Top Assistant Coaches 2014

April 14, 2015 - Fifteen difference makers who are making an impact. College Soccer News annually seeks to recognize assistant coaches across the country who are excelling at their work. Our selections for 2014 include some who have been listed in the past as well as some not previously recognized. In making these selections we state up-front that we know some very deserving assistant coaches will be left out as is always the case when individuals are singled out for recognition. The current selections continue our trend in the past several seasons of placing additional weight on team success on the field of play in the selection criteria.

There are many very good assistant coaches in the collegiate ranks across the nation who have had and will continue to have a very positive impact on college soccer. The very best are effective teachers, communicators, motivators, and recruiters. They relate well to the players they coach while maintaining their respect. Successful head coaches will be the first to emphasize the role that their assistants play in the level of success that a program achieves. The very best assistance coaches are soccer and people savvy mentors who understand their role and are totally aligned with the direction of the head coach. 

Assistant coaches recognized in past years by College Soccer News who are now head coaches include Kevin Grimes at California, Cameron Rast at Santa Clara, Bill Irwin at Portland, Robert McCourt at Monmouth, Bobby Muus at Wake Forest, Mike Jacobs formerly at Evansville, Todd Yeagley at Indiana, Jesse Comier at Vermont, Kelly Findley at North Carolina State, Erik Ronning at Colgate, Brian Wiese at Georgetown, Darren Powell at Elon, Damon Rensing at Michigan State, Jamie Clark at Washington, Kevin Anderson at Columbia, Sean Phillips at UIC, Eric Pogue at Oakland, Ralph Polson at Wofford, Scott Calabrese at FIU, Brad Ruzzo at Mercer, Andy Fleming at Xavier, Carlos Somoano at North Carolina, Ryan Anatol at Stony Brook, Johan Cedergren at Kentucky, Jared Embick at Akron, Chris Volk at UC Irvine, Kylie Stannard at Yale and Mario Sanchez at SIUE. 

Anthony Adams - UMBC Adams has been recognized in the past on multiple occassions by College Soccer News for his efforts as a long time member of the UMBC coaching staff under the direction of head coach Pete Caringi, Jr.  The 2015 season will be Adams' 19th as a Retriever Assistant Coach and his fifth as the associate head coach.  He also has been a successful coach with the USSF Development Academy's Baltimore Bays and is now coaching with the Baltimore Celtic SC. UMBC had a banner season in 2014 in which they advanced to the College Cup for the first time in the history of the program. 
John Mark Andrade - Providence Andrade is among the reasons that great things are happening at Providence. He will enter is seventh season as an assistant coach at Providence and third as the associate head coach under head coach Craig Stewart. Prior to coming to Providence in 2009 he was the head coach at Dean College for a year. The Friars won their first ever Big East Championship in 2014, secured a program record sixteen wins, and played their way into the College Cup for the first time in the history of the program.  
Kris Bertsch - Louisville Bertsch joined the Louisville staff this year under head coach Ken Lolla after five very productive seasons as an assistant coach at Xavier under head coach Andy Fleming. During Bertsch's tenure at Xavier the Musketeers made four NCAA Tourney appearances and had five consecutive ten-plus win seasons. The Musketeers had a program record fifteen wins in 2014 and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in the history of the program. Before coming to Xavier Bertsch served as an assistant coach at Syracuse and was the director of soccer operations at Connecticut for four seasons.  
Stephen Bode - Marquette  Bode will begin his 8th season as an assistant coach at Marquette University in 2015 under head coach Louis Bennett. As a collegiate player Bode was a lock down defender at the Univeristy of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he displayed the work ethic, focus, and dedication as a player that he continues to display as a coach. He is a valuable member of the Marquette coaching staff who continues to grow as a coach. Bode has also been active in youth soccer. 
Nick Carlin-Voigt - UCLA Carlin-Voigt enters his fourth season as the top assistant coach at UCLA under head coach Jorge Salcedo. His success on the recruiting trail is reflected in the fact that the Bruins annually have one of the top ranked recruiting classes in the country. He is actively involved in all aspects of the program including player development, training, conditioning, scouting, and recruiting. Before coming to Westwood, Carlin-Voigt was the top assistant coach at George Mason. He was an NSCAA All-American as a player at Kalamazoo. UCLA advanced to the Final Four in 2014 for the 14th time in the storied history of the program and advanced to their 9th College Cup final.    
Matt Chulis - Virginia   Chulis knows what it takes to compete and win at the highest level.  He will enter his tenth season as an asssitant coach at Virginia in 2015 including his fifth as the associate head coach under head coach George Gelnovatch. Chulis was a three-time All-American as a player at Virginia and has been a part of nine NCAA Tourney teams while a member of the coaching staff including trips to the College Cup in 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2014 and National Championship teams in 2009 and 2014.
B.J. Craig - Notre Dame Craig is among the reasons that good things coninue to happen at Notre Dame. He will enter his eighth season on the Notre Dame staff in 2015 under Bobby Clark. He was named the associate head coach in 2013.  Prior to coming to Notre Dame he served as an assistant coach at Louisville for one season, he was the head coach at Saint Francis for four years, and served as an assistant coach at Dartmouth for six seasons. During his tenure to date at Notre Dame the Irish are 88-36-25 overall. The Irish have been a top-three seed in the NCAA Tournament for the past three seasons and won the National Championship in 2013.   
Brian Gill - Georgetown Gill will enter his sixth season as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Georgetown under head coach Brian Wiese. Credit Gill for playing a role in the emergence of the Georgetown program as a power on the national scene and for being a part of what many consider a coaching staff that is among the best in the country. It all began with the 2012 season during which the Hoyas advanced to the national championship game and secured a program best 19 wins. In 2014 Georgetown advanced to the Elite Eight and finished the year with a 14-4-5 record. 
Ian Gordona - Ohio State Gordona has an eye for talent and is a player's coach. He joined the Ohio State coaching staff in 2014 under head coach John Bluem and helpled the Buckeyes earn an at-large berth in the NCAA Tourney. Prior to that he was an assistant coach at Michigan for two seasons and had a four year tenure as a recruiting liaison and academy coach with the MLS's Columbia Crew Youth Development Program. He also honed his coaching skills after graduating from Ohio State as an assistant coach at Manchester Community College for five seasons. Gordona also servers as a scout for the U.S. National Team.  
Philip Jones - Clemson  Jones begins his fifth season as an assistant coach at Clemson in 2015 and his fourth as the associate head coach under head coach Mike Noonan. Prior to that he was an assistant coach at Brown under Noonan.  As a collegiate player Jones was a four-time All-Florida Sun Conference selection at Embry-Riddle. Jones is a part of a Clemson program for which the trend lines continues upward. In 2014 the Tigers won the ACC Championship for the first time since the 2001 season and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tourney for the first time since 2006.  
Brian Maisonneuve - Indiana  Maisonneuve was a winner as a player and now as a coach at Indiana. He will enter his sixth season as an assistant coach at Indiana and third as as the associate head coach in 2015 under head coach Todd Yeagley. Prior to that he was an assistant coach at Louisville for two seasons and served as an assistant coach for the U.S. U-20 National Team for four years. Maisonneuve knows the game. He is a former All-American and Hermann Trophy winner as a player at Indiana. 
Hugh MacDonald - Monmouth  Head coach Robert McCourt would be the first to point out the value that MacDonald brings to the program at Monmouth. MacDonald, who had a stellar career as a defender at Monmouth, will begin his ninth season as an assistant coach and second as the associate head coach under McCourt's direction in 2015. He is actively involved in all aspects of the program including practice and conditioning, recruiting, game operations and community service projects. 
Jeff Rowland - Washington  Rowland is among the reasons why Washington is now a legitimate contender for the Pac-12 title and a force on the national scene. He will enter his fifth season as an assistant coach at Washington under head coach Jamie Clark. Washington has earned a berth in the NCAA Tourney for three out of the past four seasons including a number two seed  in the NCAA Tourney in 2013 and a number fourteen seed in 2014. During the four seasons Rowland has been on the coaching staff at Washington the Huskies have gone 63-16-12 overall. Rowland was an All-American as a player at New Mexico. 
John Smith - Stanford  Smith enters his fourth season as an assistant coach and second as associate head coach under head coach Jeremy Gunn at Stanford. Prior to coming to Stanford he was the head coach at then Division II Incarnate Word for six seasons. Smith was a two-time All-American as a collegiate player at Rollins College where he netted fifty carrear goals and fifty carrear assists. Smith has been part of the recent resurgance at Stanford that included a return to the NCAA Tourney field in 2013 for the first time since 2009 and the program's first Pac-12 Championship in 2014 since 2001.    
Johnny Torres - Creighton  Torres has been associated with Creighton soccer and the success the program has enjoyed for a long time. He will begin his ninth season as an assistant coach at Creighton in 2015 where he serves as a key member of head coach Elmar Bolowich's staff. The former two-time National Player of the Year at Creighton helped the Jays go 16-3-3 last year and claim their first Big East regular season title with a 7-1-1 mark in league play. Creighton finished the 2014 season ranked as the numer five team in the College Soccer News season ending poll.    


