1. UCLA. The UCLA attack that was so brilliant in the late going of the 2006 season lost U.S. U-20 Sal Zizzo, who signed with German club Hannover, and won't have Soccer America Freshman of the Year David Estrada for perhaps the first three weeks of the season. Estrada underwent foot surgery last week for a fractured metatarsal.
Kyle Nakazawa and Jason Leopoldo return, along with Maxwell Griffin, who was out for the latter half of the 2006 season.
Besides Zizzo, the Bruins had two other players representing the USA at the U-20 World Cup -- right back Tony Beltran and goalie Brian Perk -- and three UCLA players were at the Pan-American Games -- Greg Folk, Chance Myers and Michael Stephens.
The backline will be solid with Brandon Owens, who missed the 2006 season, fellow senior Mike Zaher, an all-American candidate, and junior Brad Rusin.
Preseason Notebook: Freshman Kyle McAthy scored on his first touch in his first minute of play in the Bruins' 2-2 tie with N.C. State in their only exhibition game.
2. WAKE FOREST. After advancing to the Men's College Cup for the first time, the Deacons had three players taken in the first 30 picks of the 2007 MLS SuperDraft -- Wells Thompson, Ryan Solle and Steven Curfman -- but that shouldn't deter them.
Coach Jay Vidovich returns the nation's best defense, led by U-20 starter Julian Valentin and Pat Phelan on the backline and Ryan Edwards, a three-year starter in goal. Sam Cronin is the man in midfield, while Marcus Tracy, Michael Lahoud and Zach Schilawski are among Wake's many weapons up front.
Corben Bone, the 2006 NSCAA/adidas Youth Player of the Year, has started in preseason, while fellow
Preseason Notebook: Junior Jamie Franks shined in the preseason win over Cincinnati before more than 2,500 fans. Freshmen Jeff Leach and Ike Opara looked good in the 2-1 win.
3. DUKE. Retiring coach John Rennie will look to go out with a national championship. Rennie won a national title in 1986 when Duke beat Akron, 1-0. The '07 team is one of the best in Rennie's seniors played in the Men's College Cup as freshman and helped Duke achieve a No. 1 ranking as juniors.
Duke's huge (13-player) senior class includes 2006 Soccer America MVP Michael Videira, Spencer Wadsworth (79 points in three seasons) and Justin Papadakis in goal. Mike Grella (13 goals in 2006) leads the Blue Devil attack.
Preseason Notebook: The Blue Devils knocked off UConn, 1-0, on Saturday night in front of 5,324 fans at a jam-packed Morrone Stadium.
4. UC SANTA BARBARA. It's been more than 30 years since a West Coast school has repeated as national champion, but UCSB has a good shot in 2007. "We feel very, very good," says Coach Tim Vom Steeg of the Gauchos' 2007 prospects.
The Gauchos are returning Andy Iro, the nation's most intimidating defender, and Eric Avila, their most creative midfielder. Spaniard Nick Perera was named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player at the 2006 Men's College Cup.
Former U-17 goalie Bryant Rueckner should take over in goal, and three recruits should have an immediate impact -- two starters from the New Zealand U-20 national team, Sam Jenkins and Michael Boxall -- and transfer Ciaran O'Brien from San Diego.
Preseason Notebook: UCSB went 4-1-1 on a summer trip to Argentina. Boxall scored in the 2-0 victory in the 45th annual Bryant & Sons Cup against neighbor Westmont.
5. SMU. The 2006 season ended in disappointment for the Mustangs, who were coming off an appearance in the Men's
College Cup and returned just about their entire team. They went into the NCAA Tournament with only one loss but fell to UCSB in their first game.
Injuries hurt in 2006. Brown transfer Scott Geppert was lost in October to knee surgery, and Brazilian forward Paulo da Silva (abdominal pull) failed to show his late-season form of two years ago when he emerged as one of the nation's best teams. Geppert and da Silva return in 2007 along with another Brazilian transplant, Bruno Guarda, who had a strong sophomore season.
Preseason Notebook: The inaugural Jordan Mann SMU alumni game was played Saturday, paying tribute to Jordan Mann, who played for SMU the last two years and suddenly passed away from natural causes on May 26. Nearly 50 members of Jordan's family were present at the game. In memory of Jordan: "Live with Life with Passion!"
6. VIRGINIA. The downside of having your pick of the best talent out of high school is that they'll likely turn pro early if they do well. The Cavs had their best shot at winning a national title in a decade -- they fell to UCLA in the semifinals -- and lost underclassmen Nico Colaluca and Bakary Soumare to MLS teams. Also gone is senior Adam Cristman, who is thriving with the New England Revolution.
Cav fans should not fear, however. There's plenty of talent left. German giant Yannick Reyering could be the college game's best striker. Sophomore Jonathan Villanueva could be its niftiest playmaker.
Preseason Notebook: Inclement weather altered Virginia's preseason schedule several times. The Cavs downed South Florida, 1-0, in an exhibition Sunday morning on Jeremy Barlow's goal in the 21st minute.
7. MARYLAND. The Terrapins also lost two young studs: Chris Seitz and Maurice Edu both moved on to MLS after
only two seasons in College Park. Seitz was awesome for the USA at the U-20 World Cup; Seitz is a candidate for MLS Rookie of the Year.
But Terrapin coach Sasho Cirovski planned for their early departures. New Yorker Yannick Salmon (who plays for Jamaica's U-17s) is a versatile midfielder who can step in for Edu. Trinidadian newcomer Thorne Holder should take over in goal.
The Terps also have plenty of returning talent, led by midfielder Stephen King and Omar Gonzalez and Jeremy Hall -- both starters on the U.S. Pan-American Games team.
Preseason Notebook: The Terps went 2-0-1 in preseason, beating Fairleigh Dickinson (3-0) and the University of Montreal (3-2) and tying VCU (2-2) in a match that saw Cirovski rest King and several other starters.
8. SANTA CLARA. It was a busy offseason for the Broncos, who won their ninth WCC championship and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament.
Santa Clara toured Japan in the spring, splitting a pair of games against Kansai University, a semifinalist in Japan's strong university championship.
Three players traveled to Brazil in July to play on the U.S. Pan-American Games team -- sophomore midfielder Stephen McCarthy and a pair of freshmen, midfielder Jalil Anibaba and goalie Kevin Klasila.
McCarthy, the WCC's Co-Freshman of the Year in 2006, and Peter Lowry give the Broncos a solid foundation in midfield.
Preseason Notebook: Lowry was named to the Hermann Trophy Watch List.
9. NOTRE DAME. The eyes of all Irish supporters will be on Joseph Lapira, who became an Irish international when he was capped on the senior national team's tour of the United States in late May.
Lapira, who trained with Glasgow Rangers and Derby County over the summer, won the 2006 Hermann Trophy after leading the nation with 22 goals and six assists for 50 assists.
As evidenced by Notre Dame's 1-0 victory over Mexico's U-20 national team in the spring, the Irish should be contenders again in 2007. Lapira's supporting cast includes defender/midfielder Matt Besler and defenders Ryan Miler and Jack Traynor.
No team can match Notre Dame for its depth in goal with Chris Cahill and Andrew Quinn.
Preseason Notebook: Senior Kurt Martin had two goals and an assist in a 3-0 win over Northwestern. It was the second 3-0 Irish win over a Top 25 team. Notre Dame also beat New Mexico.
10. ST. JOHN'S. Last year was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Johnnies, who suffered massive defections. But David Masur pulled off one of the great coaching jobs in recent years, leading the Red Storm to the Big East title.
St. John's was the hottest team entering the NCAA Tournament.
Freshman Ryan Soroka scored five game-winning goals in a stretch of six games, and St. John's set a school record with seven straight shutouts before falling to Maryland in the second round. St. John's returns its top three scorers in Soroka (26 points), Tadeu Terra (11) and Jeff Stepan (10), and 6-foot-7 keeper Jason Landers is back for his senior season.
Former U.S. U-17 resident Michael Dal Pra enrolled at St. John's after a stint in Italian club Udinese's youth system.
Preseason Notebook: Soroka set up Colombian-born transfer Omar Alfonso for the only goal in a 1-1 tie with Hartwick.