#12 Akron Men's Soccer 2014 Preview


Akron Zips

Overall Rank: #12
#1 Mid-American
#12 Akron Men's Soccer 2014 Preview
Akron Team Page


Yet again Akron dominated the MAC and won the regular season and conference tournament titles. In their seventh straight NCAA appearance, the Zips beat Indiana in the first round before falling 1-0 to ninth seeded Marquette in the second. It was a good debut for Coach Jared Embick. As is seemingly always the case, this Akron team has a lot of superb talent to replace. And they should have no problem reloading enough to win the MAC and get back to the NCAA Tournament.

2013 Record: 17-4-1, 5-1-0
2013 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jared Embick

Returning Leaders:
Goals: Adam Najem, Sophomore, M, 4
Assists: Adam Najem, Sophomore, M, 9
Shots: Adam Najem, Sophomore, M, 45
Saves: Jake Fenlason, Junior, GK, 18

Other Key Returnees: F/D Saad Abdul-Salaam, F Ismail Seremba, D Andrew Souders

Key Losses: F Reinaldo Brenes, F Aodhan Quinn, M Eric Stevenson, M Robbie Derschang, M Zac Portillos, M Matt Foldesy, D Louis Cross, D Bryan Gallego, GK Fernando Pina

The Zips have returning talent to build upon. Saad Abdul-Salaam started 19 games in 2013 and can play anywhere on the pitch. He started nine times at right back, eight at forward and a couple at midfield. That versatility gives Coach Embick a lot of options depending on the competition and the developing talent on his roster. Ismail Seremba got off to a great start during his freshman campaign. However, a leg injury put an end to his season after just nine games. The midfield will reload around sophomores Adam Najem and Victor Souto. Najem led the team with nine assists and added four goals. Few players in the nation had a better freshman year than Najem. Souto plays on the other end of the midfield and helps out the defense. Andrew Souders stepped into a full-time starting position along the back line in 2013 and started living up to his potential. This is now his defense to lead. Keeper Jake Fenlason started the last four games of the season. He allowed four goals in those four games, higher than the team average, but it was against some of the tougher competition Akron played all year. Fenlason is a very talented goalie and will have no problem leading this team from the back. This team also brings in another great recruiting class, led by defender Bryce Cregan and forwards Nate Shultz and Stuart Holthusen.

Talent may be returning, but it is tough to overlook all that is lost. Reinaldo Brenes and Aodhan Quinn were the top two goal scorers for the Zips in 2013, combining for 15 of the team’s 33 goals. Midfielder Eric Stevenson added five goals and five assists, while Robbie Derschang added four more goals. Fellow midfielders Zac Portillos and Matt Foldesy are also gone. In the back Akron lost their best defender, Bryan Gallego, and part-time starter Louis Cross. Keeper Fernando Pina recorded eight shutouts as a freshman, but he was going to see a lot of competition from Fenlason and incoming freshman Elliott Rubio. It is hard to imagine Akron not taking a step back, at least at first, with all of those players gone.

Final Projection:
As usual, Akron will find out early what their new players are made of. The Zips start the 2014 campaign with road trips to New Mexico, South Florida and Florida Gulf Coast. Other non-conference games include UCF, Wake Forest, Michigan State, Michigan and Penn State. There is little doubt that a MAC title is in the cards, but it remains to be seen if everything comes together enough for Akron to be a national contender.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Tournament

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 1.50 (60th in nation, 1st in conference)
Goals-Against Average: 0.69 (11, 1)
Shutout Percentage: 0.41 (41, 2)
Save Percentage:  0.792 (53, 2)

Madness 2015 MLS Draft Rankings:
#12 Saad Abdul-Salaam

Madness 2014 Men’s Soccer Recruit Rankings:
#105 Nathan Shultz


See All College Sports Madness Top 44 Men's Soccer Previews