Part 2 of 2 - Read Part 1 containing travel to Morgantown WV and includes the following schools: Connecticut and West Virginia.
This article contains my previous week’s travel to Des Moines, IA, Bronx, NY and West Orange, NJ and includes Drake, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Saint Louis, Fordham, Seton Hall and Marquette.
Next week, I’ll be in Southern California after attending a local DC area match.
Just a reminder, this year, I’m concentrating on just a few players at each game.
Des Moines, IA – On a brutally cold windy evening in Iowa, Drake beat Southern Illinois University Edwardsville 2-0.
Simply put, Drake was better.
When I arranged an Omaha business trip, it was with the intention of attending the UC Irvine at Creighton match that I mistakenly had as on October 19 not October 15. So, I had a choice of going to see Creighton at Bradley (a 12 hour round-trip) or this match (a 4 hour round-trip). I’m glad that I got to see Drake since I have already seen Creighton and Bradley this year.
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville: 4-2-3-1
F: Jared Tejada
M: Peter Kelley, Derek Huffman, Jack Twellman
DM: Matt Polster, Ryan Bauer
D: Aaron Lantz, Konrad Kucharski, Ryan Wilhelm, Brian Groark
GK: Scott Meyer
Drake: 4-1-4-1 with Ostrander and Boyer regularly interchanging
F: Thomas Ostrander
M: Bryan Jantsch, Erik Boyer, Matt Kuhn, Bryan Jantsch
DM: Jordan Stanley
D: Logan North, Garrett Crall, Nick Marshall, Kyle Whigham
GK: Jordan Kadlec
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Observations:
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has several problems – one of the more important issues is improper spacing in the box essentially marking themselves out of opportunities and quality looks at the goal. This was very pronounced in the first half.
This Southern Illinois University Edwardsville team is not near as good as the one that I saw playing for the Missouri Valley tournament championship last year.
Senior center back Ryan Wilhelm is an undersized composed defender with good instincts and calmness on the ball. He increased his tackle ferocity on senior forward Thomas Ostrander in the 25th minute. Wilhelm is a competent college soccer defender, but he doesn’t have the athletic ability, size or technical ability for MLS – and I doubt USL (other than PDL).
The best talent on the team is freshman Matt Polster, but he has a lot of room to improve. While talented on the ball, this freshman expects to have the ball at all times. His petulant attitude seems to be grating on his teammates. I want a player who wants the ball and then takes care of it – but there is a line between demanding and incessant whining that Polster has leapt past.
The first goal was scored by sophomore Erik Boyer in the 27th minute. The play started with an early cross by senior Charles Schwartz. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Wilhelm and senior Matt Kuhn contested the cross and it squirted to the far post where Boyer opportunistically touched it in from 5 yards.
In the 40th minute, Kuhn scored an insurance goal. The play started with Kuhn driving a wide ball to sophomore Bryan Jantsch who took the ball down the line before squaring it centrally to senior Michael Noonan. Noonan mis-hit his shot and the ball bounced around the box. On the play, Wilhelm appeared to handle the ball, but the penalty kick wasn’t called. Kuhn picked up the ball in the box, quickly shedding a surprised defender. With just the goalie to beat, Kuhn stroked the ball past him for the second goal.
Kuhn is the best Drake player with the best professional prospects. His season last year ended in the summer when he came down awkwardly while playing PDL for the Des Moines Menace. Kuhn has exceptional quickness and technical skills. In the 79th minute, he handled 3 Southern Illinois University Edwardsville defenders before distributing the ball forward. Kuhn drives balls wide to his 2 talented wide midfielders who use the width appropriately.
My only concern is that Kuhn has not recovered his fitness fully that I expect is the lingering affects of his ACL recovery. He takes breaks on the field, because Drake can’t afford for him to be substituted. Additionally, I doubt central midfield is ultimate position in the pros, but I could envision him playing left back or left midfield in MLS. Given his ACL problems, I would expect that he might be available as a supplemental pick. This could be a low risk, high reward pick.
