a number years now. I can see the potential. I myself am more excited to watch the Div 1 men's soccer College Cup or regular season match than a football bowl game or even March Madness. I was raised on soccer, it's in my blood.

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I know soccer doesn't draw the huge numbers like football and basketball does year-in, year-out. But there is a steady following of the sport at the college level. Some colleges and universities average anywhere between 1000-3000 people per match. NCAA Div 1 soccer has been a mainstream in the US college scene for over 50 years and will slowly grow. From a financial point of view, I agree it is cheaper to run a soccer program than a football or basketball program. And that's why a lot of smaller universities and colleges have a men's and women's soccer program. As for the Pac-12 only having six school is the conference, from what I have read that's due to areas of the Pac-12 where the schools are located the popularity of the sport of soccer. Soccer is very popular in the Midwest and Eastern united States, with the colleges out there jumping onboard with programs because they know how big the sport is becoming, especially after the 2014 World Cup.

At the present, the NCAA is the feeder system for MLS adidas Generation and MLS Draft at the moment. Yes, MLS gets most of their talent from overseas but some of the most talented kids in North America end up playing in Div 1 soccer and get noticed by an MLS club. That's all they need because if a scout from an international club see's them play in the MLS, then their career will blossom.

I do believe with the increase numbers of viewership for the World Cup between 2010 and 2014, the viewership of soccer in general in the US at all levels will trickle down: MLS, NASL, USL, NPSL and NCAA. I am a Canadian soccer supporter but have been following NCAA soccer for quite a number years now. I can see the potential. I myself am more excited to watch the Div 1 men's soccer College Cup or regular season match than a football bowl game or even March Madness. I was raised on soccer, it's in my blood.

My high school's football team draws around that.

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The "Indiana alum" line was my not so subtle giveaway about how little NCAA soccer moves the needle. Indiana's historically been the most dominant NCAA soccer program in the country (including 8 National titles). Indiana isn't good at all too many sports aside from basketball, and the needle still isn't moved.

EDIT, also only two schools joined Division I this year, and that was because they entered new Conferences for reasons that were not soccer-related. (Utah Valley because the WAC gets auto-bids in all sports and the burning down Great West did not, Pacific because the WCC has a better athletic profile and is made up of private schools (like Pacific) as opposed to the Big West's primary lineup of 3rd-tier California public school athletic departments.)

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I will agree with you that Indiana has been one of the dominant sides in NCAA Div 1 soccer over the last fifty years, next to Saint Louis (10 national titles) and Virginia (6 national titles). But just because the needle hasn't really moved due to the number of championships won by "Indiana Alumini" doesn't make NCAA soccer a joke. Soccer has been growing since 1994 in the US with the World Cup. Then the introduction of MLS in 1996 help fuel those embers from the 1994 World Cup. It will continue to grow with buildup of the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup with MLS leading the way. And for new fresh players to fill the MLS, NASL and USL club ranks, the NCAA will be that avenue for young players to hone their skills. There's another reason why the USL Premier Developmental League was started so that off-season NCAA players (U23) would have a chance to continue to play in the spring/summer to great ready for the Fall NCAA soccer programs. Everything has it's purpose and saying no one :censored: cares about NCAA soccer, how about you ask the people at MLS, NASL, USL...even better yet ask US Soccer. They will all tell you NCAA soccer is the backbone for the growth of soccer, both domestically and internationally, for the US. :smileyusa:

I thought it would be good to have NCCA Div 1 soccer it's own thread due to it's college based and not under the semi-professional (USL PDL) and professional soccer umbrella (MLS, NASL, USL PRO). Hell college football, basketball and even baseball have their own season long threads on CCSLC...why can't soccer? :welcome:

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In a US soccer world that has MLS organizations starting their own academy teams, the NCAA really doesn't have a developmental role anymore. Pro teams don't have control over players when they go to college due to the NCAA's own rules regarding amateurism, so it is increasingly outside the professional U.S. soccer "pyramid". No, college soccer is facing a dead end.

