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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

2004 Top 25 Recruiting Classes

College Soccer News determined its 2004 recruiting class rankings with input from key soccer individuals throughout the country. The 2004 selections again confirm that the schools with a winning tradition and with national exposure have an easier go of it when it comes time to attracting the "prime timers." The goal was to use objective criteria to compare the classes to avoid the trap of ranking a class high based on the name of the school rather than the overall strength of the recruiting class. The methods used by College Soccer News to rank the recruiting classes too into account the extent to which a recruiting class filled the perceived gaps a team needed to fill, as well as the overall potential of the recruits. Individual players were evaluated based on a combination of their high school, club, ODP, and regional and national experience. Playing experience against top level competition is a big factor. The rankings factored in extra credit to a recruiting class if the class signaled a step upward for the program. Those programs that overachieved, and there were a few more than the usual number who did in 2004, are recognized in our rankings.

2004 Men's Top 25 Recruiting Classes
1. UCLA - Jorge Salcedo begins his career as the Bruin head coach with the top recruiting class in the nation. An eight member class loaded with a lot of very competitive experience makes UCLA our pick for the top class in the nation two years in a row. U-18 National Team member Michael Zaher from Las Vegas and U-17 National Team member Greg Folk combine with NSCAA All-America selections Kamani Hill and Marvell Wynne to highlight the class. Richard Flores, Edwige Ligonde, Eric Conner, and Ryan Munoz round out the strongest overall class in the country.
2. Duke University - A seven member recruiting class that Duke head coach John Rennie describes as "one of the best classes we've ever had at Duke." An extremely athletic and physically imposing group of recruits that includes five members who were NSCAA All-America selections and three with U.S. Youth National Team experience. Midfielders Tomek Charowski and Michael Videira, forward Spencer Wadsworth, defender Zachary Pope and goalkeeper Justin Papadakis are among the members of the recruiting class that will have an immediate impact on the level of play at Duke.
3. South Florida - George Kiefer's second recruiting class at South Florida reinforces his reputation as a top recruiter. This is a very versatile and talented nine member class with a proven track record at the international and regional level. Forward Rodrigo Hidalgo and midfielder Christian Jimenez with U.S. Youth National Team experience are prime timers. They are joined by Osmany Hernandez, Frankie Slater, and Colby West from the state of Florida, Freddy Hall from St. George, Bermuda, Simon Schoendorf from Germany and Mitchum Ford and Lloyd Hughes from South Africa.
4. North Carolina - Chris Germani, Dax McCarty, and Adam Sloustcher who have all been starters for the U.S. U-17 National Team highlight a ten member recruiting class that should have an immediate impact and that should blend in well with Elmar Bolowich's returning players. Forwards Brooks Griffith and Zach Haines, midfielder Stokes Smith, and defenders Jimmy Holcombe, Cameron Lewis, Andre Sherard, and Michael Walters round out what shapes up to be a class that will provide Bolowich a lot of interesting options regarding how and where he utilizes his players.
5. Maryland - They can't fully replace the talent Maryland lost but they do come close. Regarding his 7 new recruits Sasho Cirovski stated "I can't wait to blend this class into our team." He added "This incoming class has three things in common: great character, intelligent soccer minds and tremendous competitiveness." This dynamic and highly touted class includes four NSCAA All-America selections. Look for Stephen King, Maurice Edu, Kevin Reiman, Darmen Allen, Eric Brunner, Aki Kadotani and Keith Vereb to win a lot of matches for the Terps during their tenure in College Park.
6. Wake Forest - Jay Vidovich brings in another top notch five member recruiting class that includes three players with U.S. Youth National Team experience, four who have been honored as NSCAA All-Americans, and the 2003 Gatorade National High School Player of the Year defender Patrick Phelan from Enfield, Connecticut. Midfielder Cooper Bryant, forward Alimer Gonzalez, goalkeeper Marcus Rein and defender Julian Valentin are all ready for prime time. "It's an exciting class" stated Vidovich.
7. SMU - Schellas Hyndman's eight member class is fast, strong, hard working, and capable of making their presence known. U. S. U-18 National Team members forward Danny Vazquez from Miami and goalkeeper Steve Sanbo from Columbus, Ohio highlight the class along with highly touted midfielder Israel Jones from Cleveland, Ohio. Floridians Philip Calderon, Mark Marion, and Tim McRae join Marshall Plow from Ohio and David Gomez, the lone recruit from Texas, to produce a very competitive and balanced bunch of young Mustangs. Hyndman, who has seen his share of top talent during his tenure at SMU, stated "We are very fortunate to have these young men as part of our program."
8. Virginia Tech - Hokie head coach Oliver Weiss was on target when he stated "This class will help us climb to higher heights. Each year we are trying to improve our squad with a new class, and I know we are going to do just that with these signees." The Hokie recruiting class includes 7 players with a proven record of success in high school, club, and ODP play. This very athletic, quick, and skilled group includes forward Gordon Bengtson who set a Rhode Island state record for goals in a season, midfielders Marcus Reed, Kevin Edwards, Brandon Miller, and Nicholas Norwood who will add to the Virginia Tech attack. Defenders Bryan Collier and Ian Taylor will add depth to the Hokie defense.
