Michigan Men’s Soccer Season Preview

Michigan Men’s Soccer Season Preview Comment Count

skurnie August 19th, 2015 at 1:58 PM

[Louro – MgoBlue.com]

Michigan Soccer kicks off their 16th season this fall and will attempt to rebound after what ended up in a disappointing 2014 campaign. At the risk of sounding like Taylor Twellman or Gary Danielson, the key to winning games is scoring goals (and being in the SEC or something). I’m now going to write 10,000 words about goals and winning.

Michigan scored 20 goals in 18 matches last season. That’s 1.11 goals per game. It’s not 27 for 27 bad, but it’s not good, either. If the 4-3-3 can be effective, I believe this team has an outside shot at an NCAA at-large bid.

Defensively, Michigan only allowed 23 goals in 18 matches last season and they had a very difficult schedule (Ohio State Maryland, Penn State, Notre Dame, Akron, Indiana and Oakland all made the NCAA tournament) and they return all four starters.

Key Losses:

Ahinga Selemani: The highly-touted recruit from Pioneer only managed one goal in his freshman season and promptly transferred to Long Beach State, where he had previously committed prior to flipping to Michigan. Not the Peppers of soccer, as it turned out.

Tyler Arnone: Michigan’s midfield leader the past few years graduated and signed a pro deal with the Real Monarchs (Real Salt Lake’s development team). Arnone is a very solid midfielder and will be missed in the middle of the park.

Adam Grinwis: A four-year player, he graduated and signed with the Rochester Rhinos in the USL, a New England Revolution affiliate. He’s one of the best goalkeeper’s Michigan has produced but Louro is more than ready to step in full-time.

Marcos Ugarte: Played two years at Michigan after following Chaka Daley from Providence, the midfielder also signed with Rochester.

Nate Kohl: The Justin Boren Award winner transferred to Ohio State after being redshirted at Michigan last season.

Key Returners:

Colin McAtee (RS Senior, Midfield/Forward): Michigan’s lone All B1G Ten selection and leading scorer (8 goals) last season. McAtee has a really high work rate (think: motor, football fans) and is one of the faster players on the team. His ability to score goals and be a general nuisance in the midfield and out wide will be a key factor to this team’s success.

James Murphy (Senior, Midfield): Murphy has played numerous midfield positions during his time at Michigan but is probably best as a bulldog-type Michael Bradley midfielder. The midfield is still in experimental phase after only one exhibition and about a week of practice, but he’ll be playing somewhere. He’s best known for scoring the goal that looked so much like Thierry Henry that Henry himself even retweeted the highlight.

He’s more than just a highlight—he’s a solid player.

Evan Louro (Sophomore, Goalkeeper): Louro is a New York Red Bull product who has also played for the U-18 US National Team. U-20 Coach Tab Ramos told me last year that he “is certainly a player we’re looking at”. There were a lot of questions about whether he would turn pro after his freshman season but he’s back and he’s the number one shot stopper. He’s one of the best young goalkeepers in the US Youth system and will be a huge factor this season.

William Mellors-Blair (Senior, Forward): WMB is an interesting option on the wing and showed flashes of what he can do last season. He’s strong on the ball and has incredible pace. He started every match last season (scoring two goals with three assists) but I expect him to have a very good season this year. He lead Detroit City FC in scoring this summer with 10 goals in 8 matches. He’s a real threat on the outside wing of the preferred 4-3-3 formation.

TJ VanSlooten (RS Senior, Forward): VanSlooten took a medical redshirt last season but tied for the scoring lead two years ago. He could start and will see a decent amount of playing time.

Defenders: The back four along with Louro should be this team’s strongpoint this season. I suspect (L-R in front of Louro) the lineup will be Rylee Woods—Andre Morris—Lars Eckenrode—Billy Stevens but true freshman Marcello Borges (another NY Red Bull guy) can play both right and left back. Jack Brown, who redshirted last season should see some decent playing time off the bench as well.

Newcomers:

Francis Atuahene (Freshman, Forward): Atuahene is the gem in this recruiting class for Chaka Daley. He started at Center Forward in Michigan’s exhibition against Butler and managed to score a goal and had an assist as well. I was surprised at how polished he looked against Butler compared to his highlight videos from high school. He is a direct player and often ran directly at defenders and looked to beat them off the ball.

Marcello Borges (Freshman, Defender): Borges was highly recruited and can play both outside back positions and figures on playing a decent amount off the bench for Michigan this season. He’s also played with the U-18 US National Team.

Ivo Cerda (Freshman, MF): Cerda is a Chilean midfielder who will likely play in the center of midfield alongside Murphy. He started the exhibition against Butler and was fairly solid. He’ll split time with Taylor Anderson and Brett Nason.

Schedule:

Michigan faces five teams in the pre-season NCAA Top 25, including at #6 Creighton in the season opener. Daley has been bullish on the schedule again this season, scheduling non-conference matchups with the aforementioned Creighton, Oakland, Notre Dame and West Virginia (11-7-1 last season). The other key matchups are in-conference battles with powerhouses #9 Michigan State, #13 Maryland, #14 Indiana and #25 Penn State.

Outlook:

There are a lot of question marks with this team (sound familiar?) but I think they will score more goals than last season and the defense should be stout. The schedule is difficult but Michigan played well against their toughest opponents last season and struggled against teams like Bowling Green, FIU and Western Michigan. Those are the games they need to win this season. If they can do that and manage some draws against the likes of Maryland, Indiana, Michigan State, they could make a run at an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament.

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