2014 Was A Season To Remember At These Schools

College Soccer News annually likes to acknowledge those programs that had special seasons.  The 2014 season was a shining season for the schools identified.  It may be that they greatly exceeded expectations, or won more games than ever before, or accomplished something that will be a springboard for future seasons, or put together an improbable run.  Regardless of the reason,  it was a season that will be remembered, that will always bring a sense of pride and accomplishment to those involved, and that will have a positive impact on the program for years to come. 

Virginia - National Champions!  That says it all.  No one had a more successful season in 2015 than the Cavaliers under the direction of George Gelnovatch.  In fact, Virginia is the only school in the country to play on college soccer's biggest stage in both 2013 and 2014.  The Cavaliers earned their thirty-fourth consecutive invite to the NCAA Tournament in 2014 and earned the number sixteen seed.  They began the tourney with a good win at home against a talented UNCW team but with a match-up on the road with number one seeded Notre Dame next on their dance card it seemed likely that their stay in the tourney would be a short one.  However, a very talented, well disciplined and organized Cavalier squad defied the odds by upsetting the Irish and then number eight seeded Georgetown on the road to advance to the College Cup where they then topped UMBC and number two seeded UCLA to win the programs' seventh national championship and their second under the leadership of Gelnovatch.

UCLA - Success at UCLA is measured in large part by how far the Bruins advance in the NCAA Tournament.  Consider 2014 as a highly successful season for the Bruins who made their thirty-second  consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament, advanced to the College Cup for the fourteenth time and advanced to the National Final for the ninth time.  UCLA was awarded the number two seed in the NCAA Tournament and topped San Diego, California, North Carolina, and Providence before falling in penalty kicks to the University of Virginia in the national championship match.  Leo Stolz elected to return for his senior season instead of turning pro and became the third Bruin to be named the National Player of the Year.  Sophomore midfielder Michael Amick joined Stolz as an NCAA and College Soccer News All-America selection.  The future continues to look bright in Westwood as Abu Danladi, Seyi Adekoya, and Chase Gasper were named All-Freshman Team selections by College Soccer News. 

Providence - The 2014 season was a year of firsts for the Friars.  As a result the bar of excellence was forever raised at Providence.  The Friars won the Big East Tournament for the first time in the history of the program.  They were awarded the number eleven seed in the NCAA Tournament and thus received their first ever first round bye in the NCAA  Tournament.  The Friars topped Dartmouth, UC Irvine and Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament to advance to the College Cup for the first time.    Their sixteen win season was a program record.  Historical is perhaps the one word that best describes Providence's 2014 season.  It was a great to be a Friar in 2014. 

UMBC - The Retrievers followed up a banner 2013 season with what was without a doubt the best season in the history of the program in 2014.  Under the direction of Pete Caringi the Retrievers won the America East Conference Championship in 2014 for the third consecutive season.  They earned their fourth invite to the NCAA Tournament in the past five seasons and made an improbable run in the NCAA Tournament that included wins on the road against Wake Forest, Maryland, Louisville, and Creighton to advance to the College Cup for the first time in the history of the program.  A senior driven UMBC squad  finished the 2014 season with a 14-5-5 overall record.  Oumar Ballo was named the America East Defensive Player of the Year and was a consensus All-America Team selection.  Mamadou Kansaye was named the America East Midfielder of the Year and Kay Banjo was named the American East  Striker of the Year.  Caringi was named the National Coach of the Year by the NSCAA.  The Retrievers established once again in 2014 that they can hold their own with anyone in the country. 

Xavier - Really good things continue to happen at Xavier.  In 2014 the Musketeers earned their fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament in the past five years.  It was a without a doubt a season to remember that was capped off by the deepest run to date in the NCAA Tournament in the history of the program.  The Musketeers topped Monmouth and number five seeded Indiana in Bloomington to advance to the Sweet Sixteen where their  season came to a close after a 2-1 loss to Creighton in Omaha.  Xavier established a new  program high with a fifteen win season and set a program record with eleven shutouts.  They finished the 2014 season ranked as the number eleven team in the country by College Soccer News and the number thirteen team in the nation in the NSCAA poll to take the program to new heights on the national scene.  Head coach Andy Fleming and his staff were honored as the Co-Big East Coaching Staff of the Year and Eric Osswald was named the Big East Goalkeeper of the Year.   Xavier's 2014 senior class of Matt Hill, Garrett Halfhill, Owen Steinwall, Will Walker and Eric Osswald finished their tenure at Xavier as the winningest class in the history of the program with a 51-23-13 record.  This is a program with momentum. 

Oakland -  The Golden Grizzlies showed a ton of resilience and talent when after beginning the season with five consecutive losses they rebounded to win the program's first ever regular season title and the  program's first ever Horizon League Championship to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010. During regular season play the Golden Grizzlies recorded a 2-0 signature win over nationally ranked Michigan State.  They secured a big win when they defeated Kentucky 2-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament  and gave number three seeded  Michigan State everything they could handle in the second round before losing 1-0.  Senior forward Joey Tinnon, junior midfielder Matt Dudley, and junior forward Shawn Claud Lawson were named All-Horizon First Team selections and goalkeeper Wes Mink was a College Soccer News All-Freshman Team selection.  It was a winning season that should set the stage for even more success in the future.  No one reflected the heart of a champion more than Oakland in 2014.  

Syracuse - The trend line continues upward at Syracuse under the guidance of head coach Ian McIntyre and his staff but the 2014 team will always hold a special place and be remembered for its role in taking the program to a higher level.  The Orange had a great season that included sixteen wins, the second most in the history of the program.  Syracuse earned the number nine seed in the NCAA Tournament to secure the program's first ever seed in the NCAA Tournament.  The Orange had a high national ranking for a large part of the season and was ranked as the number one team in the nation for two weeks in the NSCAA poll for the first time in the history of the program.  Syracuse finished the 2014 season as the number ten team in the country in both the NSCAA and College Soccer News National polls.  McIntyre was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year.  Goalkeeper Alex Bono, who anchored a Syracuse defense that allowed a total of only twelve goals all season, was a consensus First Team All-American and was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year.   The 2014 season was another giant step forward for a program that already has a ton of momentum.   The Orange are for real.

