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NSCAA Preseason Top 25: Louisville nabs top spot, rebuilt Akron follows in second


Photo by Tony Quinn/


For much of last season, Louisville and Akron were fixtures near the top of the NSCAA Top 25, and the voters expect much of the same for 2011.

Louisville received the No. 1 spot on the strength of a strong 2010 campaign and returns of key attacking players Dylan Mares and Colin Rolfe. Akron defeated the Cardinals in the College Cup last fall, but Caleb Porter saw his team decimated by graduations and an exodus to the MLS through Generation Adidas. Jamaican striker Darren Mattocks' return paired with a promising upcoming class was enough to convince the voters that the Zips deserved the second spot.

North Carolina saw the departure of long-time coach Elmar Bolowich and playmaker Michael Farfan, but a strong underclassman representation puts the Tar Heels in third place and makes them the early favorite in the always competitive Atlantic Coast Conference.

Maryland and SMU, both of which missed out on last season's College Cup thanks to overtime losses, round out the top five. UCLA, most experts' dark-horse contender for a national championship, comes in at sixth while Bolowich's new team, Creighton, cracks the top 10.

Here is a full rundown of the preseason Top 25 poll.


  1. Louisville
  2. Akron
  3. North Carolina 
  4. Maryland
  5. SMU
  6. UCLA
  7. California
  8. Connecticut
  9. Michigan
10. Creighton
11. Brown
12. Notre Dame
13. William & Mary
14. UC Santa Barbara
15. Ohio State
16. South Carolina
17. Indiana
18. Penn State
19. Michigan State
20. Dartmouth
21. Butler
22. Virginia
23. Duke
24. UC Irvine
25. Boston College 

Also receiving votes: Central Florida, Princeton, West Virginia, Wake Forest, Charlotte, San Diego, Monmouth, Loyola Marymount, Providence, Florida Gulf Coast, Old Dominion, UMBC, Tulsa, Georgetown


What did you think of the preseason poll? Is Louisville the early favorite for the national title? Which team was unfairly left off the list? How much stock do you put in this poll?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. The problem isn’t the existence of collegiate soccer, but the rules that it follows. To produce better professionals it needs to adopt more aspects of the professional game, such as 45 minute halves, a longer season, and a limit on in-game substitutions.

  2. At the age college players are, winning needs to be a part of their developement and reality. College coaches have no clue what they’re doing? Look up Klinsmann’s latest remarks on that one. The clock keeps diving and time wasting to a minimum. I know plenty of English fans that would like to see the clock stop in the premier league for that very reason. Sub rule could theorhetically help the development of more players, but the fact is that most of the top schools dont take advantage of the sub rule. They end up only making around 3 subs anyway.

  3. Many players would chose college rather than gamble on making it as a professional soccer player. Those that don’t chose college can try to get on MLS academy and reserve teams if they are good enough.

    I think what keeps college soccer from being better is partly selection of players based mostly on athleticism, partly on the physical defensive strategy a lot of college coaches employ, partly on NCAA restrictions on off season training (I don’t know the exact numbers, but it is way less than most of those players did on their club teams before college) and partly a result of college selection being based on academics as well as soccer talent.

  4. Western Michigan University in the same conference as Akron and with games against other top 25 teams Michigan and Michigan State will crack the top 25 before the season is over (but still never beat Akron)!!

  5. I completely agree. I do not understand the venom for college/university soccer. I was not born in the states, but I have lived here (on & off) for 20 years since moving as a teenager due to my father job transferring him. As a result of that & routinely returning Europe, I have a slightly different perspective.

    College Soccer is a great alternative that I wished existed in the U.K., France & Belgium. The issue is the development of players BEFORE they reach university level. If you have professional quality players at 18-22, the level of play would be higher in the NCAA. This is now being addressed by the growth of academies that expose (1) players to elite level coaching and (2) reduce or eliminate the financial barriers for poorer kids who may not be better athletes, but (like the rest of the world) work harder and take more risk in pursuing a sport because the view as a real alternative to whatever else they could be doing.

    I remember reading a while ago that only 1/10 or 1/100 (forget which) academy players become professional footballers in England (that’s professional footballers …so those playing in league 2 not just the Premiership or even championship where they players still get a very significant wage packet). Why not give those who are trained, but not premiership/championship caliber the ability to use their skills to obtain an excellent education that they may not be able to afford while still doing something they enjoy?

    Has college baseball hurt MLB? 70 years ago, you went to minors. A university baseball player was rare (Gehrig & Jackie Robinson rare exceptions). Now a much greater number come through the system. As always, in development, it’s the (1) coaching (2) repetition & (3) level of competition.