As for why football, basketball, and baseball get their own threads....well people give far more of a crap nationally about the first two, and regionally about the third.

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Then I guess you don't watch much MLS or even notice the MLS Draft each and every year - how many players are currently playing in the MLS due to NCAA? A fair number. Yes clubs have setup Academys but it isn't the same level of competition that they would get in the NCAA. That's why the MLS, NASL and USL PRO are still using the NCAA as a developmental tool for fresh incoming players into their leagues. College soccer is not facing a dead end, it is starting to blossom because of expansion in MLS, NASL and USL PRO. More chances for the talented college players to get a chance to play professionally.

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Then I guess you don't watch much MLS or even notice the MLS Draft each and every year - how many players are currently playing in the MLS due to NCAA? A fair number. Yes clubs have setup Academys but it isn't the same level of competition that they would get in the NCAA. That's why the MLS, NASL and USL PRO are still using the NCAA as a developmental tool for fresh incoming players into their leagues. College soccer is not facing a dead end, it is starting to blossom because of expansion in MLS, NASL and USL PRO. More chances for the talented college players to get a chance to play professionally.

Taken from this article: http://americansoccernow.com/articles/does-mls-block-college-underclassmen-from-draft (which argues that more NCAA underclassmen should be allowed to declare for the draft, a point that I both agree with and know would only further damage the quality of play in NCAA soccer.)

But even the most hard-core advocates for the college game conceded that the NCAA’s short season and limits on practice time inhibit player development.

So while four-year college players like Geoff Cameron, Graham Zusi, and Matt Besler continue to carry the banner for college soccer, most of the elite players in the U.S. either don’t play college soccer or leave early. Of the 64 players to have been capped under Jurgen Klinsmann, 27 didn’t play college soccer at all, and 23 others left college before their senior seasons.

There seems to be a general sense that the NCAA is part of the player development problem confronting US pro leagues, and that it probably isn't part of the solution.

Yeah, the majority of current MLS rosters have college alums, but that's primarily a symptom of the newness of the MLS academies-their players haven't had the time yet to hit the big leagues. That's going to change, though, as the MLS teams are expending most of their player development energies in the academies now. 10 years from now, the vast majority of MLS players will have come from the academies. You can count on it.

-------------------------

It is telling, that, even though athletic departments in major conferences such as the Big Ten have spent the last 5-10 years furiously looking for non-revenue sport rat holes to dump money down so they can have a paper trail that allows them to avoid paying revenue sport players, 5 of the Big Ten's member schools don't even have men's soccer programs (although I will concede that Title IX is probably a large part of that).

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MOD NOTE: There have been several posts to this thread, since removed, that called for it to be deleted, or merged with the 2014 Domestic Pro Soccer thread.

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Then I guess you don't watch much MLS or even notice the MLS Draft each and every year - how many players are currently playing in the MLS due to NCAA? A fair number. Yes clubs have setup Academys but it isn't the same level of competition that they would get in the NCAA. That's why the MLS, NASL and USL PRO are still using the NCAA as a developmental tool for fresh incoming players into their leagues. College soccer is not facing a dead end, it is starting to blossom because of expansion in MLS, NASL and USL PRO. More chances for the talented college players to get a chance to play professionally.

As long as the majority of the Power 5 Conference members do not field teamsz it NCAA Men's Soccer will still be no higher than #6 in terms of championships contested behind basketball, baseball, hockey, FCS, and lacrosse. They are grouped with swimming.

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I take what you're saying rams80 with respect to the so-called stifling of player development for the pro clubs. But the NCAA is an avenue for players to get their talent development that they normally couldn't get through the academies. Yes they are short seasons (August to December) but tie that to USL PDL play (May to July) - not including pre-seasons, that NCAA players are eligible to play in due to the league constructs of USL, that institutes 7 months worth of competitive play and development time per year a U23 player could have.

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One thing that would help ease the process of transitioning from the NCAA to the pros would be for the NCAA to adopt therules of FIFA. Have they not heard of the running clock?

