The college soccer season kicked off this past weekend. Here's a look at how some Crew Youth alumni started the season in NCAA Division I:
Akron Zips- (1-0-0) This Week:4-0 W vs. Florida Gulf Goast.
Caleb Porter started five Crew Youth products in the Zips' rout of Florida Gulf Coast Friday night. Wil Trapp, Chad Barson, Eric Stevenson, Thomas Schmitt, and freshman Andrew Souders all played starting roles in the 4-0 win. Stevenson and Schmitt scored the first two goals of the match. In addition, Stevenson supplied the assist to Schmitt on his way to being named to College Soccer News' National Team of the Week.
The Crew's Director of Soccer Business Development, Jeremy Parkins, was at Cub Cadet Field for the season opener: "It was exciting to see five former players from our system have the opportunity to start for one of the top teams in the country... The first goal of the evening was Eric Stevenson with a shot from about 20 yards out, and so it was exciting to see that go in. Then, Eric found Thomas Schmitt for the second goal. It was exciting to see our guys scoring goals."
Louisville Cardinals- (0-1-0) This Week: 0-3 at Maryland
The Cardinals opened the season with a 3-0 loss on the road to Maryland. 2010 product Alex Obbey came off the bench and had one of Louisville's better chances in the 40th minute, but his attempt was blocked by the Maryland defense.
Xavier Musketeers- (0-0-1) This week: 1-1 D at Northwestern
Both Matt and Will Walker started and played significant minutes in the Musketeers' road draw against Northwestern. Matt Hill and freshman Rhodes Moore each came off the bench for Xavier. Matt Walker recorded three shots with one being on target, while Moore was able to force one shot in the stalemate.
Boston College Golden Eagles- (1-0-0) This Week: 2-1 W at Quinnipiac
Goalkeeper Justin Luthy saved five shots to help the No. 14 Golden Eagles to the 2-1 victory. Boston College returns to action Monday night against Boston University.
UCLA Bruins- (0-1-0) This Week: 3-2 L vs. New Mexico
The second-ranked Bruins fell to No. 6 New Mexico on Friday night. Defender Matt Wiet played the whole match and nearly recorded an assist from a long throw-in. UCLA returns to action on the road against Maryland on August 31.
The good folks at TopDrawerSoccer.com, Travis Clark and J.R. Eskilson, highlighted the Top 30 Homegrown prosepects playing in NCAA Division I this season. Which one of these players will follow in the footsteps of Aaron Horton, Matt Lampson, and Ben Speas?
From the article:
D Chad Barson, Akron, Senior (Columbus Crew): A solid center back and experienced senior -- Barson has played in 73 games in his college career to this point -- Barson is going to be a prominent figure on Akron’s side once again.
Who's ready for football season?
To hold you over, here's footage of Crew forward Justin Meram kicking field goals during his time at the University of Michigan. Meram briefly spent time place kicking with the Wolverines football team before deciding to focus solely on soccer.
After spending the summer playing with the United States U-15 and U-17 National Teams, Crew Soccer Academy standout Benny Swanson has accepted an offer to participate in the US U-17 Residency program in Bradenton, Florida.
The 15-year-old Grove City native hopes his decision will help him secure a spot in next year's U-17 World Cup.
"It's a great opportunity. It was kind of hard to pass up," Swanson said. "The [FIFA U-17] World Cup is next year in Dubai. I would like to make that roster, hopefully. If I don't, I hope I just learn every day in training in that environment with that pro mentality."
"It's great for our organization," Crew Technical Director Brian Bliss said. "Obviously it's a little bit premature to be speaking about Benny as a future pro for the club, but he's on the right track. It gives credibility to our organization on the youth side as to what we're doing."
Bliss says residency can only help Swanson's promising skill set.
"Right now, he's only getting three or four days of training each week, he's going to get five or six days each week training with the top players in the country at his age [in Bradenton]." Bliss explained. "He's got the ability to break down players off of the dribble and create on his own. He works for the good of the team in terms of being a team player. He's got an eye for the pass and can deliver it. He's got a multitude of skills and being in that environment for the next year, it's going to make him a better player."
The young midfielder's drive and skill set reminds Bliss of a certain US Men's National Team mainstay.
"He's got a lot of things Michael Bradley had," Bliss said. "Bradley grew physically really quick at the end, but he was also undersized. [Bradley] had the ability to dribble, pass, create, and had the same attitude and hunger for the game that Benny has. There are some comparisons. They may be unfair because Michael is a full national team player and I don't want to put pressure on [Swanson], but he's got a lot of this same [skills]."
Being in the same sentence with Bradley and others who attended the U-17 Residencty previously such as Landon Donovan, Brek Shea, and Eddie Gaven is still surreal Swanson says, but he remains determined to one day don the Black & Gold as a professional.
"It's kind of surreal, but I've been working hard. That's where hard work will get you," Swanson said. "The Crew has helped me a lot to progress as a player and as a person."
"[Playing professionally for the Crew] would be a dream come true," he finished.
Admittedly, Houston hasn't been my favorite city I've visited with the Crew this season. It's extremely hot and humid, there's nothing to do around the team hotel, and nearly every restraunt downtown is closed on Sunday.
However, the Dynamo's new BBVA Compass Stadium has made up for the misfortunes mentioned above.
The first thing I noticed when I walked into the stadium: there's a lot of orange in this place.
Outside the press box, images of various Houston Chronicle front pages over the past few years pay homage to Dynamo's short time in Houston.
A Dynamo legend overlooks the entrance to every lower-level section. For example, here's Brian Ching at the entryway to Section 125.
Here's the view from the north end of the stadium, looking toward the stage area. The dimensions of the field at BBVA Compass Stadium are 70 yards x 115 yards to suit the Dynamo's style of play and execution on set pieces. The MLS preference for pitch size is 75 yards x 120 yards.
In the southwest corner of the stadium is where the Dynamo supporters groups sit. No, Crew fans, it's not as big as the Nordecke.
Finally, and most importantly, the Crew's Equipment Manager Rusty Wummel was a happy camper with the spacey visiting locker room.