  6. No, because Porter is exactly where he should be right now, running the Akron program for the next decade while assisting with our youth national team (which can’t hurt in terms of recruiting, as if Akron’s dominance isn’t enough).

  7. College soccer is retarded, its not that college soccer is itself its that the stupid ncaa rules make it that way. its totally stupid bc the ncaa is totally stupid. getting an education and stuff have nothing to do with making us a better country at soccer. college soccer overall level of play sucks bc u still have soo many coaches that have little to know clue what they are doing and care more about wins then playing the game the right way. the sub rule and the clock all suck. but the ncaa sucks the hardest

    but u do get way more chicks than a normal college kid

  8. You should tell that to Clint Dempsey, Maurice Edu, Carlos Bocanegra, Cherundolo, Goodson, Guzan, Onyewu, Demerit, Bedoya, Davies, Feilhaber, Holden and many others who have played for the USMNT you need to get a life.

  9. “What is wrong with lesser known schools like Akron taking some of the glory?”

    Nothing at all (I’m a huge fan of March Madness upsets and all that); but it is a shame that Big 12 and SEC schools with deeper pockets and more recognizable brands are forced to make decisions like football or men’s soccer, while funding obscure women’s sports just to make the arcane Title IX math work.

    I think there’s enough talented players to where dilution wouldn’t be an issue; I’d just like to see more of the schools with the resources and recruiting reach to really promote college soccer be allowed to field teams.

  10. Charlotte lost their Top scorer from last season but he was the only senior on the team… expect another stellar year in the A10 from the 49ers who return 10 starters to a squad that went 13-5-1 (8-1-0 in A10 play) last season… and they got hosed without an at-large bid after losing on PKs in the tourney…

  11. Yeah man, college soccer sucks! Let’s worry about the 1% of people who are ‘wasting time’ in college soccer who would benefit by being in an academy and not the 99% of people who either a) benefit tremendously by getting a education for free at some really good colleges and b)don’t forgo a), fail miserably, have no education, and have little to do in life. It’s like in the NBA how everybody focuses on the Lebrons and Kobe’s and Dwight Howard’s who have succeeded in making the high school to pro jump, not the Ndudi Ebi’s and Jonathan Bender’s(and that’s not even counting the people who put their name in the draft and didn’t even get drafted. Here’s the deal-if you’re good enough right away, don’t go to college if you feel comfortable taking that risk-the rest can go do college, and like Carlos Bocanegra, turn into very good players starting in top 5 European leagues. And at any point during college, you can leave, just like players in other sports do, BUT, as witnessed by NBA/NFL players going back to school during the lockout, if they ever want to go back, it’s infinitely easier to finish your degree as a former student who went pro and had to leave early(you can keep your scholarship a lot of the time) than having to try and enroll as a first timer at age 25. When one considers the fact that soccer helped a ton of these people get into UCLA, UVA, ivy league schools, all great colleges, that they might not get into later @ age 25 as a failed soccer player, its a good bargain.

  12. I’m shocked to see Michigan at 9, after losing Meram and Saad. I hope my Wolverines can continue to play at a high level, but I just don’t see it.

  13. Guys that hate college soccer:

    Soccer is a sport that is very technical and takes many hours to learn, so we need academies to accomplish that.

    But no one could ever be great at age 22, when they are not great at age 18.

    Yeah, drop the bias, hoping and praying college soccer won’t work and embrace the fact that college soccer has many thousands of kids still playing soccer, who would have quit playing at age 18 otherwise.

    That is a great thing. Some of those college guys have done pretty well in MLS, even in year 1, after getting all that terrible college coaching.

    College soccer will be huge, you might as well start crying now.

  14. I think it’s the opposite. Title IX has kept the number of mens college soccer programs at the same level. So as the sport is becoming more popular, and former MLS players go into coaching, the college game is getting much better in both play and coaching. Otherwise it would have become diluted rather than better. What is wrong with lesser known schools like Akron taking some of the glory?

  15. Truthiness, I shouldnt have added the basketball/football line because it implies that I think it has to do with athletic ability. I dont think it does as judged by one look at Messi. So I dont buy the “our best athletes go into soccer” argument either. I think it all comes down to culture. Our culture isnt steeped in soccer. The closest we come is Basketball or football, perhaps baseball. However, even in those sports we dont approach them the way the Europeans do by training young kids to pros, putting them in a professional environment. I see the same with the way they approach tennis with young kids.

  16. Guy
    Which college team cut you after your tryout? Was it the coaches fault? Did he not recognize your genius?

    Why does college soccer need to be swept into the dustbin of history?
    The great thing about our system is no American soccer player is being forced to go to college. They can go straight to the pros if they are ready. Why can’t it be the right choice for some and not for others?

