The Mountaineers kicked off their playing schedule after a lengthy pre-season with their annual trip to Kansas City to visit the U.S. Soccer National Training Center. The team also attended a Sporting KC game. The Mountaineers concluded the trip with their first match against outside competition, an exhibition vs Johnson County CC.
"We are cautiously optimistic about this team," said head coach Jon Evan. "We return a good group of sophomores plus the addition of 2 sophomore transfers, to give us some experience and depth. This group is talented and versatile for sure, however, our success will depend on the discipline, work ethic and leadership that this team develops."
Evan commented on several areas of the Mountaineer team:
Goalkeepers: "I'm pleased thus far with the development of Will Wicks and Carlos Roberto Dias Neto in goal. They have created a healthy competition that will benefit them both as well as our team."
Defense: "Our back line is anchored by sophomore Dani Huerta, while there will be a good competition for minutes among freshmen Leonardo Zabeu Lopes, Ricardo Mercado, Florian Ouaddour, Adrian Lopez and Grady Verner."
Midfield: "Alpha Diallo, Leonardo Schulz and Jose Maria Ruarte return to lead us in the midfield along with sophomore transfers Alex Barbotteau and Lucas Teixeira. Freshmen Anthony Boateng, Nic Menanza, and Xavi Grainger will battle for time as new players who are learning our system. We definitely like the quality and depth we have in the midfield."
Forwards: "Brandon Molina and Wassim Debbouze have returned and worked hard for us thus far while fighting for time up front. We expect freshmen Tyler Broughton to push for time in an attacking role for us as well.."
Staff: "We've recently added Shay Hoog to our staff as a student assistant. Shay is an Eastern soccer alum who spent time at Eastern the year before we arrived. He comes highly recommended from a good friend of our program, Roy Stanley, at CSU Pueblo, where Shay played after Eastern. It's always good to have former players come back to coach and in Shay's case we just happen to have two classes he needs to finish his B.S. from Pueblo, so we are really excited for him. Of course, we are grateful to have David Charles back for a third season. DC will be completing a dual associates this year in General Studies and P.E. Coaching. We are fortunate to have him back as he continues on his path towards becoming a certified strength & conditioning coach. DC has taken over our strength and conditioning, pre-game and in-game warm-ups, and post-game cool downs."
The Mountaineers will open the season on the road against Paris Junior College Thursday, Aug. 22 at 4 p.m.