UNCW - What a season.  Few teams in the country exceeded expectations in 2014 more than the Seahawks.  The Seahawks  displayed a lot of grit in 2014 and established that they could hold their own with anyone as reflected in the fact that they were 7-1-1 on the road and were 4-2 against nationally ranked opponents.  UNCW also had a huge 4-3 signature win at home over  North Carolina before a record crowd of 2,213 fans.  Under the direction of Aidan Heaney the Seahawks secured a share of the CAA regular season title and earned an at-large berth in the NCAA  Tournament.  UNCW hosted their first ever NCAA Tournament game in which they topped Bucknell 2-0 before a crowd of over 2,000 Seahawk faithful to advance to the second round for just the second time in the history of the program.  Heaney was named the CAA Coach of the Year and senior Jacob VanCompernolle was named the CAA Defensive Player of the Year.  Senior midfielder Jamie Dell had a banner season in which he was named an All-American by the NSCAA and College Soccer News.  The Seahawks truly soared in 2014.    

UNLV - It was a breakthrough season for the Rebels who had a fifteen win season.  Under the direction of head coach Rich Ryerson UNLV won both the WAC regular season and tournament championship to secure their first conference championship since the 1987 season and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1988. Ryerson was named the WAC Coach of the Year.  Senior Salvador Bernal became the first player in UNLV history to be named First Team All-Conference for four seasons.  He was named the WAC Offensive Player of the Year and was named an All-American by NSCAA and College Soccer News to become the first UNLV player to be named an All-American in twenty-four years.  Senior Kyle Melies was named the WAC Defensive Player of the Year.

Clemson - Good things have been happening at Clemson for several years but the 2014 season will be remembered  as the season in which Clemson fully turned the corner and returned to prominence on the national scene.   The Tigers advanced past Wake Forest and Notre Dame in penalty kicks and topped Louisville 2-1 in overtime to win the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament for the first time since the 2001 season.  They were awarded the number seven in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.   The Tigers finished a very productive 2014 season ranked by the NSCAA as the number eleven team in the nation and ranked by College Soccer News as the number twelve team in the country.   The Tigers roared in 2014. 

Oregon State - The Beavers had what is arguably the best ever season in the history of the program in 2014.  They returned to the NCAA Tournament field for the first time since the 2003 season and broke a barrier when they topped Denver 1-0 to secure the program's first ever win in post season play.  The Beavers had signature regular season wins over California and Washington.  Khiry Shelton netted ten goals and contributed twelve assists in route to being named the Pac-12 Player of the Year.  Shelton was named a First Team All-American by College Soccer News and was a Second Team All-America selection by the NSCAA.  Timmy Mueller who scored eleven goals and added two helpers was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.    

Cal State Fullerton - For all intents and purposes the 2014 season was supposed to be a transition season for the Titans who were under new management and were picked to finish last in the South Division in the 2014 Big West Conference preseason poll.  However that didn't turn out to be the case as George Kuntz, who had been the head coach at UC Irvine for nineteen seasons, assumed the leadership of the Cal State Fullerton program and directed the Titans to a 10-8-6 overall record, the program's first winning season since 2001, and their first ever Big West Conference Tournament championship via a tenacious run that included wins on the road over UC Davis, UC Riverside, and UC Irvine to earn the programs first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2000.  This is a team that may have improved as much from beginning to end as any team in the country and showed a will to win that bodes well for continued success in the future.  After beginning the season with three straight losses the Titans rebounded to upset highly regarded UMBC to get back on track.  Likewise after losing their first two conference matches they rebounded to secure wins over UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly. The 2014 campaign will be remembered as the season that rekindled a winning mindset at Cal State Fullerton. 

Rhode Island  -  The Rams lost a heartbreaker to Fordham in the 2014 Atlantic 10 Championship and didn't get an invite to the NCAA Tournament but that takes nothing away from the fact that they had an outstanding turnaround season that clearly will be a springboard for the future.  Rhode Island was 2-14-0 overall in 2013 with an 0-8-0 mark in conference play.  They entered the 2014 campaign picked to finish in the number twelve spot in the thirteen team Atlantic 10.  Instead they won the Atlantic 10 regular season title with a 7-1-0 mark in conference play and ended the season with a 13-5-3 overall record.  Second year head coach Gareth Elliott was named the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year following in the footsteps of Ed Bradley who won the award in 1995 and 2001.  Freshman goalkeeper Nils Leifhelm was honored as the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year and was named a First Team All-Freshman Team selection by College Soccer News.  Senior midfielder Matt Sykes (7g, 6a) was also an All-Atlantic 10 First Team selection.  The Rams also returned to the national rankings and posted their first double-digit win total since the 2006 season.  

