Photo from @WakeMSoccer on Twitter
The 2019 cream of the crop in Division I men’s college soccer has a common thread: USL League Two experience. With the collegiate soccer schedule kicking off on Friday, 28 of the 44 players selected in Top Drawer Soccer’s Preseason Men’s Best XI teams have spent time with a League Two club.
All but two of the TDS Preseason First Team has featured in League Two. Remi Prieur (Portland Timbers U23/St. Mary’s (CA)) earns the shout as the nation’s top goalkeeper, with an all-League Two backline of Tanner Beason (San Francisco City/Stanford), Dylan Nealis (Long Island Rough Riders/Georgetown) and Patrick Nielsen (Flint City Bucks/Michigan State) in front of him. A terrific midfield trio of Bruno Lapa (NC Fusion U23/Wake Forest), Giuseppe Barone (Flint City Bucks/Michigan State) and Mauricio Pineda (North Carolina FC U23/North Carolina) supports David Egbo (Black Rock FC/Akron) and Jack Hallahan (Chicago FC United/Michigan) up front.
Almost everyone on the second team has plied their trade in the nation’s top pre-professional league during their college careers. Andrew Thomas (San Francisco City/Stanford) mans the net, with Aime Mabika (Cincinnati Dutch Lions/Kentucky), Josh Bauer (Sounders FC U23/New Hampshire) and Jack Maher (Saint Louis FC U23/Indiana) comprising an intimidating backline. Jesus Perez (Chicago FC United/UIC), Brandon Williamson (Wake FC/Duke) and Kalil El Medkhar (Reading United AC/Kentucky) make up the midfield, while a frontline of Jake Rudel (Portland Timbers U23/St. Mary’s (CA)), Edward Kizza (SIMA Aguilas/Pittsburgh) and Phillip Goodrum (Brazos Valley Cavalry/UNC Wilmington) are sure to score plenty of goals.
Over half the third team has League Two playing experience. Brian Saramago (New York Red Bulls U23/Loyola (MD)) shares the striker duties with 2019 League Two co-Golden Boot winner Kyle Edwards (Brazos Valley Cavalry/UTRGV). The dynamic Rey Ortiz (Portland Timbers U23/Portland) partners with teammate Blake Bodily (Portland Timbers U23/Washington) and Manuel Ferriol (Long Island Rough Riders/James Madison) in the middle of the park. Carlo Ritaccio (New York Red Bulls U23/Akron) and Sergi Nus (North Carolina FC U23/Duke) form a tandem at the back.
Though they haven’t played a minute of college soccer yet, these precocious talents have already seen the field in League Two. League Two’s top prospect Ousseni Bouda (Black Rock FC/Stanford) is recognized as one of the nation’s top collegiate newcomers, along with Jesse Ortiz (Brazos Valley Cavalry/Seattle).