Every day this week, WBR will preview a different part of the 2012 Creighton Bluejays men’s soccer team. Today in part three of our preview we tackle the midfielders for this year’s squad.
The strength of the 2012 Bluejays men’s soccer team undoubtedly lies in the middle of the park. The Bluejays return 2011 starters and key figures Jose “Choco” Gomez, Bruno Castro, and team leader Andrew Ribeiro. Elmar Bolowich and his coaches will look to both Ribeiro and Gomez (captains) to provide needed leadership and confidence holding the ball and maintain the shape for the team.
Gone is speedy winger Dion Acoff. No defender in the nation could stay with Acoff when he would take flight down the right flank. His speed and crossing ability were rather wasted as Creighton only played, and will likely continue to play, with one forward. Acoff’s speed will likely be replaced by a more technical creative wing, likely Ribas or newcomer Timo Pitter.
Jose ‘Choco’ Gomez (#10)
Few in college soccer possess the skill that Gomez has at his disposal. He is the fulcrum of the offense, setting up strikers and wingers in dangerous positions. Scouts were all over the Creighton junior last winter and spring, as reports emerged that trials with Spanish top division teams might pry Gomez away from his senior season at Morrison Stadium. Yet, Gomez turned down the professional route to finish his career with Bolowich and attempt to take care of the unfinished business in Birmingham.
Andrew Ribeiro (#28)
Ribeiro embodies the spirit found within Bolowich-coached teams. Ribs is tireless and never gives anything less than his all. He started his career as a target forward, yet Bolowich quickly moved him to the center of the park, partnering him with MLS 2nd round pick Greg Jordan. This move transformed Ribeiro’s career, earning him plaudits from national writers and scouts, so much so that he is seen as one of the top senior MLS prospects in the country.
Ribeiro will start behind the midfield and help link the defense to the more fleet-footed creative players, while at the same time disrupting opposing attacks. The question will be whether Ribeiro will be able to duplicate the kind of success he had last year without an All-American partner.
Bruno Castro (#7)
Castro’s absence during the exhibition season was obvious. It is clear that while this year’s team boasts much greater depth, Castro is irreplaceable. He does not possess blazing speed, or a vicious shot, but he makes excellent runs and is always in the right place in the box. Gomez returning for his season year will allow Castro to play in a more natural role out wide, and the Gomez-Castro partnership is one of the more dangerous in the country.
Zach Barnes (#12)
Zach Barnes is a warrior. The SMU transfer left the Mustangs in hopes of playing with more freedom to get forward and join the attack. At Creighton Barnes will likely play in front of Ribeiro and behind Gomez, in a more box-to-box role. Barnes wins most 50/50 challenges, is a surgical passer, and possesses a hammer for a right foot. Look for Barnes to put his stamp all over this team.
Jose Ribas (#8)
Jose Ribas burst onto campus last season as a relative unknown. He finished the season as a vital, big-game player. Ribas is a scrappy winger who can also fill in as the “#10″ when Gomez is off the park. Ribas proved he has matured his game, playing very well against a talented Maryland squad that saw him score a wonder-goal free kick with his left foot. If he continues to stay aggressive and take shots from outside the box, then look out.
Timo Pitter (#18)
Jays fans were baffled during the Blue & White scrimmage with a mysterious #18. Pitter was not in the 2012 recruiting release. Following the two exhibition matches fans know Pitter will be a valuable assets this season. Pitter is a left footed attacking midfielder who can be deployed on either flank or up top as a striker. His ferocious blast from 20+ yards out opened eyes and elevated him as one to watch this season.
Christian Blandon (#20)
No Jay made more of an impact during the spring season than Blandon. His pace and skillful touch provided the Jays main firepower, impressing both coaches and fans alike. Due to the strength of this year’s midfield it could be hard for Blandon to find a starting role, but there is no doubt that he could provide an instant spark off the bench.
Sonny Makh (#11)
Makh comes to Creighton by way of London, England after a quick pitstop at Louisburg College in North Carolina. Makh finished second in the nation with 26 goals on his way to NJCAA All-American honors. Makh has been used as both a central and wide midfielder and, like Barnes, plays in the box-to-box role. Despite the congestion in the midfield, look for Makh to see his share of playing time. He is a high-impact type of player.
JP Pulverenti (#24)
Pulverenti is an effective utility player who can play in numerous positions in both the defense and midfield. Pulverenti never takes a play off and does well to galvanize the team when he gets a chance to make an impact. He is makes his opposing number’s life a nightmare, as he hustles down every ball, and pressures every minute of the game.
Bryce Ciambella (#17)
Ciambella comes to Creighton from Florida following a successful prep career that saw him play as both a midfielder and forward. Ciambella has been used as both a winger and defensive midfielder during the first couple matches at Creighton. Ciambella has excellent intangibles and a good feel for the game.
Hunter Gorby (#13)
Gorby, an Omaha native, possess wonderful foot skills and size for a player in the midfield. He has been used as a center-attacking player and might also find time on the wing or up top in a secondary striker role. Lots of potential.
There are not many teams that will boast the midfield talent that Creighton will role out this year. Again, everything will depend on where the coaches decide to play sophomore Eric Miller.
If Miller starts in the defense, Creighton will likely look like this:
If Miller starts in the midfield he will likely take Ribas’ spot on the right: