Perhaps one of the most interesting developments in college soccer in recent time is the influx of foreign players and their impact on Division I men’s soccer.
Look no further than the Generation adidas class that recently departed college soccer’s ranks early: five of the six signees came from outside the United States.
Players come to play college soccer in a variety of ways, with players from Europe flocking after failing to secure a club deal, while boarding schools attract some top talent as well. Then of course, there’s the regular club route as well.
In the wake of Signing Day, below are some of the internationals to watch in 2016 that were announced in the past few days.
D Reggie Laryea/M Marcel Zajec, Akron
The Canadian pair head to Akron from Ontario-based Sigma FC. Both Laryea and Zajec are players in the Akron mold: smart, technical and talented with a high soccer IQ. Akron’s re-loaded in impressive fashion with its just-announced crop of ten players. Laryea is a center back capable of playing in the midfield as well, while Zajec is a creative, attacking midfielder/forward who will help the Zips cope with the early departures of the older Laryea and Adam Najem.
M Bruno Lapa, Wake Forest
The Brazilian attacking midfielder is on his way to Winston-Salem via the prestigious Montverde Academy. A good finisher and creative attacking player, he seems like he’ll be a natural fit for Wake’s up tempo possession style. Playing with such high-caliber teammates in Florida will help Lapa’s transition to ACC soccer.
M Jan Maertins, Marquette
Looking to rebound from a down campaign in 2015, Marquette has turned to a trio of recruits from Europe in its ten-player class. Maertins is an attacking player who can play as an attacking midfielder or up front, a good asset for a team that lost three of its senior forwards to graduation. He’ll certainly have plenty of opportunities to see minutes as he adjusts to a new country and new team.
F Noah Billingsley, UC Santa Barbara
One of the most intriguing youth internationals to hit college soccer shores in recent times, Billingsley played at last year’s U20 World Cup for host country New Zealand. The expectations are high for the forward as he makes the trans-Pacific trip to Santa Barbara.
“Noah is one of the most decorated players out of New Zealand to play college soccer in a while,” UCSB head coach Tim Vom Steeg said in a release. “His talent level is on par with other New Zealand internationals to land in Santa Barbara like Tony Lochhead and Michael Boxall. He has an excellent work rate and good energy. The best part is he is still developing, so he has tremendous upside. We expect him to immediately add to our offense."
F Ifunyachi Achara, Georgetown
With six starters from the 2015 Hoyas now in Major League Soccer, there are some big holes for Head Coach Brian Wiese to fill. Up front, the addition of Achara could be a massive boost to an offense that loses the program’s all-time leading scorer Brandon Allen. A former teammate of No. 1 overall pick Jack Harrison at the Berkshire School, Ahara is a player who can come in right away and excel at the college level thanks to his pace and physicality. The Nigerian will need to hit the ground running if the Hoyas are going to remain near the top of the national rankings.
M Max Moser, Duke
The latest international recruit heading to Durham is Moser, an outside midfielder/back who turned down a pro contract offer in his native Austria to head to the ACC. The Blue Devils have a Top 10 recruiting class signed on as they look to re-establish themselves as a contender in their very demanding league.
“Max comes to Duke with a wealth of experience playing at the highest level in Austria,” Duke head coach John Kerr said in a release. “He is a versatile player who can get up and down the flanks working on both sides of the ball. He can beat players on the dribble and serves a great ball into the box. We expect big things from Max and look forward to having him here at Duke.”
F Emmanuel Twumasi, Wake Forest
Another international player set to join the Demon Deacons is Twumasi, a Ghanaian native who came to the U.S. and the Kent School via the Right to Dream program. The High School All American scored the winning goal in the 2015 All-American game. Twumasi is another exciting player who should be able to make an impact for Wake in the final third.