9. UC Santa Barbara - This ten member class may have more of an immediate impact than any class in the country. The class includes four experienced and proven transfers. Junior forwards Jonathan Davis who is a transfer from UNC and Trey Meek who is a transfer from Indiana should blend in well with returning forwards Neil Jones and Drew McAthy. The class includes a pair of talented junior college players in left footed Ivan Becerra who was an NSCAA JUCO All-American last year from Mission College and Tino Nunez from Compton College. The class also includes 3 members of Canada's U-17 National Team and 3 freshmen from California with top notch club experience.
10. Clemson - A balanced, athletic, and physical recruiting class that addresses the areas where the Tigers need help. Clemson mentor Trevor Adair calls the class "one of the best class of signees I have had since I have been at Clemson." The class has a ton of very competitive club and ODP experience at the state and regional levels. Nate Sturgis from Jacksonville, Florida who is a member of the U.S. U-17 National Team highlights the eight member freshmen class that includes Danny Poe from California, Edwin Wotorsti from North Carolina, Jeff Routh from Maryland, Kevin Howell from Virginia, and Mark Buchholz, Ryan Roushandel and Havird Usry from Atlanta, Georgia.
11. Notre Dame - The Irish have some gaps to fill due to the loss of a very talented and motivated senior class. However, Bobby Clark enters his fourth season as the Irish head coach with another strong seven member recruiting class that represents five different states and England. This bunch of lads has great touch on the ball and they all come from winning programs. Clark stated "This is a really solid class that we are very excited about." Midfielder John Mousinho from Buckinghamshire, England, forward Kurt Martin from McAllen, Texas and forward Joe Lapira from Lake Charles, Louisiana highlight a class that also includes Andrew Benton, John Cavanaugh, Kyle Dulworth and Alex Yoshinaga.
12. Oregon State - The Beavers have holes to fill going into 2004 but help is on the way. Dana Taylor brings in a class that will add value from the get-go. Taylor stated "This is a tremendous class. We've very excited to bring these 6 student-athletes into the fold in 2004." The class includes midfielder Alex Christensen who was Nevada's Gatorade Player of the Year and Region IV ODP team members forward Brett Gardner, midfielder Mason Webb, and defenders Loren Hill and Ryan Quinliven. Sophomore transfer Chris Murphy from Fresno State is also a plus. The recruits have the speed, quickness, ball control skill, and overall athletic ability that is becoming a trademark of Taylor's teams.
13. Connecticut - A six member class that includes five recruits and a transfer. This class has a high national profile due in large part to forward Karl Schilling and defender Julius James. Schilling was named the NSCAA Connecticut High School Player of the Year and was a 2003 NSCAA All-American. James from Trinidad and Tobago out of St. Anthony's College should make an immediate contribution to the Husky defense. James enrolled at Connecticut in the spring semester of 2004. Midfielders David Fromayan and Ryan Cordeiro from New York, forward Caesar Lopez from Florida and goalkeeper Geoffrey Anatole who is a transfer from South Carolina complete the class.
14. Indiana University - Mike Freitag's first recruiting class as the Indiana head coach includes a technically sound and athletic four member group with strong Hoosier ties. The class consists of midfielder Brad Yuska who was named the California State Player of the Year, midfielder John Mellencamp who was an Ohio All-State First Team selection and Region II ODP squad member, forward Kevin Noschang who was an NSCAA All-American, a Region II ODP squad member, and an Ohio All-State First Team selection, along with forward Billy Weaver who was named Michigan's Mr. Soccer and was an NSCAA High School All-American. A highly regarded group but overall this class might be a little below the level of talent found in recent Hoosier classes. Time will tell about that. Nonetheless a very good and focused group of recruits.
15. New Mexico - A talented and balanced nine member recruiting class with a background of competitive club play. Lobo head coach Jeremy Fishbein enters his 3rd season at the helm of the New Mexico program with a class that represents 5 states and 4 countries. Fishbein stated "Combining this class with our returning players, we will be able to continue to pursue our goal of making Lobo Soccer one of the elite programs in NCAA Division I." The class includes Mike Porter a defender from Las Cruces, New Mexico, Hans Bevers a forward transfer from Antwerp, Belgium, and defender Andrew Boyens from New Zealand. Midfielder Blake Danaher from Texas is among others who could have an instant impact.
16. Virginia - A tradition rich program. The Cavaliers entered the ACC Tourney last year with a losing record and their streak of 22 consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament in serious jeopardy. With their backs to the wall George Gelnovatch's squad won the ACC Tourney to claim the league's automatic berth. Gelnovatch has again attracted a very good class that includes midfielders Jeremy Barlow, Nico Colaluca, and Dane Murphy. Murphy from Redding, Connecticut has a wealth of experience at the highest levels and will contribute immediately. Barlow has been outstanding at Langley High School and for Reston F.C. Colaluca from Coventry, Rhode Island is a talented winger with a ton of experience.
