Earlier this year, Syracuse sent two coaches to the U.S. U18 Men’s National Team training camp at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. Among a bevy of college coaches, the two from the Orange stood out from the crowd.
‘Cuse is not perceived as a soccer powerhouse, and in the sphere of college soccer, there is rarely money available for programs outside the elite level to travel across the country for a national team camp.
Yet, the Orange was there and made the most of it.
Last month, U18 MNT forward Benji Lopez (Real Salt Lake-Arizona,/San Diego, Calif.) and defender Jalen Markey gave their verbal commitments to the soon-to-be ACC program.
“I chose Syracuse because when I went on my visit there I just felt like it fit perfectly,” Markey told TopDrawerSoccer.com. “The school is great, the facilities are beyond fantastic, and the soccer is getting better and better each year.”
This year Syracuse is off to a 9-3 start thanks to the contributions of freshmen Alex Bono and Stefanos Stamoulacatos, who were also part of that U18 MNT camp.
With four youth national team players suiting up for the Orange, the program could be competitive in the ACC sooner rather than later.
Markey cited the move to the new conference as a major factor in his commitment.
“Syracuse joining the ACC played a huge role in my decision,” the Sounders prospect said. “The ACC is the best conference in the nation and it’s the only conference I wanted to play my college soccer in.”
He also revealed that he was considering “four other top ACC programs” before selecting the New York school.
The other big part of Markey’s decision was the coaching staff.
“The coaching staff [at Syracuse] is one of the best I’ve been around and are all about the players success on and off the field.”
If head coach Ian McIntyre keeps recruiting national team players, success on the field will be lasting even in the ACC.
Wesley Cain, Forward, Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Commitment: Wright State
Might Wright State have scored a real coup with the recent commitment of Wesley Cain?
The attacker has spent the past few years playing at the Vancouver Whitecaps residency program, and has also represented Canada at the U17 level in CONCACAF qualifying.
“I chose Wright State because the program feels like it was made for me, it's a good
fit,” Cain told TopDrawerSoccer.com. “The staff and I get along really well too, that's just a bonus.”
Next fall, Cain will swap British Columbia for Dayton, Ohio, as he’ll head east and play at Wright State. Naturally, the youngster likes where he’s going.
“The campus, it's a good size and nothing is too far from each other or crowded, the sports facilities are good as well,” he said.
Alex Leondis, Defender, Albertson SC
An experienced defender for Albertson SC in the Development Academy, Alex Leondis caught the eye of one of the Ivy League’s top programs.
A sharp student off the field, he jumped at the chance to commit to the prestigious institution.
“I chose Harvard because I believe Harvard is the finest institution in the country, plays top notch soccer and want to play for Coach Carl Junot who will maximize my potential as a student-athlete,” Leondis told TopDrawerSoccer.com.