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Griffin Dorsey gives men's soccer the chance to have a special season



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Freshman midfielder Griffin Dorsey looks on after kicking the ball against Notre Dame on Tuesday at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Dorsey has been an impressive part of IU's freshman class this season.  Bobby Goddin Buy Photos

The process of being called up to the United States Under-18 Youth National Team at the beginning of October was fairly simple for IU freshman winger Griffin Dorsey.

It began by contacting IU Coach Todd Yeagley. 

“They contact Yeagley first to make sure it’s OK for me to leave and take the time off,” Dorsey said. “From there, Yeagley talks to me about what I want to do and then we make a decision from there.”

Many of Dorsey’s teammates, along with Yeagley, were happy that he received the call-up.

“As tough as it is for him to leave, it’s the right thing to do for him and his development, and we’re going to keep him on that path,” Yeagley said.

After the trip, Dorsey said he did not have to readjust himself when it came to getting back on the field for IU.

One off-the-field adjustment, however, was getting his sleep schedule back on track with a six-hour time change and more than 12-hour trip to Europe with the youth national team.

He traveled to Marbella, Spain, to play for the United States in friendlies against Belgium and Russia. He was in the starting lineup against Belgium.

Just hours after he returned, Dorsey played in IU’s match against Kentucky on Oct. 11. He said the crowd got him going, along with a bit of adrenaline.

While with the U-18 team, Dorsey got the chance to play with players from outside of the college game. 

“It’s all European,” Dorsey said. “At the U.S. team we have probably 10, 15 kids playing professionally already in Germany and MLS. It’s a very professional style, and it’s a challenge for sure. Belgium, they have a bunch of players in the Bundesliga and in the Belgium league.”

Just five of his 21 U-18 teammates also came from college programs. 

The rest play professionally. Dorsey has represented the United States at past youth national team tournaments in Slovakia and Portugal, so this level of competition was not new to him.

But things are a bit different now for Dorsey. He is a bit older and his national-team teammates and opponents have signed professional contracts all around Europe and the United States.

Dorsey said it was a professional environment, but he also described the experience as a bit of a culture shock playing in a different country against international players.

Dorsey said he was glad to see the guys be able to succeed and get the job done without him.

“It’s weird being away from the team, but they got the work done and that’s all that matters," Dorsey said.

The Evergreen, Colorado, native was part of the 2017 recruiting class for IU, one that has raised some eyebrows around the country with its level of play.

Along with goalkeeper Trey Muse and forwards Mason Toye, Justin Rennicks and Thomas Warr, the group came in as a top-five class, per Top Drawer Soccer. 

The group has proven itself by having five players in the top-50 freshman list released by Top Drawer Soccer earlier this week.

Dorsey said being included in this recruiting class is “special.” IU junior midfielder Francesco Moore said he kind of expected this type of play for the class just because of its hype before coming in.

Dorsey has extensive experience playing at many different levels. 

While in high school, Dorsey played in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy for the Colorado Rush. This enabled him to showcase his skills at a higher level than just the high school leagues. He was ranked as a top-20 recruit by both Top Drawer Soccer and College Soccer News. 

The freshman was ready to go from the moment he got to Bloomington.

“It’s not much of a difference,” Dorsey said. “This team plays with heart and that’s what I’ve always learned how to play with.”

Dorsey is a player who can attack with speed from the flanks. 

It looks as if Dorsey runs downhill when the ball is at his feet. Defenders are on their heels when he attacks.

He is a dynamic type of attacker that the Hoosiers have not had in a few years.

Dorsey can balance the field with other wingers or with junior defender Andrew Gutman on the left side, as Gutman often advances up from his left back position. 

Yeagley said it would potentially give opponents a harder time when they try to sort out IU's gameplan. 

“Griff is a fantastic talent,” Yeagley said. “We have to let him use his instincts and yet continue to help him grow tactically with his movements and his thoughts. But you don’t want to stifle someone with that ability. We’re going to let him do what Griff does sometimes and read those cues and make sure we find him the ball.”

The connection among the freshmen has been special to watch — Muse has 12 shutouts in goal, Toye leads the team with eight goals and Dorsey has provided energetic play on the wings.

Toye and Dorsey also share a dorm room. Toye said the chemistry from living together carries over to the field. Whether playing the NBA 2K video game, staying up late or walking to class together, it gives them more time to talk.

“I’m just like, ‘get the ball, do your thing, I’ll be in the box, I’ll put them away for you,'” Toye said. “Right now, I think he’s one of the best players in the Big Ten, even as a freshman. He’s unstoppable. Big Ten should be scared because they haven’t seen anyone like Griffin Dorsey.”

With the regular season winding down and tournament play right around the corner, the No. 1 Hoosiers have a chance to create something special. 

The season so far has allowed Dorsey to gain experience, and not just the kind that will help him as IU pursues a ninth national title, but the type that will help him beyond this season.

“Those experiences don’t come often and what I learned will stick with me forever," Dorsey said.

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