Stanford - Stanford's season came to an unexpected end in the NCAA Tournament when they were upset 1-0 in overtime at home for the first time in the 2014 season by an opportunistic UC Irvine team.  Regardless of the earlier than expected exit, things are clearly looking bright at The Farm and the 2014 season was another resounding step forward.  In his first year at the helm of the program in 2013 Jeremy Gunn directed the Cardinal to a ten win season and returned the program to the NCAA Tourney for the first time since 2002 and they advanced to the Round of Sixteen.  The trend line continued upward in 2014 with a 13-3-3 overall record which is the most wins since the 2002 campaign.  Stanford also won the program's first Pac-12 championship since the 2001 season. The Cardinal received the number six seed in the NCAA Tournament and was ranked as high as number one by both the NSCAA and College Soccer News National Polls. Gunn was named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year and the Far West Region Coach of the Year by the NSCAA.  Sophomore Jordan Morris was named an NSCAA and College Soccer News All-American.  Junior defender Brandon Vincent was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and an NSCAA All-American.   

Mercer - Count Mercer among the schools that had a special season in 2014. The Bears had a stellar fourteen win campaign with an 8-2-0 mark in their first season as a member of the Southern Conference.  The fourteen wins set a new program record for most wins in a single season.  The Bears also won the regular season Southern Conference title.  Brad Ruzzo was named the Southern Conference Coach of the Year and senior Greg Ranjitsingi was named the Southern Conference Goalkeeper of the Year while forward Will Bagrou was named the Southern Conference Freshman of the Year and was a College Soccer News All-Freshman selection.   

College Player Profile - Casey Osborne - by Ben Roth

The recent 2015 MLS Superdraft provided the opportunity for some of the top talent in the nation to have the opportunity to succeed in the MLS. For many this opportunity is a dream come true.  With that said every year some very talented players slip through the cracks perhaps exposing the lack of scouting of some MLS clubs. However, regardless of the amount of research conducted prior to the draft, history has established that in all sports some very capable players are often overlooked. There are plenty of examples of talented college soccer players such as Jonathan Bornstein and Omar Cummings that were not selected in the first two rounds of the MLS draft yet still had successful professional careers.

The next hopeful on that list of players could be Casey Osborne, a center back from St. John’s University and our latest College Soccer News Player Profile. For many student-athletes the most bittersweet moment as a college player is their team’s senior night, the final amateur sporting event of their career.  The game is supposed to be a celebration of sorts, honoring each team’s graduating seniors, but for some it’s the last competitive game they’ll ever play. For St. John’s University center back Casey Osborne like some other college seniors, that game likely signified among other things the opportuity to transition to bigger things. 

While in the locker room as St. John's prepared for its final Big East game of the 2014 season which was against Seton Hall, there was a feeling of anxiety among the squad, especially the seniors. Scanning the locker room prior to the game, everyone was doing their own pregame ritual, with one consistent theme; senior Casey Osborne was smiling, and getting the whole team ready for their last test of the year. A natural leader, Osborne, is a vocal player on and off the pitch.

When asked to describe himself in one word as a person off the field, the first thing to come to mind for the NSCAA 2012 Junior College National Player of the Year, was, “goofy”.  Osborne, while a character off the pitch is anything but that once he steps on the field. “Nobody outworks him” was a frequent response from his fellow St. John’s teammates regarding Osborne’s on field work ethic.  The hard work paid off as Osborne formed arguably one of the best defensive duos in college soccer alongside roommate and recent MLS draftee Tim Parker. That partnership has been the keystone to the St. John’s team over the past two seasons.

