[TOP 5 PREVIEW] Rarely do Connecticut stars leave Coach Ray Reid's program early to turn pro so it's no surprise that perhaps no team in the country has more talent than No. 5 Connecticut. This year's team features a pair of Preseason All-Americans, Tony Cascio and Carlos Alvarez, both exciting players, and one of the nation's top young defenders in sophomore Andrew Jean-Baptiste.
Such is UConn's reputation as a soccer power that the Huskies recruited Cascio and Alvarez from Arizona and Southern California, and they have not disappointed. Cascio has scored 19 goals and 17 assists in three seasons, and Alvarez has seven goals and 27 assists in two seasons).
"Having those guys in the front of the team is very good for us," says Reid. "We are very happy with them."
The wild-card in the UConn attack will be Senegalese striker Mamadou Doudou Diouf, who scored six goals in a freshman season cut short by an injury.
The big question mark is in goal, where Josh Ford graduated after starting for four seasons. Reid says Jamaican freshman Andre Blake is in line to get the starting job, but it's a battle among five candidates.
Jean-Baptiste was outstanding as a freshman when UConn went 12-2-6, losing only to Maryland and Georgetown and going out in both the Big East and NCAA Tournaments in shootouts.
"I think this team can be better," says Reid. "Andrew Jean-Baptiste is going to be a key guy on defense, he is the leader of the backs. Last year's team was very good, but this year we can also be very good. We are playing a harder schedule and we are more mature."