Also, there is a deep resistance to the sport in certain areas, especially in SEC territory. If the SEC ever decided to add it en masse, it would likely be seen as a filler.

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I agree with the adopting FIFA Laws of the Game with respect to a running game clock from zero and up not from 45 minutes down with clock stoppages in the final two minutes plus when the ball goes out of play, goal scored. Have never been a fan of that.

There is always hope conferences like the SEC will get involved more. But time will tell. No matter how you see it, NCAA soccer is one of the better avenues for players to take advantage to hone their skills and get that shot at a professional contract when they wouldn't have otherwise. The level of quality of play is still really good, that's why I am a supporter of Div 1 college soccer.

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I agree with the adopting FIFA Laws of the Game with respect to a running game clock from zero and up not from 45 minutes down with clock stoppages in the final two minutes plus when the ball goes out of play, goal scored. Have never been a fan of that.

There is always hope conferences like the SEC will get involved more. But time will tell. No matter how you see it, NCAA soccer is one of the better avenues for players to take advantage to hone their skills and get that shot at a professional contract when they wouldn't have otherwise. The level of quality of play is still really good, that's why I am a supporter of Div 1 college soccer.

Be careful of what you wish for. If the SEC and Big XII get involved, they will not be starting programs. Some of those schools will pour millions of dollars into a program TO WIN, even in a non-revenue sport.

They would pilfer mid-major schools in terms of coaching talent, thus driving up the market for coaches in again, a non-revenue sport. I guess a new student fee would cover the increased salaries.

Then they would have to add another women's sport to offset the new 9.9 scholarships for men's soccer.

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I agree with the adopting FIFA Laws of the Game with respect to a running game clock from zero and up not from 45 minutes down with clock stoppages in the final two minutes plus when the ball goes out of play, goal scored. Have never been a fan of that.

There is always hope conferences like the SEC will get involved more. But time will tell. No matter how you see it, NCAA soccer is one of the better avenues for players to take advantage to hone their skills and get that shot at a professional contract when they wouldn't have otherwise. The level of quality of play is still really good, that's why I am a supporter of Div 1 college soccer.

Not without shooting the current interpretation of Title IX in the head. Besides, the SEC (and Big XII, to a lesser extent) have chosen baseball as their third sport rat hole. Primarily because you actually get some ROI there.

The other problem confronting the NCAA soccer programs is one of demographics. Lacrosse, AKA the actual NCAA growth sport, broadly draws from the same demographic pool that NCAA men's soccer draws from-middle and upper class whites. (Yes, there are exceptions, but in broad strokes, this is the case.) A large part of this is a consequence of the fact that both sports are treated as "equivalency" sports by the NCAA-each program technically gets enough money to pay for X number of scholarships, while you actually need Y number scholarships to field an effective roster. The money is divvied up among all of the players, with them making up the difference, and HELLO BARRIERS TO ENTRY FOR LOWER CLASS ATHLETES. That this is also a problem if you are laughably pushing player development, quite frankly, goes without saying.

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As for the mid-conference schools, they are doing well with current talent pools available to them in both coaching and player ranks. Yes with a big name conference like the SEC coming into the soccer scene there could be a chance of pilfering but I think a lot of youth players wanting to play for a reputable college will choose the already established mid conference colleges due to their scout connections, training regiments and programs. Yes the money could draw the reputable coaches to the big schools but that happens a in all sports at the college level.

Put quite bluntly, college sports in this country don't work that way. The majors by and large get the better players, regardless of when they become majors...particularly if they are spending money on the sport.

Look at that top drawer top 25: 16 play in major conferences, including the top 9. 4 more are FBS mid-majors (I'm putting the Bill the Cat league in this category), and only with #19 UMBC do you get your first honest-to-Belldandy mid-major. Mid-majors have a slightly easier time here than in some other sports, but only slightly and that does come with the caveat that large numbers of major conference schools don't even field teams. Last year's NCAA tournament had 19 overall (including 15 of the 26 at larges) and 10 of the seeded teams came from the 4 major conferences that field soccer teams.

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