Like every success story, there were set backs along the way.  For Osborne this moment came his junior year at St. John’s in a game against Villanova.  The aggressive defender tore his ACL, a setback that would have caused many to sit back and sulk.  But that was not the case with the optimistic Osborne took the injury as an opportunity to learn from the game and come back even stronger.  Osborne stated, “It’s painful to relive the injury, but it helped me mature as a player.” Without a doubt, the injury had an affect on the team, but they rallied behind their leader, competing how they knew Osborne would.

The rest of his junior year, Osborne was the team’s biggest cheerleader, urging the team onto their third consecutive NCAA tournament bid. While sidelined, “Big Cat” as his teammates call him, took advantage of the opportunity to expand his knowledge of the game.  The best way to do that is as Osborne reiterated, “learning from the best… I took every moment I could analyzing the game and listening to Coach Masur.”

The 2012 Junior College First Team All-American at Tyler Junior College applied the knowledge he gained to the field for his senior year at St. John's and it showed. Osborne returned healthy playing the second most minutes out of all the field players on the team, while enjoying his game.  He was adamant claiming, “I’ve always said the day I stop loving the game, is the day I stop playing.”  This joy along with his competitive drive led to Osborne playing his best ball as the season progressed. 

One of the team’s biggest tests of the year came playing against perennial powerhouse, UCONN Huskies.  St. John's entered that contest without First Team All Big East selection, Tim Parker, and Osborne knew he had to step up.  What made this task even more daunting was the fact that UCONN had arguably the best forward in the country in Cyle Larin, the number one pick in this year’s MLS Superdraft. Knowing Larin would be difficult to contain, Osborne took it upon himself to do just that. The game showcased Osborne’s best skills as he shut down the Canadian national teamer, not allowing him one good chance at goal.  The most impressive part was that at times Larin couldn’t even get a touch on the ball. Osborne was reading the game; intercepting clear-cut chances and winning nearly every header, one of his best attributes.  St. John’s went on to win the game, led by Osborne’s defensive performance.  Results like that indicate that Osborne has what it takes to play at the next level.  

Sitting down with “Big Cat” is a surreal experience since you expect a player with all emotion and energy that he displays on the field to be a loud fiery guy figure, but he’s anything but that.  ‘Humble’ is the only word to describe the small town kid from Georgia. Osborne is the type of player who appreciates the opportuities he has had to play the game and gives credit where credit is due to those who have helped him along the way. He stated, “Starting off playing at Tyler Junior College instilled a great work ethic in myself. Every practice, every game was a chance to beat someone out. I looked forward to it”  This is part of the reason whyTyler JC won a national championship with Osborne, before the center back made the move to St. John’s University. 

Watching St. John’s warm up prior to their senior night game doing a crossing and finishing drill, there was one odd occurrence, Osborne scored the most goals for the team.  When asked how he got this knack for scoring goals, he smiled and said, “I used to play forward a bit at Tyler. It helped a lot with my footwork and understanding how to get away from defenders.  Now on the other side playing defense, I can read the forwards and their movements better”.  

Despite playing defense during the rest of his career Osborne scored a couple important goals for the Johnnies in the past two seasons and credits his short stint at forward as the reason why. With the 2014 college season now over and the MLS season coming quickly, Osborne is looking to make a team’s roster and prove his worth.  “I feel like I deserve it; I have the hunger, I belong on your team.”  

For a league that puts much of their focus on athleticism and work rate, a team could do much worse than taking a risk on Osborne.  He’s a strong, athletic center back who’s absolutely dominant in the air, a trait many coaches look for. After talking to Osborne about his future, he said, “hopefully in 5 years I’m still playing, it would be a dream; I love the game and wouldn’t want to do anything else.”  

With the 2015 MLS Supplementary draft just around the corner its likely that Osborne will still be provided the opportunity for his dream to come true. 

Ben Roth is a contributing writer for College Soccer News.  He can be reached at ben.roth@This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.