For men’s college players looking to stay sharp in the summer, the National Premier Soccer League has carved out a niche alongside the PDL in providing a platform for that.
Action kicked off last week, with a handful of teams involved in U.S. Open Cup play. College players are spread out on teams around the country.
Here are 10 college players to keep an eye on as the NPSL season builds momentum.
D Lars Eckenrode, AFC Ann Arbor (Michigan)
Since arriving in Ann Arbor back in 2013, Lars Eckenrode has emerged as a consistent option, starting all 17 games last fall. He’s already bagged a goal in a pair of starts for Ann Arbor this season, as he’s elected to stay in Michigan instead of heading back home to his native Virginia.
M William Eskay, FC Frederick (William & Mary)
One of William & Mary’s best offensive players over his first two college seasons, Eskay earned All-CAA Third-Team honors at the end of 2015. Showed the ability to both score goals (finishing with seven) and create them, chipping in four assists as a sophomore. He’ll be one of FC Frederick’s leading threats.
M Cody Sweatte, Fredericksburg FC (VCU)
A depth player for VCU as a freshman, Sweatte made 20 appearances, with six coming from the start in 2015. The Virginia native played in Germany before returning to the States to play college soccer, and he should be a key cog for Fredericksburg FC. They kick off their NPSL season on May 27.
On the back of a solid freshman season that earned him a spot on the American Athletic Conference All-Rookie Team, Smith should be a cornerstone for the Vaqueros. Capable of playing in the midfield or as an outside back, keep an eye on his performances in the NPSL, as he has a bright future ahead of him.
F Alan Winn, Carolina Railhawks U23 (North Carolina)
Electing to play summer soccer for the Railhawks’ NPSL side in lieu of returning to Texas, Winn’s another promising youngster who will have an opportunity to impress. Fresh off a season where he scored six goals and added four assists for the Tar Heels, the momentum building for the next college season begins now.
D Wesley Suggs, Richmond Strikers (Virginia)
A plethora of current and former Virginia players dot the roster on Richmond Strikers. Suggs has the brightest future of all of them as he enters his third year of eligibility at the ACC program. The physical tools are there for Suggs, who stands at 6-foot-2 and has the build coaches would look for in a center back.
M Dennis Zapata, Jacksonville Armada U23 (Florida Gulf Coast(m))
The Orlando City Academy product is sticking to Florida for the summer, though it’s for the Armada’s U23 side in the NPSL. His production was limited to a single assist, though the Atlantic Sun All-Freshman Team member has potential to make a big impact for this fall.
F Brian White, Carolina Railhawks U23 (Duke)
One of Duke’s best offensive players in 2015, White’s an exciting attacking talent that should provide width for Carolina’s U23s. Formerly of PDA’s excellent player development program, White has the chance to be one of the best young talents in the NPSL this summer.