Men’s AAC, Sun Belt, & WCC Previews

Men’s AAC, Sun Belt, & WCC Previews
by Victor Olorunfemi
August 21, 2023

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The TDS preseason men's soccer coverage continues with a preview of the American Athletic, Sun Belt, and West Coast seasons.

American Athletic Conference Preview

With the resurgence of historical powers Tulsa, South Florida, and SMU, and Florida International building on its recent momentum and a record-breaking season from Memphis, the American Athletic has suddenly become one of the premier conferences in college soccer. Last season, they were second to only the ACC in NCAA Tournament bids, with five teams making an appearance, of which the best was Tulsa and FIU making it to the third round. Hopefully, that momentum holds through the coming years. With conference realignment soon to strip the Pac-12 of elite soccer standing, there is room for a conference such as the AAC to step up.

Top Freshmen to Watch:

Isaac Calderon, UAB (#103 Ranked TDS Class of 2023)

Pedro Faife, South Florida (#192 Ranked TDS Class of 2023)

Jaylinn Mitchell, SMU (#198 Ranked TDS Class of 2023)

Will Applegate, Tulsa (2022 Gatorade Oklahoma Player of the Year)

Dino Stavros, Memphis

Top Players to Watch:

Alexander Petraeus, SMU

Alex Lopez, Tulsa

Yushi Nagao, FIU

Lineker Rodrigues dos Santos, Memphis

Shion Soga, South Florida

Sun Belt Preview

With Marshall and Kentucky as established powers and West Virginia's potential to be elite, the Sun Belt is another candidate to fill the void the Pac-12 will soon leave. Kentucky and Marshall gave previews of that last season, as Kentucky accomplished an incredible unbeaten regular season while Marshall made another deep NCAA run, this time to the Round-of-16. Iron sharpens iron, and with those two programs as elite as they are, the rest of the conference will meet the challenge.
*UCF joins the Sun Belt from the AAC.

Top Freshmen to Watch:

Rai Pinto, Marshall (Portugal Youth National Teams)

Robert Valdimarsson, Coastal Carolina (Iceland U17 National Team)

Constantinos Christou, West Virginia (Cyprus U21 National Team)

Isaiah Chisolm, Kentucky (#65 Ranked TDS Class of 2023)

Daman Sangha, South Carolina (#151 Ranked TDS Class of 2023)

Top Players to Watch:

Casper Grening, Kentucky

Matthew Bell, Marshall

Lucca Dourado, UCF

Simon Carlson, Georgia State

Eythor Kjartansson, Coastal Carolina

West Coast Conference Preview

The West Coast Conference may be affected by the ripple effect of mass college realignment, particularly in the Pac-12, which now may disband or add additional teams. The conference is already pretty strong, with Portland presenting a constant force, and last season, a San Diego conference championship meant they returned to the tournament for the first time since 2014. With Portland making a run to the quarterfinals and bringing in the second-ranked recruiting class with four players in the top 100, they are favorites to win the WCC.

Top Freshmen to Watch:

Steven Ramirez, San Diego (#49 Ranked TDS Class of 2023)

Diego Rosas, Portland (#52 Ranked TDS Class of 2023)

Ian Silva, Gonzaga (Puerto Rico Senior National Team)

Martin Kwende Jr., Santa Clara (#163 Ranked TDS Class of 2023)

Rylan Smith, San Francisco (#178 Ranked TDS Class of 2023)

Top Players to Watch:

Trevor Dillon, San Diego

Nicholas Fernandez, Portland

Louis Sterobo, Saint Mary’s

Max Hamelink, San Francisco

Samuel Saiz Herraiz, Pacific

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