Do you remember a specific game or team vividly? Do you recall where you were when you first saw that team play? There is no denying that certain teams have a lasting impact more so than others.
The staff at TopDrawerSoccer decided to name our favorite Men’s College Soccer teams that we’ve covered - taking nothing more than enjoyment into account - below.
Akron Zips (2010)
It’s been a decade since this team graced the field, and you can still see that impact that the squad left on college soccer today - plus the handful of players still making their marks on the professional game around the world. The 2010 team was Caleb Porter’s fourth season in charge of the Zips program - it was the first time that the squad consisted of only players he had recruited to Akron.
This team exemplified the famous moniker “Death by 1000 Passes”. Sure, the foundation for that identity was put in place years earlier, but the Zips became that mantra during the 2010 season while also crushing the competitive spirit of any team that got in their way.
The 7-1 thrashing over Michigan perhaps was the poignant exclamation of dominance this team asserted through the season, but it was one of many lasting beatdowns. The Zips finished the season with a 22-1-2 record.
Akron, the No. 1 team in the country throughout the season, earned a spot on the National Game of the Week against Tulsa on Fox Soccer Channel at the end of the September. While most coaches are thinking about staying healthy and competing for a conference championship, Porter told Dean Linke that his standard is the national championship and falling short would be a disappointment. Porter also humorously quipped that Akron doesn’t schedule easy wins after talking about victories over Wake Forest and North Carolina.
Porter’s words held true in December when Akron lifted the trophy in Santa Barbara. The first NCAA National Championship for the program.
Five players from that team (Darlington Nagbe, Perry Kitchen, Zarek Valentin, Kofi Sarkodie, and Michael Nanchoff) signed Generation adidas contracts after the season and joined MLS. Two seniors were also selected in the draft (Chris Korb and Anthony Ampaipitakwong). Seven of the 11 starters were playing professional soccer the following season to give you an idea of how strong the roster was for the Zips in 2010.
That Zips team was as close to possession dominate perfection that we have seen in college soccer, and many programs strive to reach that level again as they build their rosters and ideology today.
Georgetown Hoyas (2012)
The Hoyas and head coach Brian Wiese finally secured that elusive national championship last fall.
But it was this group, back in 2012, that cemented Georgetown’s status as one of the perennial powers in men’s Division I college soccer.
A trip to Spain as part of the spring season earlier that year served as a catalyst for high-caliber, possession-based attacking soccer in the fall. Led by the silky smooth junior forward Steve Neumann, the team had quality all over the field. It marked the first Georgetown squad that would send a good chunk of its players to the MLS Draft: along with Neumann, Tommy Mueller, Ian Christianson, Joey Dhillon, Jimmy Nealis, Tomas Gomez and Keegan Rosenberry, that, combined with the remarkable campaign in 2012, announced the Hoyas as a premier program.
At that point in the men’s college game, the Hoyas weren’t viewed on the same plane as some of the powers in the game. But the soccer they displayed during an outstanding 19-4-3 season and a spot in the national championship game.
While much of the focus offensively was on Neumann, who could play between the lines as a support striker next to freshman Brandon Allen, the junior scored 10 goals and added 13 assists that season. Dhillon and Rosenberry surged forward from their outside back spots, while Nealis manned the left flank. It was clear that the trip to Spain, and watching La Liga matches in person, had made a significant effort on the group.
The group also contested one of the best games in the College Cup ever staged. The national semifinal against local foe Maryland down in Hoover, Alabama featured eight goals and was decided on penalty kicks.
Even if Georgetown was gassed and unable to crack a tough Indiana side, losing 1-0 in the final, the team had made its park and in many ways laid the foundation for the success of 2019. And the way the team attacked, consolidated the ball and progressed forward remains memorable eight years later.