August is here. To some, that means the start of fake football, aka boring NFL preseason games. For others, the soccer calendar is wiped clean and the season begins anew. While European leagues kick off on the other side of the pond, there’s college soccer preseason to look forward to over here. In just over two weeks, the UConn men’s soccer team will have their first exhibition game at Rutgers.
With that in mind, let’s check in with what’s been going on around the program.
Husky fans that tuned in to the MLS All-Star game on Wednesday might have recognized a familiar face between the posts. Andre Blake, representing the Philadelphia Union, turned in a 30 minute shift as the All-Stars took on Atletico Madrid. Coming on in the 30th minute and exiting in the 59th, Blake logged one save and conceded one goal, as the All-Stars fell to an Atleti B-side (yikes) 3-0.
This was Blake’s second All-Star nod, and the Husky legend will now turn his attention toward securing the Union’s top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Here’s an update on other Huskies in the pros:
- Kwame Awuah (2013-16) has appeared in every game for Forge FC of the Canadian Premier League.
- Cyle Larin (2013-2014) raised eyebrows by signing with iconic Turkish team Besiktas in 2018 and has now been loaned out to Belgium club Zulte Waregem for one year. It will be interesting to see if he can break into the squad this preseason.
- Jake Nerwinski (2013-16) continues to be a rock for the Vancouver Whitecaps, starting in 18 of the 19 games.
- Abdou Mbacke Thiam (2015-18) has returned from his injury, and is third on Louisville City FC in goals (2).
- Scott Levene (2014-17) has logged five games and five starts for Memphis 901.
- Jacob Hauser-Ramsey (2016-18) is teammates with Levene in Memphis and has started in 11 of the 13 matches he’s appeared in.
But now let’s talk about this year’s squad. The esteemed Daniel Connolly and Goal Patrol lieutenant recently broke down the six UConn players who have left the team:
Looking at the UConn men's soccer roster, six players have left: seniors Austin Aviza (Providence), Munir Saleh (CPL, since released), juniors Frantz Innocent Jr. (New Haven), Josh Burnett, freshmen Cristian Suvak (Sacred Heart) and Steffen Yeates.— Daniel Connolly (@DanielVConnolly) July 25, 2019
Aviza, Burnett, Saleh, and Yeates saw consistent burn last year. This means Gianluca Catalano should get the first crack at first-team goalkeeper minutes.
Saleh, Burnett, and Yeates together leave a chunk of minutes open in the midfield, opening up opportunity for incoming freshman Ben Awashie, redshirt sophomore Cole Venner, or sophomore Ibrahima Diop should he be dropped back to winger with Jordan Hall a target man up top. But of course, anyone can surprise in preseason and vie for those minutes.
As the season inches closer, we’ll take a deeper dive into the Huskies this year, as they look to build on last year’s return to the NCAA tournament.