17. Stanford - Cardinal mentor Brett Simon brings a solid 5 member recruiting class to the Farm. Simon stated "Along with this year's class, the foundation has been set to put Stanford Soccer back into championship contention." Whether this class can do that is an unanswered question but they will likely have the opportunity to contribute early. The Cardinal recruits include Mark Bartlett from Wellington, New Zealand who is a member of the New Zealand U-20 National Team, NSCAA All-America selections defender Scott Bolkan from Salem, Oregon and midfielder Evan Morgan from Littleton, Colorado, as well as midfielder Luke Sager, who was an ESP All-Star, and forward Dan Shapiro from Connecticut.
18. Michigan - The standard has been forever raised at Michigan due to the success of the 2003 squad that earned an NCAA Tourney berth and reached the Elite Eight. Midfielder Steve Heckler who was the Michigan Gatorade Player of the Year and forward Tolu Olowolafe who was the Delaware Gatorade Player of the Year, defenders Justin Aramaki and Michael Schnieder, midfielder Michael Park and forward Cam Cameron round out the freshmen recruits. Midfielder Ryan Alexander transfers to Michigan from Wake Forest. Alexander is a former "Mr. Soccer" in the state of Michigan will have two years of eligibility with the Wolverines. He should contribute immediately.
19. St. John's - Dave Masur's Red Storm had one of the most successful years in the history of the program in 2003 finishing the season as the number 2 ranked team in the country with a 17-6-3 record. The Red Storm have gaps to fill due to the loss of players like Hermann Trophy winner Chris Wingert among others. However, Masur signed a very capable recruiting class that includes forward Justin Abel , defenders Brandon Ott and Chris Carroll, and goalkeeper Jason Landers. The class is quick and tenacious and should quickly make the transition to collegiate soccer.
20. St. Louis - A small but focused class. Graduation took a toll on the Billiken backline so that was the major focus of coach Dan Donigan's recruiting. Defender Brett Branan transferred to St. Louis from Clemson and was able to participate in spring matches. Donovan also signed defender Tim Ward who is a member of the U.S. U-17 National team and defender Brandon Gasparovic who was the Gatorade Missouri State Player of the Year and an NSCAA High School All-America selection. Goalkeeper Pat Disbennett from Webster Grove, Missouri rounds out the class. The Billikens should again be very competitive in 2004.
21. Furman - An 11 member class that includes six members of the Region III ODP squad. Paladin mentor Doug Allison stated "I believe this group will make a tremendous impact on the Furman soccer program." This group may not be as decorated as some Furman classes have been but they are very talented and definitely have the potential to be very good before their tenure in Greenville is over. Forward Robert Hunter who has attended the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida and defender Richard Jata are among those from this class who should have an immediate impact. Brian Bell, Chris Davis, Jonathan Leathers, and Logan Roberts were also Region III ODP squad members.
22. Washington - Dean Wurzberger likes the top talent in Washington to remain in-state. He did a pretty good job of doing that in 2004 with a ten member recruiting class that includes 7 student-athletes who are from Washington. Wurzberger stated "This 2004 class is without a doubt one of the top recruiting classes I have had here in my 12 years." Eric Blythe from Stillwater, Oklahoma and Nick Loveless will strengthen the Huskie midfield while Ely Allen, Bret Hite, and Spencer Schmidt from Abbotsford, B.C. are among others should add a little punch, diversity and depth to the offense.
23. Old Dominion University - A very capable seven member class. ODU head coach Alan Dawson's recruiting class does a good job of addressing the areas where the Monarchs need assistance. Freshmen midfielder A.J. Kulp who was a two-time NSCAA Regional All-American selection, sophomore forward Edson Elcock who is a transfer from Wingate University were he was named the Freshman of the Year in the SAC last year year, and defender David Horst who was a Regional All-America selection highlight a seven member class that also includes midfielders Branden McPherson and Jared Kent, and goalkeepers Jon Curry-Edwards from Brielle, New Jersey and Bryan Fossi from Lilitz, Pennsylvania.
24. Tulsa - Coach Tom McIntosh signed a nine member class that included midfielder Lawson Vaughn who is a transfer from South Carolina, Daniel Wasson who is a transfer from the United States Air Force Academy and keeper Brad Lowyns who is a transfer from Mercer Community College. Wasson tallied 17 goals last year to rank third in the country in goals scored . McIntosh stated "I feel like we addressed our depth needs at goalkeeper and up front, where we lost a talented group of players to graduation." He added "I think this class should be able to step right in and contribute immediately."
25. Boston University - An interesting ten member class that may prove to be the surprise class of the year. Neil Roberts stated "It's a great class with great balance at each position, a group of leaders and winners." The class includes midfielder John Cooper who is a transfer from Clemson, defender Miles Dunn from the IMG Academy, forward Eddie Miller who played on England's U-17 team, midfielder Shane Westbrook who is a member of the Region II ODP team, and defender Asher McClellan from the IMG Academy among others.
For more information on college soccer recruiting and a complete list of the Top 40 classes, you can visit:

  • College Soccer News