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Top men's college recruiting classes
by Paul Kennedy, May 1st, 2009 8:30AM

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The College Soccer Reporter returns with Soccer America's top 15 men's college recruiting classes, version 2.0.

Akron is No. 1, though two ACC schools have moved up on our list, which includes only schools who have released their 2009 signings.

TOP 10
1. Akron
2. Maryland
3. UCLA
4. Stanford
5. California
6. North Carolina
7. Michigan
8. Virginia
9. Notre Dame
10. Saint Louis
11. UC Santa Barbara
12. West Virginia
13. Santa Clara
14. Georgetown
15. Indiana

1. AKRON. The Zips lost Hermann Trophy winner Steve Zakuani, who turned pro after his sophomore year and is with MLS's Seattle Sounders FC, but Coach Caleb Porter has again landed a stellar recruiting class, his third in a row since arriving in Akron.

Akron's signings include five former residents at the U.S. U-17 national team residency program in Bradenton, Fla. -- goalie David Meves, defenders Zarek Valentin and Chad Barson and midfielders Ben Speas and Scott Caldwell -- and Yoram Mwila, who was the captain of the U-17 Zambian national team.

That five former U-17s are headed to Akron is no surprise. They join former Bradenton residents Anthony Ampaipitakwong and Kofi Sarkodie, who will be a junior and sophomore in 2009. respectively.

Porter says a majority of the recruits have played together on either club or youth national teams.

"That built-in chemistry and cohesiveness, as well as having half of the players already join us in January, should help their transition for an immediate impact," he says.

They join former Bradenton residents Anthony Ampaipitakwong and Kofi Sarkodie, who will be a junior and sophomore in 2009, respectively.

Akron's incoming class also included Matt Mason and Eric Stevenson, who are part of a stellar class of Ohio seniors.

(The U-17 connection will continue next year with the arrival of U-17 captain Perry Kitchen.)

2. MARYLAND. The signings of Canadian Olivier Lacoste-Lebuis, who spent time in France at Strasbourg, and Haitian youth international Widner Saint Cyr, who has been playing for the New York Red Bulls' academy team moved the Terrapins up to No. 2

The national champion Terrapins dipped into the ranks of the Red Bulls academy program to sign Matt Kassel last year, and they have signed two other top prospects from MLS programs -- forward London Woodberry from FC Dallas and midfielder Paul Torres of D.C. United.

Also committed to Maryland is forward Jordan Cyrus, who scored 122 goals for Norfolk, Va., Academy.

Real Colorado defender Taylor Kemp should give the Terrapins help on its backline, which lost Omar Gonzalez and A.J. Delagarza to MLS's Los Angeles Galaxy.

Like Kassel, Kemp made the 2008 Development Academy Starting XI in the U-17/18 division; Torres was selected to the Starting XI in the U-15/16 division.

3. UCLA. The Bruins' class is headed by midfielder Amobi Okugo, who the lone high school senior on the U.S. under-20 national team that played in Concacaf qualifying this spring.

UCLA coach Jorge Salcedo loaded up on attacking players: Dakota Collins, one of Southern California's top strikers, Chandler Hoffman, who scored 77 goals in his first three seasons of prep ball in Alabama, Ryan Hollingshead, who had three assists in his Sacramento sectional high school championship game, and Evan Raynr and Michael Roman, who won U.S. Youth Soccer titles in 2006 and 2007 with Real So Cal.

Defender Cesar Morales earned Development Academy all-conference honors with Sockers FC Chicago.

4. STANFORD. Coming off a 4-11-3 season during which it scored only 14 goals, the Cardinal can use some help up front, and it got it with the signing of Dersu Abolfathi, considered the top forward in this year's senior class, and Adam Jahn, who recently traveled with the U.S. U-18s to the Australian Youth Olympic Festival, where he scored five goals against China, four in the final 10 minutes.

"I'm thrilled at the group we've been able to assemble," Coach Bret Simon said. "We've been able to address our pressing needs, and particularly build a quality attacking base for the future."

Also headed to the Farm is Hunter Gorskie, who is considered one of the top defenders in the country.

5. CALIFORNIA. The Bears give the Pac-10 three of the nation's top four classes. Ireland looked to add forward John Fitzpatrick after he put on an outstanding performance as a guest player for South Coast Bayern at last summer's Milk Cup.

