Four years in soccer parlance is practically a lifetime.
Once, perhaps as recently as five or six years ago, men’s college programs could largely expect to keep their top players all four years. There was nowhere else for them to go without leaving the country, aside from a Generation adidas contract from MLS only doled out to around 5-10 players per year. For lack of competing options, college coaches could expect to keep a nucleus together for years.
This is, obviously, not the case anymore. Scouting’s advanced to the point that the best players in the country are routinely skimmed off the top by pro clubs, either at home or abroad. The GA initiative still only admits so many, but the advancement of Homegrown rules and the USL create an entire other league these players can join. Which means an increase in non-seniors leaving their college teams early to play pro ball.
This past offseason witnessed an exodus at the top heretofore unseen in the men’s DI college game. The numbers are still naturally limited by the amount of pro roster spots, but more game-changing talent flew the college coop early in the 2016-17 offseason than ever before. The departure of these five difference-makers (plus a few more) should have the biggest impact on the 2017 season.