George Kiefer enters his 12th year at the helm of the USF men’s soccer team, which returns six starters from 2012, but several newcomers will need to step up if the Bulls hope to make noise in the NCAA postseason.
The Bulls started the 2012 season ranked in the top five, but struggled offensively and slowly dropped in the national rankings.
Not all hope was lost though, as the Bulls still made the NCAA tournament but were unable to advance past the opening
The loss of Dom Dwyer to Major League Soccer prior to the 2012 season proved to be a crucial one, as Dwyer was responsible for 16 of the Bulls’ 36 goals in 2011 and led the team to the Elite Eight.
Without Dwyer, the Bulls lacked an offensive punch and dropped to 22 goals in 2012.
For USF, the journey back to the Elite Eight relies upon an improved offensive attack.
One key addition, who has already made his presence felt this year in Saturday’s exhibition against the University of Tampa, was redshirt junior forward Edwin Moalosi.
Moalosi only played two games in 2012 due to a broken tibia, and had no prior experience with the Bulls after transferring from Lincoln Junior College in Illinois, where he scored 21 goals in 2011.
Moalosi could have provided the Bulls with some much
needed offensive help last season if he were healthy, but his chance to spearhead the USF attack has arrived, along with other key
Perhaps the most highly touted addition to the Bulls’ roster is freshman midfielder Lindo Mfeka.
The native of South Africa was the No. 8 rated player in the 2013 high school class by College Soccer News and the No. 3 rated player by TopDrawerSoccer.com. He was almost signed by FC Barcelona’s youth development program in 2007.
Junior Wesley Charpie, who was named one of the nation’s top 25 midfielders and the 87th best
college player by TopDrawerSoccer.com, joins Mfeka at midfield.
The combination of Mfeka and Charpie setting up attack
opportunities for Moalosi and junior
forward Kennedy Selorm Adablah gives the Bulls a chance to bring back the noted firepower of 2011.
Adablah transferred from the University of Ghana in western Africa, where he lead his team in scoring from 2010-12 and figures to be a formidable second option at forward next to Moalosi.
The Bulls’ most well-known
player is defender Ben Sweat.
The senior was named a top
10 defender and the 27th best collegiate player by TopDrawerSoccer.com after starting or playing in all but one USF game since joining the team in 2010.
Sweat is also a capable offensive threat, having scored two game-winning goals in 2012 and finished second on the team with five assists in 2011.
Joining Sweat in the backfield is junior Nikola Paunic who was a team captain for Toronto FC and his under 20 youth national team.
New starters Moalosi, Mfeka, Adablah and Paunic along with returning staples of the Bulls roster in Charpie and Sweat figure to give Kiefer a more dynamic and
dangerous offensive squad than the 2012 season.
To defeat elite competition such as No. 5-ranked Connecticut on Sept. 27 and return to the national rankings at season’s end, the
newcomers will have to more than fill the shoes of the six lost seniors from the 2012 season.