Looks like we'll be playing Akron come Friday...
Akron bombed Michigan 7-1 earlier this year, and UM has not lost since.
How on earth did Akron become a national soccer power? They played for the championship last year, didn't they? Seems so unlikely ...
I get the coaching part. With hockey, though, there's a smaller set of schools and a history of smaller ones (e.g., Northern Michigan) having success.
At the championship level, soccer has been dominated by mostly BCS-ish schools:
That makes sense to me. Akron's overall budget can't possibly be that high, certainly not enough for them to be subsidizing non-revenue sports for no reason. They're not in a position to field innumerable teams like (e.g.) Ohio State. I'd expect them to be behind bigger schools in available $, etc.
As well, soccer is a national sport. I can't see where Akron would have any regional advantages.
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Aside: If you'd care include any "colorful" animated GIFs in your response, that would be appreciated. :)
It's almost purely coaching. Caleb Porter is a "players coach" and Akron is sort of like the Kentucky BBall program of NCAA soccer. You go there to get a year or two of experience before going pro. But I agree with you, it's weird that Akron of all places has such a great program. Porter is also from Kzoo... so whenever Burns retire perhaps DB should give this guy a call.
And although soccer is played at more schools than hockey, there aren't that many schools with mens soccer programs.
Ohio has outstanding high school soccer. You might recognize St. Ignatius as the football powerhouse that is frequently ranked nationally, but they are also one of the top high school soccer programs in the country, and (I think) finished the season ranked #1 nationally, or at least very close to it. Akron practically takes their pick of the NE Ohio soccer talent, such as Darlington Nagbe, who had two high schools fighting over him. Even Cleveland State has a decent program, basically bringing in the Cleveland-area talent that isn't good enough for Akron.
Excellent point, but Ohio has outstanding soccer talent in general. High School isn't as big as developing players for soccer as it is for football. Soccer players get developed through club teams (kind of like AAU), and the Cleveland/Detroit areas have a lot of talent. It's really nice to see Michigan taking advantage of this finally, in lieu of Indiana poaching players from surrounding states.
Akron essentially gives offers to everyone who's on the US-18 team and since they're such a powerhouse they get most of the good players. They certainly have a good coach, but it's the program that recruits itself. I believe when they got him from a smaller school a lot of very good recruits came with him and from there its just grown.
I went to the Michigan game at Akron earlier this year, and I have to imagine their gameday atmosphere is one of (probably the) best in the country. It seems like most of the town comes out to the games. It was a Tuesday night and there were hundreds of students out for the game. The place was electric.
As for the game itself, 7-1 is very deceiving. They scored a few of those later in the second half after Michigan had gotten their first or second players sent off. The game was close leading up to halftime, but Akron blew it open in the second half. Players got very frustrating and made a couple dirty challenges. Michigan is certainly playing a lot better and should be able to put up a fight on neutral territory. That being said, it's very hard to compete with a team that is better than you at 10 of the 11 positions (Soony being the exception). Who knows, anything can happen.
They won at PKs. They can't be any worse than Brokezehpost or Givvems.
If you are an Akron, Lake State, Or even Augusta state, it is a lot easier to pick a sport like Soccer, Hockey, or Golf if you want to be the best. Schools like those can't even pray to compete with the big boys in major revenue sports, but they can put all of their revenue and effort into one sport that flies under the radar and fits into the community fabric.
I still don't fully understand Akron in that sense, though. Hockey fits into a northern school like Lake St pretty well. Golf obviously fits into the social fabric of Augusta. Maybe everyone in Akron has found a new sport to play since LBJ left. Whatever the case, it is a lot easier for an Akron to compete in soccer than it ever would be in football or basketball.
They are a cute story, but I hope this season ends for them on Friday.
Porter is a great coach--he recruits really well and has Akron playing a better (more attractive) style than practically anyone else in college soccer and more than a few MLS teams (stylistically). Consequence of this is that they're loaded: their starting lineup has at least 8 guys who will go pro in MLS/Europe sooner or later.
I think his next job is in MLS, so I wouldn't count on his being hired by Michigan.