Senior left midfielder Charles Schwartz relies heavily on his left foot for penetrating crosses and he has a slender tall body.
Sophomore right midfielder Bryan Jantsch is a favored target for Kuhn. Jantsch handles Kuhn’s hard driven outlet passes without crisis or adventure. Jantsch has a simple but effective move, bringing the ball into the defender before taking it out availing him time and space to cross the ball. He’s very adept at this skill.
Both wide midfielders lack professional pace.
Senior goal keeper Jordan Kadlec is unspectacular in his handling of the game, making the necessary plays without undue drama or excitement. His superior positioning makes up for his lack of height and special athletic talent.
The Drake defense is young and prone to make mistakes especially under high pressure.
Bronx, NY – On a crisp fall evening, Saint Louis capitalized on several Fordham mistakes to win 2-1 in a game that left both teams not content with their performances.
Saint Louis: 4-2-3-1
F: Robbie Kristo
M: Jon Roeckle, William Hidalgo, Kinglsey Bryce
DM: Raymond Lee, Michael Robson
D: Christian Briggs, Chad Vandegriffe, Anthony Manning, Nick Maglasang
GK: Nick Shackelford
F: Matt Courtenay, Tim Richardson, Aaron Markowitz
M: John Niyonsaba, Andre Seidenthal
DM: Nathaniel Bekoe
D: Phil Ferrantello, Ryan Curran, Casper Gimand, Michael Stalker
GK: Ryan Meara
Saint Louis Observations:
With a young team starting 5 freshmen and 3 sophomores, Saint Louis is setting the stage for future success. Their defense isn’t flawless; not marking exceptionally well and not sufficiently taking care of the ball in the back.
Junior defensive midfielder Michael Robson is a sure tackler and I like the way he works the ball around the field. He has outstanding defensive technical skills specifically his classic body position, head up, knees bent, balanced, very nice.
Robson effectively combines with freshman Raymond Lee. Lee is explosively quick. He outpaced the non-too shabby senior John Niyonsaba. Lee has slick dribbling skills although he overly relies on his left foot. Given his skill, I expect that Sporting Kansas City will make him an offer as a home-grown player. He is ready.
Senior Chad Vandegriffe controls the central defense. He’s a strong, tall and good in the air. At times, he relies on his strength more than his foot quickness. For example, in the 70th minute, Vandegriffe tried to intercept a pass, however he didn’t get to the ball. He wisely used his hands to slow down the Fordham striker allowing him to recover. I like Vandegriffe’s defensive intensity, but I doubt that he has sufficient speed and defensive tactical quality to be a viable option for most MLS teams. Without a doubt, he’s good in the air.
While Fordham has goal scoring challenges, defense mistakes killed Fordham. In the first minute of the second half, a defensive mess gifted Saint Louis sophomore Jon Roeckle an easy 8 yard shot that he buried past the helpless senior goal keeper Ryan Meara. Then, six minute later, a Fordham turn-over led to freshman Robbie Kristo crossing the ball to a minimally marked William Hidalgo 10 yards from goal that Hidalgo tucked into the corner. I can’t blame either goal on Meara. I wonder what Meara did to his defense. Is this paybacks? It would make sense. With Fordham down by 1 goal and pushing numbers forward in the 88th minute, Meara stopped a 1v1 Adnan Gabeljic shot from 12 yards. Meara seems to have fully recovered from his quad injury. Saint Louis tactically put 2 players on Meara and tried to jostle him on every corner kick and deep free kick. It seemed to be effective early, but Meara shed these impediments flawlessly later. In the 30th minute, he reacted quickly on a 25 yard surprise right footed shot by Raymond Lee.
In the 84th minute, Meara buried freshman Kingsley Bryce on a free ball near the sideline 35 yards from goal. He justifiably earned a yellow card.
I was glad to see senior Tim Richardson play after missing the last game. He is a tall, technical player with less than average speed and the inability to create his own shot. He handles the ball adequately. At best, he might be able to play wide midfield in USL, but I question his athleticism.
