As the spring semester starts, the Syracuse Orange men’s soccer team is welcoming three new players into the fold. The trio are a mix of transfers and internationals, looking to bolster a roster that lost seven seniors to graduation, as well as Tajon Buchanan, a sophomore standout, to a Generation Adidas contract.
The players leaving the team needing to be replaced include goalkeeper Hendrick Hilpert, defenders Kamal Miller and Len Zeugner, wingback Jan Breitenmoser, midfielders Hugo Delhommelle and Jonathan Hagman and forwards Buchanan and Adnan Bakalovic. Of these players, all but Bakalovic were starters last season. As such, the Orange are bringing in a midfielder, and two defenders to train with the team through the spring.
In midfield, Amferny Arias is joining the squad. The 18-year old midfielder from Alajuela, Costa Rica has been capped for various Costa Rican national squads, including the U-15’s, U-17’s and U-20’s. Arias played with the Alajuelense Academy as a youth club. He captained the Costa Rican U-17’s in the 2017 World Cup. He should bolster a midfield that loses two starters and partner ahead of Djimon Johnson in the number eight role by the sounds of it. Coach McIntyre mentioned him as a box-to-box option, while he traditionally played more of a holding role for Costa Rica. From his film, he looks to be more than happy to both go into a hard tackle or pick a pass over the top. He shows some affinity for joining the attack as well. If he can play a true number eight and shuttle both ways, he could be a force to be reckoned with.
As a transfer from the University of San Francisco Dons, Matt Orr joins the squad as well. The versatile defender from Hamilton, Hong Kong. Orr can play both center back and left back, and may slot in the rotation at left center back or left back, depending on the situation. He started for the Dons his first two seasons, garnering All-Freshman WCC honors in 2016. Orr is also capped for the Hong Kong Men’s National Team.
Filling out the additions is Nyal Higgins, a transfer centerback from Oakland University. A three year starter for the Golden Grizzlies, he should be able to provide immediate cover on a rebuilding back line. Also, Higgins is from Ajax, Ontario, so of course he’s coming to Syracuse. It’s a natural fit. He’s a two time All-Horizon second teamer and was on the All-Freshman team in 2016.
His coach in Oakland, Eric Pogue, mentioned he was a solid defender, comfortable with the ball at his feet and able to command a game. That’s what the Orange will need to replace stalwarts in Miller and Zeugner.
All three will be welcome additions to the Syracuse program and should make an immediate impact. Their first chance to prove themselves on the field will be when the spring season starts later on in the term. The school should be announcing their full recruiting class later on in the spring.