By Kyle Caron
UConn men’s soccer has been one of the most consistently successful collegiate soccer programs in the country over the last 50 years. Since 1960, the Huskies have seen 12 conference championships, 34 NCAA tournament appearances, and two national championships, with the most recent coming in 2000. With such success on the field, more than 30 UConn players were able to continue their careers in the pros with four of them currently active in the MLS. Here is how they have been doing since moving on from college.
After making 64 appearances as a defender and midfielder from 2013-16 with UConn, Awuah returned to his youth club of Sigma FC to play for their Senior squad in League1 Ontario. Having gained enough notoriety from his various accolades at UConn, including several First Team All-Conference awards, he earned a call up to the 2017 MLS Combine. Following a brief stint with his home club in summer 2016, Awuah was drafted No. 16 overall by New York City FC in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. Shortly after, he made his debut for the club on May 7 as a sub in the 90th minute in a 3-1 win over Atlanta United FC. Though he as only made three appearances for the club so far, Awuah has shown promise, even gaining a spot on the Canadian U-23 National team.
Jake Nerwinski spent all four years of his college career as a defender for the Huskies from 2013-16 where he gained a spot on the AAC First Team list as well as the NSCAA First Team All-East Region twice. Similar to Awuah, Nerwinski’s professional career is still young, having been drafted seventh overall in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft by the Vancouver Whitecaps. Nerwinski made his MLS debut on March 11 as a starter in a 3-2 loss to San Jose. Since then, he’s seen action in 18 games, notching four assists — the second most of any MLS rookie. He’s played well enough in his first season to earn a nomination for the 2017 MLS Rookie of the Year Award.
Since his time at UConn, Blake has been a star in both the MLS and international play. After being selected first overall in 2014 by Philadelphia Union, he made his debut in a friendly against English Premier League side Crystal Palace in July of that year. It did not take long for Blake’s star power to be noticed as he went on to break a club record with ten saves in a 2015 match against New England Revolution to preserve a 1-1 draw. Less than a year later in July 2016, he was included in the roster for the 2016 MLS All-Star Game. Since then, his accolades have only increased which now include being named to the 2017 MLS All-Star roster, MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, MLS Best XI, and given the esteemed Golden Glove award at the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup for his home nation Jamaica.
Despite only spending two seasons with the Huskies from 2013-14, Cyle Larin shares a lot in common with two other UConn players listed above. Larin played alongside fellow Ontario native Awuah on the youth team at Sigma FC, and like Blake was drafted first overall in the MLS draft, this time by Orlando City in 2015. Since arriving in Orlando, Larin has made a name for himself as one of the best young forwards in the league. In just twenty-seven appearances in his debut season, he managed to net seventeen goals including two hat-tricks which landed him the honor of being named MLS Rookie of the Year in 2015. His hot streak continued into 2016 having scored in each of the first three games of the season. By the end of that year’s campaign, he had tacked on fourteen goals and a selection for the MLS All-Star Game to his resume.