Sophomore Nathaniel Bekoe has tremendous speed and potential. He is a solid tackler – at times with a sniff of controlled viciousness. He is willing to take audacious, powerful shots from deep (30+ yards). He’s someone to observe over the next 2 years.
West Orange, NJ – In 27 minutes (3 cubed), freshman James Nortey took only 3 attempted shots and he scored 3 goals from 3 headers against 3 different defenders. Nortey wears number 18 which is (3+3) times 3 = 18. Nortey leads Marquette in scoring with 9 goals (3 squared). He’s taken only 29 shots with 14 being on goal leaving 15 shots off target. 3 + 3 + 3 +3 +3 is 15. Very spooky – the number of 3’s. Of course, his favorite number is 17. Some kids just aren’t very cooperative.
On the day of this game, I woke up a little under the weather and I wound up calling it a weekend after suffering through this match and slept for the rest of the weekend. With the hours that I keep and with airplane travel being no more than a human-sized beaker of bacteria, I’m surprised that I’m not sick more. Nevertheless, I was a little off my game in this match.
Marquette: 4-1-2-3 with the wide forwards responsible for getting back wide
F: Sebastian Jansson, James Nortey, Anthony Selvaggi
M: Calum Mallace, Bryan Ciesiulka,
DM: Ryan Robb
D: Paul Dillon, Eric Pothast, Michael Alfano, Dennis Holowaty
GK: David Check
Seton Hall: 4-1-4-1
F: Max Garcia
M: Cody Hess, Giovanni Zammiello, Bolu Akinyode, Jason Wellington
DM: Kai Greene
D: Mateusz Brela, Joe Baker, Bradley Kerstetter, Chris Garcia
GK: Anthony Reichwaldt
The diminutive freshman Nortey scored 3 header goals. He instinctively gets to open spaces – even just a step or two away – and heads balls on goal. Nortey is quick and he has good ball skills. When I saw him in preseason, I identified that he had skill, but he hadn’t figured out how to combine sufficiently. He has developed into a much better player in just a couple of months.
Of course, my primary focus is senior Calum Mallace. He’s a rangy player that seems to stroll through games because he doesn’t appear to be challenged athletically by opponents. His running style is reminiscent to Geoff Cameron’s. He has quick feet on defense. Mallace hit a 40 yard free kick that found Nortey’s head for the second goal in the 14th minute. In the 63rd minute, Mallace diagonally carried the ball from the sideline line to the box, feinted a shot which froze his defender before audaciously attempting to chip the keeper, but it was too easy for the keeper.
Sophomore defender Eric Pothast is the key defender in the back. While much of the danger was quashed by junior defensive midfielder Ryan Robb, Pothast is an alert, sure-footed, balanced defender. Seconds before halftime, Pothast cleared a ball off the line from a shot by freshman Jason Wellington after junior goalkeeper David Check challenged Seton Hall’s freshman Jeremy Witherspoon on a high ball that dropped to Wellington. Pothast is a heady defender reading the attack like it is Dr Seuss. In the 43rd minute, he allowed Wellington to turn at midfield was able to catch him rumbling down the sideline.
Seton Hall Observations:
Seton Hall isn’t very good, top to bottom, front to back. They started the game playing man-to-man, but this tactic was appropriately scrapped when Seton Hall wasn’t really marking their men. As a team, they are equally inept at defending. Allowing a small forward to get open and beat a much bigger team for 3 goals in 30 minutes is unacceptable. The only thing that stopped Nortey was the Marquette coach Louis Bennett subbing him off
The senior defensive duo of Joe Baker and Bradley Kerstetter didn’t get the job done. Baker is tall but slow.
Senior Giovanni Zammiello is the most technical Seton Hall player, but he runs his mouth more than he runs. He’s tidy on the ball, but he just isn’t good enough. Zammiello drops deep to get touches on the ball.
The most intriguing player is freshman Jason Wellington. He’s a tall, powerful player but he’s very raw. He has tremendous potential.