The UA Men's Soccer Insider

Strong Signings Continue for Akron under Embick

Many critics worried about the direction of the Akron men’s soccer program after the departure of Caleb Porter to MLS.  If this signing class is any indication, there is absolutely no reason to worry.  New head coach (and Porter’s former top assistant) Jared Embick is picking up where Porter left off.  The future of Akron men’s soccer is very bright.  As they always say “Akron doesn’t rebuild; they just reload.”

That was certainly the case here as Embick officially announced the 10 members of the Zips’ 2013 signing class Monday.

In all, the Zips will welcome nine incoming freshmen and a college transfer. Furthermore, the group includes a member of the U.S. Under-18 national team player pool, two high school All-Americans and three internationals. We are talking about players associated with the likes of npower Championship side Blackpool, EPL giant Chelsea, legendary Brazilian club Corinthians, and Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls. Very impressive indeed.

And sources tell us the 2014 class is going to be even better.  That’s not a surprise as early commit Bryce Cregan was coveted by many top programs across the country.  But he chose Akron and did it early.

Midfielder Clint Caso (Kinnelson, N.J./St. Benedict Preparatory School/N.Y. Red Bulls Academy/New Hampshire), defender Louis Cross (Lancashire, England/Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School/Blackpool FC Academy), midfielder Robby Dambrot (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary HS/Internationals SC), goalkeeper Jonny DeMoya (Olney, Md./Sherwood HS/Baltimore Bays Academy), defender Riley Grant (Copley, Ohio/Copley-Fairlawn HS/Internationals SC), defender Brett Gravatt (Dunn Loring, Va./IMG Academy [Fla.]), midfielder Adam Najem (Clifton, N.J./Paramus Catholic/ N.Y. Red Bulls Academy), midfielder Tyler Sanda (North Royalton, Ohio/St. Ignatius HS/Internationals SC), striker Ismail Seremba (London, England/Chelsea Academy) and midfielder Victor Souto (Sao Paolo, Brazil/Sport Club Corinthians Paulista) will continue their careers with the Zips this fall.

Souto has gotten a headstart on his fellow recruits, enrolling at Akron in January. He looked sharp in spring scrimmages and looks to be a player that can contribute immediately.

“We feel we have put together a strong class that enhances the quality and depth of our team,” Embick said. “It is important that our players have the ability to play the Akron way and we feel we have done a great job of identifying talented players who will adapt quickly to our system. All these players are technically gifted and have a high soccer IQ and we are confident they will help continue the success and tradition of Akron soccer.”

Akron swept the Mid-American Conference regular-season and tournament titles for the fifth time in six years in 2012 and claimed the nation’s No. 1-ranking in the final poll of the regular season before advancing to the Round of 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight year. UA will return nine letterwinners and five starters this fall, including leading goal scorer Reinaldo Brenes and center back Bryan Gallego.

The success of the program is both a blessing and a curse. The top recruits want to play there, but they often leave early to pursue a pro career. Often times quality players choose to transfer as was the case this spring as four players left the program in search of more playing time.

This offseason was much of the same as Dillon Serna, Wil Trapp, and DeAndre Yedlin left for the riches of MLS.  Chad Barson and Scott Caldwell signed Homegrown Player contracts while David Meves went in the MLS Supplemental Draft. Even Tommy Schmitt, who started his senior season as a top pro prospect, continues to ply his trade as one of the top strikers in the NPSL.

Clint Caso, MF, Kinnelon, N.J. (St. Benedict Preparatory School/N.Y. Red Bulls Academy/New Hampshire)
New York Red Bulls Academy … helped the Red Bulls win the USYSA New Jersey U-15 State Championship in 2008 and qualified for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Finals Week … was a two-time, first team all-state honoree at St. Benedict Preparatory School … led St. Benedict’s Prep to three straight New Jersey State Prep Championships (2008-2010) … appeared in eight matches, making six starts, at the University of New Hampshire as a freshman … recorded an assist and nine shots on goal for the Wildcats, who advanced to the championship match of the America East Tournament.

Louis Cross, D, Lancashire, England (Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School/Blackpool FC Academy)
Developed in Blackpool FC Academy since he was eight years old … Blackpool FC youth team captain … captained his country on a tour of Scandinavia and was named England’s U-16 Independent Soccer Player of the Year … also named League Football Education’s Apprentice of the Month for February of 2013.

Robby Dambrot, MF/D, Akron, Ohio (St. Vincent-St. Mary HS/Internationals SC)
Three-time all-district honoree … team MVP … led St. Vincent-St. Mary High School to the regional championship in 2007 and a runner-up finish in 2008 … totaled 15 goals and 26 assists in three years for the Irish … played club soccer for Internationals SC of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy during his senior year … won seven consecutive state cup championships from 2006-2012 … rated a three-star recruit by Top Drawer Soccer … also earned a varsity letter in basketball … son of current Zips men’s basketball head coach Keith Dambrot.

Jonny DeMoya, GK, Olney, Md. (Sherwood HS/Baltimore Bays Academy)
Played club soccer for the Baltimore Bays of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy … 2011 All-Gazette (Md.) honoree … rated a three-star recruit by Top Drawer Soccer.

Riley Grant, D, Copley, Ohio (Copley-Fairlawn HS/Internationals SC)
Rated 12th-best prospect in the Great Lakes Region and a four-star recruit, according to Top Drawer Soccer … led Copley-Fairlawn High School to district and regional championships, and the state semifinals as a junior … scored 16 goals, including seven game-winners, while tallying eight assists in that breakout season, earning All-Ohio Second Team honors … played club soccer for the Internationals SC of the US Soccer Development Academy as a senior … played on three Ohio Youth Soccer Association North State Cup Champion teams (2010, 2011, 2012) … also played club soccer with Everest SC Black (2009-12) and Ohio Select Futbol Club (2005-09).

Brett Gravatt, D, Dunn Loring, Va. (IMG Academy [Fla.])
Product of the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. … scored 10 goals in his first two seasons … spent time training in Barcelona and Holland … invited to the Dallas Cup three times … three-star recruit, according to Top Drawer Soccer.

Adam Najem, MF, Clifton, N.J. (Paramus Catholic HS/N.Y. Red Bulls Academy)
No. 1-ranked recruit in the state of New Jersey and No. 7 midfielder in the country, according to Top Drawer Soccer … rated a five-star recruit by TDS … member of the U.S. Under-18 National Team player pool … NSCAA Boys Youth All-American … member of the New York Red Bulls Academy of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy … led his Under-16 Academy team to the national title in 2012 with the game-winning assist … ranked No. 35 on ESPNHS’s Top 150 Class of 2013.

Tyler Sanda, MF, North Royalton, Ohio (St. Ignatius HS/Internationals SC)
NSCAA High School All-American … rated 13th-best prospect in the Great Lakes Region and a four-star recruit by Top Drawer Soccer … Ohio’s co-Player of the Year in Division I and a first-team all-state honoree … named Mr. Soccer for 2012 by the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association … first-team All-Greater Cleveland and Greater Cleveland Player of the Year … finished his high school career with 29 goals, including seven game-winners, and 19 assists … led the powerhouse Wildcats program, which won the national championship in 2010, to a collective record of 82-3-3 … played club soccer for the Internationals SC of the US Soccer Development Academy.

Ismail Seremba, F, London, England (Chelsea Academy)
Ugandan descent, London-born … with the Chelsea Academy since the Under-13′s… debuted in the Chelsea Under 18-team during the 2010-11 season, scoring two goals in seven appearances … made 24 appearances, including 11 starts, the following season and found the back of the net five times … also made three appearances in reserve matches.

Victor Souto, MF, Sao Paolo, Brazil (Sport Club Corinthians Paulista)
Developed in Corinthians prestigious youth academy for 10 years … captain of Corinthians Youth National Championship squad in 2009.

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Late Equalizer Gives Akron Draw with Maryland

COLLEGE PARK, MD - April 27, 2013 - The University of Akron men's soccer team wrapped up its spring exhibition schedule on a strong note, playing 2012 NCAA semifinalist Maryland to a 1-1 draw at Ludwig Field Saturday.

The Zips, who were playing without starters Reinaldo Brenes and Robbie Derschang due to injuries, rallied from a 1-0 deficit when Zac Portillos took a pass from Aodhan Quinn and buried the equalizer late in the match.

"We came here to win so we're not satisfied with the draw," said UA head coach Jared Embick. "That being said, we had an outstanding effort from our players. In particular, some of our young players grew a lot today and performed well against an elite team. I am excited for the potential of our team next fall."

UA lost its third starter to injury in the 41st minute when Bryan Gallego came off after a collision. The Terrapins took advantage, drawing first blood just minutes later when Jereme Raley finished a cross from Mikey Ambrose.

Saturday's match capped off another strong spring season for UA. In all, the Zips posted a record of 3-1-1 in five exhibitions and outscored the opposition 7-2 despite a rash of injuries and new personnel. Moreover, in its four contests against NCAA Tournament qualifiers from a year ago, the Zips went 3-0-1.

Akron Men Struggle with Butler

The University of Akron men's soccer team fell behind early and couldn't catch up in a 1-0 spring exhibition defeat at Butler Sunday afternoon.

Experimenting with a new shape and playing without a number of key players, the Zips allowed a counterattack goal in the first minute of the match. UA found its stride shortly thereafter and had the ball for much of the contest – putting together a number of quality moments – but couldn't find the equalizer.

"We wanted to look at a new formation and the spring is the best time to do that," said UA head coach Jared Embick. "That being said, we are disappointed with the result today. The early goal was the result of slow play. Once we settled in, we performed well but just couldn't find that breakthrough goal."

The Zips played the match without starters Bryan Gallego and Robbie Derschang as a result of injuries. Eric Stevenson, who missed last week's 2-0 win versus Xavier, was limited to 45 minutes Sunday.