  17. Sorry, i’m gonna favor going to Uconn games where they sell out the stadium and put out some very decent soccer, to traveling 2hrs to see a game played by, yes better players but on a plastic pitch with 50k empty seats.

    Maybe there aren’t any colleges around you that give a crap about their program. The schools that scout not just in the US but all over, and aren’t afraid to play against quality opposition makes for good soccer.

    Don’t care for the different set of rules but nothing is perfect.

  18. Absolutely; Title IX not having some type of football exemption (by far the most expensive sport and has no female equivalent) has done more damage to college soccer than anything else.

  19. It would be amazing if Akron could win again, having lost 7 players to the MLS draft. They did add Wil Trapp and others though, so it’s possible.

  20. +1000…. this! Title ix prevents the best conference (sec) in the country from having mens soccer, wrestling, and mens gymnastics, among other sports!

  21. Really, your neighborhood Mexican guys are better than Caleb Porter’s Akron with Nagbe, Kitchen, Valentin, etc.?

    Why don’t THEY regularly start for MLS teams, then?

  22. The college game is closer to AYSO than any FIFA approved league. Let’s face it, if you are 18 years old and not playing professional soccer somewhere – you probably suck (like most college players). This is NOT baseball where some 28 year old comes out of the minor leagues and is called a “rookie”. Regardless, the college game will turn into an intramural sport soon enough – people have finally recognized college soccer needs to be swept into the dustbin of history.

  23. “Is it the right path for someone like a Messi, no, but the US will never produce such a player anyway. At least not until soccer becomes as popular as basketball or football.”

    This is a complete non-sequiter. Look at a picture of Messi. Look at a picture of your average NFL or NBA player. Then look back at the picture of Messi. See any difference? We need to lose this LAME excuse.

  24. Generation Addidas does incentavize the pro route. But you only want to do this with the best prospects, the way Gen Adidas does, not with all pro prospects because most will never make it. College is the best thing for most of them. God forbid we ever get like Europe and start getting the hopes up of kids in diapers by allowing pro clubs to sign them.

  25. Don’t understand this at all. Hate our reliance on it for professional development, sure, but that’s not why it exists.

  26. I think college soccer is the best thing about soccer in the US. Is it the right path for someone like a Messi, no, but the US will never produce such a player anyway. At least not until soccer becomes as popular as basketball or football. Now that we have MLS academies and US Dev. Academies, having the college alternative is a strength, not a weakness. Bashing college soccer has to be the stupidest thing the soccer fans in the US do. Look at the Gen Adidas signings, history shows the ones who have at least some college have more successful pro careers.

  27. Does college soccer still run the scoreboard down from 45 like little league soccer? That’s one thing they could easily fix to give it more credibility. I love college soccer, but it needs some serious work. The lack of Big 12 and SEC football schools in soccer is a big reason why the beat athletes in the US choose to play other sports. It’s time for an amendment to Title IX…

  28. Congrats, you must have gone straight to the pros!! Good for you, every day I wake up and ask myself why I went through the preseason motions, sweat and bled for my University. Traveling with my gear and a giant bag of books and notes. I earned a diploma,stayed in great shape and lets not forget the many cool, soccer loving college girls.

    But yeah, F##k College soccer!On a side note, IMO The best thing for our National team is the MLS acadamies, not College soccer.

  29. College soccer is not the problem with US soccer development, the US is way to big for MLS to scout all the talent and college is great for late bloomers in the soccer world.. I think just focusing on academies for MLS teams will vastly improve talent in the US! Instead of wanting to scrap the college system why don’t we just focus on improving it and focus on incentivizing the pro route over the college route.

  30. hahahahaha wait so youre saying a bunch of Mexicans could tie or beat Real Madrid reserves? I dont think so. Akron would destroy any amatuer team

  31. Explain, please. Do you think if college and university soccer ceased to exist viable professional leagues would develop to absorb the talent currently playing there? It seems that college and university soccer can exist as a place for development that does not solely or even partly need a fan base for its existence – other fees cover operating costs. This isn’t snarky, this is just curiosity.

  32. college soccer has a lot of problems; but addressing the way they recruit and train is more productive than just scrapping it all together. There are too many ppl in the country for mls and mexican academies to find all the pro prospects.

  33. +1 – College soccer is the biggest problem with US Soccer. Heck, I can see superior soccer by going down to the local park and see a pick up game of Mexican guys on their lunch break.

  34. San Diego State will surprise people this year and should be good. Only question is the new goalie and he was a top 100 player in the nation when he came out.


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