With the Bluejays making their second straight College Cup appearance tomorrow, the spotlight has never been brighter for the Creighton soccer program. Here are some of the questions you sent in.
Betsy from Omaha: Which players on this year’s team are real professional prospects?
As Joey Tempo noted, TopDrawerSoccer.com player of the year José “Choco” Gomez has been called one of the most “technically gifted midfielder in the United States, that includes the professional ranks.” He is certainly a high first-round draft pick for MLS. Gomez is perhaps not as big or as fast as other central midfielders in MLS. This could hurt his draft stock, but not much. Even so, he spent the summer training with a Spanish team and has the skill set to play overseas as well.
Aside from Gomez, there are many players on this team I see as having the talent to play at the next level. Eric Miller and Andrew Ribeiro are two indisputable pro prospects in the next few years. There are certainly many more, but these are the two I’d pick with the most certain professional futures. Jeff Gal will get looks from pro teams whenever he decides he’s done on the Hilltop.
Josh tweeted: Do you think men’s soccer will be attracting higher quality transfers? What are the greatest needs next year?
No doubt. A big part of Elmar Bolowich’s success at Carolina resulted from poaching high-level transfers from other top-flight programs who could make a difference immediately. We saw the beginnings of that this off-season: the Jays picked up big names like Carlos McCrary from UNC and more under-the-radar guys like Benito Amaral from San Jacinto College. One big quirk of the year is that McCrary didn’t see too much playing time, unfortunately, but Amaral really proved his worth and made a big impact on the season. I don’t predict that Elmar will change his recruiting strategies, and certainly back-to-back College Cups can only help his case.
In my opinion, the Jays’ greatest need next year will be a replacement for Andrew Ribeiro in the middle of the field. Ribs is absolutely vital to everything the Jays build their gameplan around — winning the ball early, high pressure on defense — and he is the kind of player you love to build your team around. His determination, athleticism and gutsy play are going to be missed, but if Creighton can find a replacement for him, good things will happen.
Many people are wondering: Why was the College Cup ever held in Hoover, Ala., and why was it held there twice?
That is a terrific question. I don’t have the temerity to suggest on this esteemed website that somebody in the NCAA got paid a lot of money in a back room to close that deal, so I will offer you this explanation instead: College soccer (and MLS on its coattails) is trying to build its brand and establish a fan base in the southeast United States. Considering the potential support in that region, there is a dearth of college soccer and zero MLS franchises. The Birmingham area is a central location between Florida, Texas, Nashville, Atlanta, and New Orleans, and the College Cup brings vital exposure in the southeast.
This is the only possible explanation I can come up with, and it was really hard. It is really perplexing, when you think about it, that the national championship is being held in a minor-league baseball stadium in a veritable soccer wasteland.
Luckily, next year’s College Cup will be held in Philadelphia at PPL Park, home of MLS’s Philadelphia Union. Philadelphia, as we know, is a city with infrastructure, plenty of hotels and things to do after the games end, making it a 180˚ reversal from Hoover, Alabama. The downside is the guaranteed attendance of Philadelphia sports fans, but you have to take those risks sometimes.
My proposition is Houston, Texas. Every year, they should play the College Cup in the Houston Dynamo’s brand-spanking-new BBVA Compass Stadium. Houston is relatively accessible by air and car, probably has great weather in December, has a great soccer culture in place and offers a home-field advantage to nobody (yet). That idea is free, NCAA.
Do you have more questions about this weekend’s college soccer action? Post them in the comments below!