The goal was the first allowed by Akron through the first four exhibition matches this spring.

UA, which announced its fall schedule last Thursday, will play its final spring match next Saturday at NCAA College Cup participant Maryland. Game time is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET.

Akron Men's Soccer Dominates Xavier

AKRON, OH - April 13, 2013 - Akron quickly dispatched Xavier with a 2-0 scoreline Saturday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Pam Moody/ISNSoccer.comIt only took three minutes for Zac Portillos to score a  goal after breaking away from the Musketeer defense.

This was followed by another Akron goal in the second half from Aodhan Quinn. This goal was all about playing together as a team as Saad-Abdul Salaam and Matt Foldesy combined to set up Quinn from 12 yards out.  Salaam launched a cross into the box, where it was controlled by Foldesy, who deftly backheeled it to Quinn for the score.

Xavier never really threatened Zips keeper Jake Fenlason, who got his first start of the spring.  Akron dominated possession and the stat sheet, out-shooting the visitors 12-6 overall and 5-2 on goal.

It was another strong performance from the Zips, who earned their third shutout of the spring.  Further challenges exist in the coming weeks as Akron faces Butler and Maryland on the road to round out their spring schedule.

Event Photos

  • Four Akron players are expected to transfer, including Alfred Koroma, Andrian McAdams, and Andy Chiu.  Koroma struggled through illness, injuries, and just plain bad luck last year. He is eyeing Creighton and SMU as possible places for a fresh start.
  • This spring game was all about seeing what players were capable of.  Coach Embick experimented with shape and formation throughout the match, playing with a 4-2-4 and 4-2-3-1 at times.
  • You can't judge who will start in the fall by this matchup.  Akron will be bringing in 6-8 recruits, several of which are international players with serious credentials.
  • Freshman Victor Souto was already in camp for the spring.  The Brazilian midfielder arrives from Sao Paolo and the Corinthians youth system.  He is expected to contribute immediately as the team believes he has the makings of something special.
  • Matt Foldesy, a midfielder from North Olmsted (OH), looks ready to be a key cog in the Akron attack.  He put in a quality performance on Saturday and we are excited to see what he will do against even better competition in the form of Butler and Maryland later this month.

Akron Men's Soccer Dominates Kentucky in Spring Exhibition

AKRON, OH - April 6, 2013 - A dominating performance by The University of Akron men's soccer team resulted in a 3-0 exhibition win over Kentucky at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field Saturday afternoon.

Second-half goals from Saad Abdul-Salaam, Matt Foldesy and Eric Stevenson were more than enough as the Zips were rarely threatened in their second spring game of the season. In all, UA out-shot Kentucky, 21-3, and generated 12 corner kicks to UK's one.

"I am happy with the result and progress we have made from out last game," said Akron head coach Jared Embick. "To beat an NCAA Tournament team 3-0 shows we are on the right path. We showed more confidence and chemistry today."

After the teams played to a scoreless first half, Akron found the net early after the break. A cross from Robbie Derschang was met by Aodhan Quinn, who saw his shot saved but only to the feet of Abdul-Salaam who tapped it in to the empty goal.

Akron came close to doubling its lead with 26 minutes left when a Quinn free kick was just kept out. Foldesy would get Akron's second just minutes later however as he collected the ball in the 18-yard box and slotted the Wildcats' keeper.

Freshman goalkeeper Fernando Pina, who recorded his second shutout in as many matches this spring, would not be tested until the 81st minute when he made three saves in the span of two minutes. His second was a sprawling save following a diving header from a Kentucky striker.

With 6:40 to go in the game, Brenes earned Akron a penalty kick after being fouled in the box. Quinn's penalty hit off the post but Stevenson was there to clean it up.

Akron played well in the first half and created a number of chances but could not break through despite out-shooting the Wildcats 10-0 overall and 3-0 on goal.

The Zips will stay at home for their next exhibition match when they play host to Xavier Saturday (Apr. 13) at Noon.

Strong Start for the Zips

CLEVELAND, OH - March 8, 2013 - A shorthanded University of Akron men's soccer team earned a 1-0 exhibition victory at Horizon League champion Cleveland State Friday night at Krenzler Soccer Field.

Striker Reinaldo Brenes took a pass from Bryan Gallego and slotted the game winner in the first half for Akron, which was playing without starters Robbie Derschang and Aodhan Quinn due to injuries. Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Fernando Pina went the distance in picking up the clean sheet.

"It wasn't a particularly pretty performance at times and we have a lot to improve on," said UA head coach Jared Embick. "But for our first spring game, it was great to get a result against a team that qualified for the NCAA Tournament and returns eight starters."

Friday night was the first of the five spring matches for the Zips, who will have nearly a month to prepare for their next opponent. Akron will play its only two home contests of the spring on April 6 and 13 when Kentucky and Xavier visit FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.

The Zips will then close out their spring schedule on the road at Butler (Apr. 21) and Maryland (Apr. 27).

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