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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