Four College Cup finalists have long championship histories

The 2018 Men's College Cup is unique in that all four semifinalists are former national champions. On top of that, they all have long rivalries, in one case dating back more than 50 years.

Michigan State and Akron, which meet in Friday's semifinals in Santa Barbara, California, met three straight years in the NCAA Tournament, ending in 1968 when the Spartans shared the national title with Maryland, which is also in the final four.

Indiana, the fourth semifinalist, is the youngest program, first achieving varsity status in 1973, but it began as a club program in 1947.

The four schools have also produced some of the great teams in the history of college soccer.

Akron (program founded in 1954). The Zip' 2010 championship team, coached by Caleb Porter, is the last great college team. Of the 12 players who played in the 1-0 win over Louisville, 11 have played in MLS.

Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United) and Zarek Valentin (Portland) will face each other Saturday in MLS Cup. Jamaican Darren Mattocks helped D.C. United reach the 2018 playoffs. Kofi Sarkodie and Anthony Ampaipitakwong now play in Sweden and Thailand, respectively.

Dec. 12 in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Akron 1 Louisville 0. Goals: Caldwell 79.
Akron -- Meves, Sarkodie, Barson, Korb, Valentin, Kitchen, Nanchoff, Ampaipitakwong, Caldwell, Mattocks, Nagbe. Sub: Speas.
Louisville -- Boudreaux, Rodgers, Granger, Murray, Berry, Campbell, DelPiccolo, Farrell, DeLeon, Mares, Rolfe. Subs: Smith, Tufty, Horton, Lipka, Walker.
Att.: 9,672.

Indiana (1973). The Hoosiers, who are playing in their record 20th final four, have won eight national championships (1982, 1983, 1988, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2012), second only to Saint Louis' 10.

Yeagley took the IU club program varsity in 1973 and every four-year player went to at least one final four during his 31-year reign as the Hoosiers' coach. Yeagley went out with a college championship in 2003, and the Hoosiers won ahead in 2004 under Mike Freitag. Todd Yeagley,  Jerry's son, coached IU to its eighth title in 2012.

Some of the great IU players -- Angelo DiBernardo, Armando Betancourt and Todd Yeagley among them -- didn't win national championships. But Ken Snow won the 1988 national title with a team that also included Juergen Sommer in goal. Sommer was one of three goalkeepers at the 1988 final four who went on to go to the World Cup along with Portland's Kasey Keller and Howard's Shaka Hislop.

IU won back-to-back championships twice, in 1983-93 and 1998-99. The latter two teams included Ukrainians Yuri Lavrinenko and Aleksey Korol and Americans Nick Garcia and Pat Noonan.

Maryland (1946). The Terrapins shared the national championship with Michigan State in 1968 but didn't win another title until 2005. Maryland won its third national championship in 2008 under Sasho Cirovski.

Zac MacMath, Graham Zusi, A. J. DeLaGarza and Rodney Wallace, all still pros in MLS a decade later, and Omar Gonzalez, who plays in Mexico for Atlas, were on the 2008 team. Zusi and Gonzalez played for the USA at the 2014 World Cup while Wallace represented Costa Rica in 2018.

Zusi and DeLaGarza were also on the 2005 team, which also included Maurice Edu, a member of the 2010 U.S. World Cup team, Robbie Rogers, Marc Burch and Chris Seitz.

Michigan State (1956). The Spartans were one of the first Midwest college powers. Under Gene Kenney, they didn't lose a game in three first three season.

Michigan State made it to the NCAA championship game in 1964, 1965, 1967 and 1968. It was denied a spot in the 1966 final when it tied LIU, 2-2, after four overtimes but lost on the tiebreaker in place at the time -- most corner kicks.

Michigan State shared national titles in 1967 when the final against Saint Louis was called because of bad weather and again in 1968 when it tied Maryland, 2-2.

The star of the 1968 team was Jamaican Tony Keyes, a star sprinter at Kingston College, the first Jamaican high school to send a relay team to the Penn Relays in 1964. In the second round, Keyes' goal have the Spartans a 1-0 win over Akron, gaining revenge for the Zip' win in the regular season that snapped Michigan State's 33-game unbeaten streak. Keyes, a Washington, D.C. pediatric dentist, finished the 1968 season with 28 goals in 15 games.

Other members of the 1968 team were Trevor Harris, father of Wolde Harris, who played in MLS, Alex Skotarek, one of the first Americans to play professionally in Europe, and Joe Baum, who went on to coach Michigan State for 31 seasons (1978-2008).

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