- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On August 29, 2012
- 0 Comments
- 2012 College Soccer, Features, Home Grown Players
It has been an exciting few months for the MLS academy system as it continues to grow and produce quality young players throughout the league.
Now with the new college soccer season kicking off this past week, home grown players are all over the country playing for various colleges. This fall’s freshman class is one of the best we’ve seen thanks to the players from the MLS academies. A few MLS sides are loaded with talent in the college system.
Below are some names to familiarize yourself with for the upcoming season. These are players that could one day end up in a MLS uniform.
(Hat tip to TopDrawerSoccer.com for contributing some of the names to the list below. I mostly stuck to the teams that I know have loads of academy players like Chicago, D.C., Dallas, NY and Seattle with a couple other clubs mixed in. I will try to add to this list as the season goes forward and if you know of a player that is associated with a club that is not listed here, feel free to drop me a note or a comment with details on him and I’ll check them out! )
Ian Christianson (Georgetown, Senior, Midfielder): One of the Hoyas captains, a leader on and off the field. From the games I’ve seen out of Georgetown over the last year or so, as Christianson goes, so will the Hoyas.
Bryan Ciesiulka (Marquette, Junior, Midfielder): Ciesiulka’s play over the summer saw him end up on the PDL All-Conference team. He’s not a flashy player and doesn’t score a ton but wingers are tough to come by as it is in college soccer and he certainly is one of the better ones.
Patrick Doody (Indiana, Sophomore, Defender): He wasn’t a full time starter in his freshman year but you will certainly see him more in year two. A move to left back could spark his career.
Harry Shipp (Notre Dame, Junior, Midfielder): Shipp should see more minutes this season for the Irish and be a bigger factor on offense.
Chris Prince (Wisconsin, Junior, Forward): Chicago is just loaded with talent in the middle of the country. He was second team all-Big Ten as a sophomore and could see a big year with the Badgers this season as one of the team’s leaders up top.
Ian Hines-Ike (Seattle University, Sophomore, Defender): He nearly scored a Home Grown contact with Chivas but dropped off quickly after moving to LA. He’s now with Seattle U and should be getting back on the radar with Chivas.
James Rogers (New Mexico, Sophomore, Midfielder): This kid has serious pace about him on the wing. He’s one tough player too. He still needs some playing time to get him ready for the next level but the tools and passion are there.
Patrick Slogic (Cornell, Junior, Defender) – A 6-foot-6 defender. Not many coaches in MLS will turn down quality size like that in their defense.
Andy Lubahn (Wake Forest, Senior, Midfielder) – He lead Wake in points over the last two seasons. He’ll need an even bigger senior season to secure a HGP contract given the competition that the Crew have in their academy pipeline.
Chad Barson (Akron, Senior, Defender) – Another quality player in the pipeline. A starting center back with loads of experience for the Zips. He’s got some serious competition for a HGP spot though.
Wil Trapp (Akron, Sophomore, Midfielder) – A kid I’ve been talking about for a season now. Trapp is a deep-lying holding midfielder and member of the U20 national side. He’ll get a pro contract from the Crew one day, it just depends on how good of a season he has this year or if it will be next year.
Matt Wiet (UCLA, Senior, Defender) – Barson’s competition that I talked about. The Bruins defense is lead by Wiet and the senior has been a huge part of their success these last couple of years.
Chris Hegngi (Ohio State, Senior, Forward) – He’s been doing very well over the last few years at Ohio State. He lead the Buckeyes in scoring last year. He has the size and the tools needed to be a solid addition next year for Ben Olsen.
Peabo Doue (West Virginia, Senior, Midfielder) – He’s one of the main offensive figures for WVU. Head coach Marlon LeBlanc has told me a couple times that this kid has all the tools to be a special player, if he has a stellar senior year for the Mountaineers it could lead to bigger and better things. (Note he’s already off to a good start with a goal and an assist on the year)
Uwem Etuk (West Virginia, Senior, Midfielder) – Another attacking talent for LeBlanc and WVU. Etuk needs another strong season to capture the attention of Olsen and the United brass. He’s got decent pace and can contribute from both sides of the field. He’ll need to improve his finishing to reach the next level but he’s got plenty to offer.
Travis Pittman (West Virginia, Senior, Defender/Midfielder) – Yes, United has a lot of kids at WVU. Pittman is a very talent holding-midfielder. He’s the engine in the center of the midfield for the Mountaineers. He’s already got a goal and an assist on the season. He would be a nice backup option for Perry Kitchen going forward for Ben Olsen.
London Woodberry (Maryland, Senior, Defender) – One of the most talent center backs in the country. He turned down an offer from FCD last year for a chance at a College Cup. If he has another strong season, Dallas will have to make a better offer and get him on board to team up with Matt Hedges and Hernan Pertuz (folks in DFW are already thinking of the future without Ugo Ihemelu and George John, just so you know).
