You have to go all the way back to the Bruce Arena
era at Virginia to find a team -- the only one -- to win at least three NCAA Division I men's championships in a row. Stanford has a
chance to accomplish that in 2017. That's one of the key storylines for the college men's soccer season that kicks off on Friday. Soccer
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Stanford looks to win its third NCAA Division I men's championship in a row, something only one team has done before. Arena's Virginia team won four in a year, beginning in 1991
when it beat Santa Clara in a shootout.
Stanford, No. 1 in Soccer America's Men's Preseason Top 25, certainly has a good shot. A trio of seniors -- 2016 co-Pac-12 Player of the Year
and All-Americans Tomas Hilliard-Arce
and Drew Skundrich
-- will lead the Cardinal. 2. Maryland gets another chance.
Maryland has had a
lot of great teams and players, but its 2016 team was one of the best. The No. 1 seeds entering the NCAA Tournament, the Terrapins unbelievably fell to Providence, 5-4, in their opening game after
blowing a 4-1 lead and conceding four goals in 14 minutes. "Blow" is the operative word as strong winds at Ludwig Field were a big factor in the game's outcome. Sasho Cirovski
begins his 25th season at the helm of the Terrapins, will have some issues to resolve with his defense, but there is no team in the country that can match the Terrapins with its front six that
includes German Gordon Wild
, the 2016 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, U.S. U-20 midfielder Eryk Williamson
and All-Big Ten midfielder Amar Sejdic
. Soccer America Men's Preseason Top 25:
Rankings 3. ACC will once again be deep.
Maryland left the ACC after the 2013 season, and it has produced three different
conference champions since then: Clemson, Syracuse and Wake Forest. That's only the tip of the iceberg in a conference where three other teams have won national championships in the last six years:
Virginia, Notre Dame and North Carolina.
For 2017, six ACC teams rank in SA's Top 10 and eight in the Top 25. The coaches' preseason favorite is North Carolina, which features one of the
top MLS prospects in sophomore midfielder Cam Lindley
(Chicago Fire HG). 4. Foreign influence grows.
One only has to
look at MLS to see how the influence of foreign players in college soccer has grown. The top pick in the 2017 SuperDraft was a Ghanaian (Abu Danladi
) and the top candidates for 2017 Rookie of
the Year are a German (Julian Gressel
) and Englishman (Jack Elliott
Virginia was during its heyday under Arena an all-American team with his recruiting footprint
extending from Northern Virginia to New York -- all within a day's drive -- with an occasional excursion out of the region for a star like Jeff Agoos
(Texas) or Mike Fisher
Now the Cavs are the "U.N. of Football
" with players from 17 countries represented on
their 2017 team. Eleven foreigners to watch: Marcelo Acuna
, Virginia Tech (Costa Rica)
, Syracuse (England) Francis Atuahene
, Michigan (Ghana) Jon Bakero
, Wake Forest (Spain) Cory Brown
, Xavier (New Zealand) Sam Gainford
Akron (England) Jon Gallagher
, Notre Dame (Ireland) Paul Hoffmeister
, Utah Valley (Germany) Tim Kubel
, Louisville (Germany) Albert Ruiz
(Spain) Gordon Wild
, Maryland (Germany) 5. Coaching carousel.
Men's soccer's biggest coaching moves involved three
2016 NCAA Tournament teams. George Kiefer
left USF after 15 years to take over at N.C. State. Bob Butehorn
moved over from FGCU, which he took to the NCAA Tournament four times in its
six years of eligibility, to take charge of the Bulls in Tampa. Jesse Cormier
then left Vermont after 13 seasons in charge of the Catamounts, who made the NCA Tournament in both 2015 and 2016,
to become the FGCU head coach.