As the NCAA Men’s Soccer tournament kicks off this week (it started on Thursday), you’ll begin to see many of the top names in college soccer making the rounds. Top Drawer Soccer has already started with the Mock Drafts (if you are interested in more on college soccer, they're a great resource), and you can expect others to follow suit.
This week, I bring you some names from two Big East schools: first, the number 4 seed in the tournament, the University of Connecticut (UCONN). The UCONN Huskies are another powerhouse with strong players who should make MLS rosters in the coming years. Last year, they barely missed out on the College Cup when they lost in penalty kicks to eventual finalists UNC-Charlotte. Penalty kicks have actually long been the downfall of the Huskies, as they saw themselves out of the 2010 tournament for the same reason. This year, they’re looking to make it to Hoover, Alabama and contend for the title. Their roster boasts many talented names you should familiarize yourself with.
Carlos Alvarez – The senior midfielder from Los Angeles is the playmaker for the Huskies. With 6 goals and 8 assists last season, Alvarez helped lead the Huskies into the NCAA tournament before their unfortunate upset. He stormed the college ranks last season, making his name known as one of the top attacking players in the game. However, some say that this could be his downfall when it comes to MLS. His technical skills and attack-minded game may go against him. He has been compared by some to San Jose Earthquakes player Rafael Baca, and with the right team, could excel.
Andre Blake – Blake is one of the top goalkeepers in the game. As a freshman, Blake recorded 0.39 goals against average, the second best in the NCAA last season. However, there are two things that could go against him for this year’s draft. Because it’s rare to have more than a few goalkeepers taken by teams in the draft, his status as a sophomore might keep him in college a little bit longer. There are other options that are older, and the league would have to offer Blake a Generation Adidas contract in order for him to leave. The second obstacle is that he is Jamaican. I’m unsure of whether or not he has U.S. citizenship (he attended high school in Jamaica, and has played on their youth national teams), but if he doesn’t, he would require an international roster spot.
Max Wasserman – The senior defender is a bit of an unknown entity, in terms of the popularity of his name. This is due in part to his season ending injury he got last October. He’s not someone who many people have talked about in the past, but he’s not someone to sleep on. Along with Alvarez, Wasserman has helped provide strong senior leadership for the Huskies. Additionally, he is one of the reasons the Huskies have such a strong backline. With only 10 goals allowed this season, Wasserman is someone to keep an eye out for.
Mamadou Doudou Diouf – The Senegalese forward has been one of the top goal scorers in college soccer for a while. With 13 goals and 2 assists last season, Diouf tore apart defenses and helped take the Huskies far. Diouf also has 13 goals on this season, and you can expect him to score many more as the tournament goes on.
The second Big East team with some pro prospects is number 3 ranked Georgetown. The Hoyas are a team on the rise – they’ve always done decently, and last year just missed out on the NCAA tournament. This year, with the number 3 seed, many people are picking them to make it to the College Cup. Admittedly, I haven’t had the chance to watch Georgetown like I have other schools, but you can bet I’ll have my eye on them for the next month (and so should you!).
Ian Christianson – The Chicago Fire academy product is the heart of the Hoyas midfield. While he may only have 2 goals and 1 assist this season, the senior central midfielder is known more for his ability to connect the defense and the midfield, and for breaking up play in the center of the field.
Tommy Muller – The senior defender is known for his abilities on the ball, and for reading the game well. One knock on him is his size. At 5’11 and 168 pounds, he may not have the ability to be a strong central defender in a league as physical as MLS.
Steve Neumann – With 10 goals and 8 assists in 2010, and 11 goals and 7 assists last season, the junior midfielder is a consistent playmaker for the Hoyas. Because Neumann is a junior, we may not see him available for the draft this season. However, he is someone to watch out for in the future.
Jimmy Nealis – Nealis is seen as one of the top outside backs. The senior left back is known for moving forward and plays extremely well in Georgetown possession and attacking game. However, whether or not his defensive capabilities are strong enough for the next level is the question with him.
Tyler Rudy – Rudy is one of the top sophomores in the game. The DC United Academy graduate appeared in all games for the Hoyas in freshman year. He is a versatile midfielder/defender, and has always been a rock for the team.
Andy Riemer – The senior forward is one the key players in the Hoyas attack this season. His experience and skill has helped lead Georgetown to their number 3 seed. He may not be one of the big names amongst forwards, but expect him to get a Combine invite.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!