Boyd Okwuonu (North Carolina, Sophomore, Defender) – Another defender that many are really excited for here in Dallas. Mainly because everyone wants to see him and Hedges teamed up together again in the defense for Schellas Hyndman. He’s a beast of a player that really controls the field well and will become a leader in the defense for the defending national champions.
Bradlee Baladez (South Carolina, Junior, Forward) – FCD continues to really monitor this kid’s progress. He’e one of the top offensive leaders for USC and he has the talent to make a name for himself. He needs to distinguish himself from the other attacking options that FCD has in their HGP camp though.
Jack Coleman (Duke, Sophomore, Defender) – Coleman transfered to Duke from Indiana because of playing time – or lack there of really. If he can get some solid minutes with the Blue Devils and continue to improve from his academy play, he’ll be an option down the road for Hyndman.
Mikey Ambrose (Maryland, Freshman, Defender) – The US U18 national team captain has held his own with the academy squads here in Dallas. He’s a fullback which as many of you know are a dime a dozen in MLS. If he can log some good minutes this year for Maryland, he’ll certainly get some attention for a HGP contract.
Danny Garcia (North Carolina, Freshman, Midfielder) – He’s really a high risk/high reward type kid. He doesn’t have the size but he does have speed and talent to make up for it.
Leo Ayala (Central Florida, Sophomore, Defender) – A left back that started 13 games last year as a freshman. The Dynamo are likely hoping he sticks around at UCF for the full four years and continues to develop into a quality option at fullback.
Sebastien Ibeagha (Duke, Junior, Defender/Midfielder) – He’s received offers in the past and is easily one of the most MLS-ready guys in the college game right now. Most figure though that he’ll take his game overseas when he is ready instead of going the MLS route to Houston.
Gyasi Zardes (CSU Bakersfield, Junior, Forward) – Arguably one of the best attacking options in college right now. LA and MLS have already offered him a contract before according to reports. Expect him to continue on at CSUB and finish out his degree before cashing in with the Galaxy. In all honesty, given what LA has up top right now, he’s wise to stick it out another season or two before he signs with the Galaxy.
New England Revolution
Scott Caldwell (Akron, Senior, Midfielder) – He’ll sign once this season is out, no doubt about it in my mind. He’s trained with the Revs a few times over the summer and if he can lead Akron to another College Cup, the Revs will have no choice but to offer him a good deal. He’s the main cog in the Zips’ attack and will be a big reason why they do well in 2012.
Cole Denormandie (Cincinnati, Sophomore, Forward) – I recall the last great striker at UC from my days in college was Omar Cummings. Denormandie could very well be the next best thing for the Bearcats’ hopes in 2012. He scored seven goals in a very conservative offense. I think another year or two will serve him well before New England comes calling.
New York Red Bulls
Keith Cardona (Maryland, Sophomore, GK) – The lone keeper on this list and the Red Bulls have him. I don’t expect him to sign with New York anytime soon but he’s definitely an exciting prospect in goal.
Sean Davis (Duke, Sophomore, Midfielder) – He’ll get plenty of playing time in his second season at Duke. He started 10 games last year and showed well. He’s got to make some serious strides though over the next two seasons if he wants a MLS deal.
Bryan Gallego (Akron, Sophomore, Defender) – He will be a starting figure on the back line for Akron this year as they push for a title.
Dan Metzger (Maryland, Sophomore, Midfielder) – He played for the US U20 side this summer that played at the Milk Cup. He’ll need to log more minutes this season to catch anyone’s eyes but based on the few games I caught that featured him off the bench last year, he’s got some talent to him.
The Timbers have a couple players currently in college that are potential HGPs. It all depends on if MLS recognizes their claim to the players.
Steven Evans (Portland, Junior, Midfielder) – All-West Coast Conference with 6 goals, 5 assists last year. From what I’ve been told he has good skills and could end up like current Timbers’ defender Brent Richards in terms of a HGP claim.
Real Salt Lake
Some of the players in the RSL-AZ system could be included here.
Cole Nagy (UCLA, Freshman, Midfielder) – A couple RSL fans pointed out this kid. He’s a midfielder/defender that could fight for some minutes early on.
Seattle Sounders FC
Darwin Jones (Washington, Sophomore, Forward) – The speedy striker could very well be a force in the college game this year. I’d say he’ll stick around for at least one more season but he’ll be a solid bet at a pro contract if he bags a good amount of goals this fall.
Sean Okoli (Wake Forest, Sophomore, Forward) – He’s got to get more minutes this fall in Winston Salem. The tools are there and based on some of the games I saw him in last season, he has some skill either up top or in the midfield to be a solid player down the road.
DeAndre Yedlin (Akron, Sophomore, Defender) – A name that many Sounders fans are excited about. He’s a lock to be a starter at right back this fall and his speed down the wing could make him an intriguing option for Sigi Schmid in the future.
Nick Palodichuk (Duke, Sophomore, Forward) – He had a strong freshman year by scoring eight goals and adding in six assists. Many consider him to be the next Andrew Wenger at Duke but some do worry that there could be a sophomore slump without Wenger there as well. Palodichuk is a special talent though and one that I am very excited to see grow this season.