Soccer... that much maligned and misunderstood sport. That other sport that's played during the fall season..Truth is, it's rising. MLS is growing faster than ever, revenue is up, interest is up, but there's still a ways to go. The US Men's National Team (USMNT) is riding high at the top of the table in World Cup Qualifying. They just played a hexagonal game in front of one of the best and most enthusiastic crowds the country has seen in their recent trip to Seattle. The rest of the world embraces it, and it looks like many of our countrymen are as well.
Unbeknownst to many, we have (potentially/hopefully?) one of the top up and coming teams in the country on the college circuit here in our back yard. The Syracuse Orange Men's Soccer Team made a push into the NCAA Tournament last year under the watchful eye of Coach Ian McIntyre. They recorded 14 wins, the most in a season since 1986, and won it's first NCAA games in program history. Unfortunately they were ousted from the tournament by none other than Georgetown in a 1-1 game that was taken to penalty kicks.
McIntyre comes to Syracuse after a successful coaching career and playing career at Hartwick. While his first two years could come off as a little rough, he was able to turn the team around to a 14-6-1 record. McIntyre's 2012 and 2013 recruiting classes were both Top 40, nationally, with the 2013 version touted as #14 in the nation. He is also bringing in a Top 50 player this year in Benjamin Lopez, a midfielder from San Diego.
The team returns
their top goalscorer in Jordan Vale, a sophomore midfielder from Auckland, New Zealand as well as their top assist man in Jordan Murrell, a junior defenseman from Markham, Ontario. Chris Makowski, named the team MVP comes back to solidify the defense that recorded 12 clean sheets, the second most in program history.
Anchoring the defense with Murrell and Makowski is Alex Bono, a standout keeper from Baldwinsville. Bono, a sophmore recorded 10 clean sheets last year on the way to a 0.85 goals against average, the fifth lowest in Syracuse history.
Also returning are standout forward Tony Asante, a transfer from Monroe College in the Bronx last year, Nick Perea, a midfielder who led the team in minutes played, and sophmore midfielder Stefanos Stamoulacatos, another local product, from Camillus.
The New League
Syracuse, as you all most likely know (and if you don't, please remove yourself from the hole in the ground you've been living under) is now a member of the ACC. We've looked eight ways from Sunday at what that means for the football, basketball and lacrosse teams, but from the soccer side, things are looking up as well.
We're joining what is arguably the best soccer league in the country, Virginia holds 6 national titles, UNC and Clemson both have two (Maryland can claim 3, but... they're off to play in the B1G soon enough).
Last year alone, Notre Dame was the #1 seed, UNC the #9 and Wake Forest was the #15 (Maryland was the #2 and Louisville the #10 for reference). Virginia, BC and Syracuse also made the field.
The Big East was never a slouch and in fact was a great soccer conference, however the remnants of the Big East pale in comparison to where we're heading.
I'm looking to put together some previews and see what we have coming in store for this fall's season, but for the time being, check out the schedule for 2013. Go check out a game, bring a friend. If you're not familiar with soccer or don't understand what's going on, another option to get you hooked is to check out the Syracuse Silver Knights, or come watch a game with the Syracuse chapter of the American Outlaws, the USMNT Supporter Group. There may even be free beer in it for you. Worst case scenario, I'm always up to talk or watch soccer.
Disclaimer: If any of the information is wrong, blame Wikipedia or the articles linked.
EDIT: Found out from up on the hill that Jordan Vale transferred to UCLA. Best of luck to him.