Joining Fitzpatrick in Berkeley will be fellow Californians Steve Birnbaum, Riley Kovatch, Anthony Salciccia, Chris Ortega, Nick Shackelford and Kyle Marsh.

Santa Clara transfer Jeff Cosgriff will join the Bears as a senior.

6. NORTH CAROLINA. The arrival of two experienced top-flight transfers -- former U.S. U-17 Michael Farfan and Stephen McCarthy from Santa Clara -- should again make the Heels national contenders.

The top frosh is Uruguayan-born Enzo Martinez -- yes, he was named after Enzo Francescoli. Martinez broke the South Carolina prep career record for goals with 143 after only three seasons.

Just as impressive is Martinez's work in the classroom. Unable to speak a word of English when he arrived from Montevideo eight years ago, he has a 4.0 average at Northwester High School in Rock Hill, S.C.

UNC has also signed goalie Scott Goodwin from the CASL Chelsea FC program.

7. MICHIGAN. The Wolverines landed one of the deepest classes, loading up on area stars Latif Alashe, Hamoody Saad and David Yang. In addition, UM signed Justin Meram, the 2008 NSCAA Division I Junior College Player of the Year who scored 51 goals in two years at Yavapai College, and Kofi Opare, who resides in Canada but trained with the U.S. under-20 national team.

Forward Alex Martinez, a forward from Vancouver, B.C., who spent time in the youth system at Mexican club Atlas, enrolled at UM for the winter semester.

"The quality and quantity of this class of players is unmatched in the history of our program," Steve Burns said. "Our staff did a tremendous job identifying great players that were great fits within our team because they possess the right blend of athleticism, soccer guile, toughness, and personality.

8. VIRGINIA. Will Bates (Richmond Strikers), who played with the U.S. U-18s at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival, and Ahkeel Rodney (Blau Weiss Gottschee) give the Cavs two powerful strikers.

Shane Cooke, Marcus Douglas and Sean Murnane are all products of D.C. United's academy program.

9. NOTRE DAME. Dillon Powers and Grant Van De Casteele arrive from Dallas powerhouse Andromeda FC. Powers is a playmaker, while Van De Casteele is a defender who can attack from several positions.

Bob Novak
and Dan O'Leary head down from Chicago to boost the Irish midfield.

"I think this is another great class," said Coach Bobby Clark. "Every year we graduate very good players and we reload with another group of very good players and this 2009 class is another great example. We are very, very happy.

10. SAINT LOUIS. The Billikens signed High School All-Americans
Nick Maglasang and Alex Sweetin from St. Louis and Kansas City, respectively, then fanned out to land Californians Benny Estes, Brian Green and Jordan Wolff. Local product Mike Roach transferred after spending the previous two years at Indiana.

11. UC SANTA BARBARA. The signing of a trio from JC powerhouse Yavapai, Sam Hayden, Chris Hunter and Evan McNiel, and English schoolboy star Robert Hoyle dramatically improves the UCSB defense. UCSB coach Tim Vom Steeg called midfielder Christian Ramirez the best all-round player to come out of Southern California this year.

12. WEST VIRGINIA. Tuan Doan was supposed to enroll at West Virginia two years ago but instead attended Concordia University in his native Texas, where he didn't play soccer. The former Solar star enrolled at WVU this winter and was outstanding this spring, igniting a Mountaineer attack that struggled in 2008. Also arriving in Morgantown are Peabo Doue, Uwem Etuk and
Travis Pittman from the D.C. United academy program, and Shadow Sebele, another Zimbabwean from Virginia's Episcopal High School.

13. SANTA CLARA. The Broncos picked up former U.S. U-17 residency keeper Larry Jackson. Erik Hurtado is the top prospect to come out of Oregon this year. Takahide Kameya spent time at the Yokohama Marinos Academy in Japan before moving to Northern California.

14. GEORGETOWN. The Hoyas landed Iowan Ian Christianson, who has been playing for the Chicago Fire Academy, and Haitian U-17 national team player Mark Luxama, who plays for Met Oval in New York.

15. INDIANA. The Hoosiers' big signing is Kevin Bick, Kentucky's first two-time winner of the state's Mr. Soccer and son of former NASL defender Sam Bick. Matt Wiet is part of a excellent crop of players coming out of Ohio this year.



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