Andrew Gutman was just awarded the MAC Hermann Trophy Jan. 4. That means the senior defender is the best player in the nation.
The best player in college soccer belonged to IU. Now he’s four months away from graduating and leaving Bloomington.
Gutman and his seven other seniors, who together won 75 matches in four years, are all gone.
Sophomore Griffin Dorsey, who was one of the most explosive offensive players for IU, signed a Generation Adidas deal with the MLS, foregoing his final two years of eligibility.
That’s nine of the 11 starters on last season’s College Cup team now gone.
So, what’s the expectation for IU men’s soccer in the 2019 season?
This program is so prestigious that it’s hard to imagine a year in which IU isn’t mentioned as one of the best teams in the nation. It’s also very unlikely Coach Todd Yeagley will ever use the term rebuilding to describe one of his teams.
Even though on paper it definitely looks like a rebuilding year, that might not be the case.
Sophomores Trey Muse and Justin Rennicks are the two big returning players. Even that isn’t official yet as both have the freedom and talent to pursue professional careers if they wanted, but so far the Muse and Rennicks camps have been fairly quiet.
Assuming those two return, IU still has sophomores Spencer Glass, who was a capable starter this past season and played valuable minutes each match, and A.J. Palazzolo, who is a defender converted-striker that can cause problems in the box off set pieces.
The Hoosiers still have freshman Jack Maher, who played like a senior all season long and was stellar in the center back position.
OK, so that’s five really solid players.
Junior defender Jordan Kleyn has proven himself to Yeagley the last two seasons with good minutes in the outside back position.
Freshman Joe Schmidt and sophomores Thomas Warr and Ian Black also all saw ounces of playing time this season.
Mix that in with the recruits and the development of all the young players, and the team could still be a burden to play against.
Now, there’s clearly holes in the midfield and question marks on the backline that will need to be addressed. It’s hard to imagine this team making noise in the NCAA, but for some reason, there’s this odd feeling that it doesn’t feel out of the question.
That’s because of Yeagley and his staff. It will be Yeagley’s 10th year at the helm when the 2019 season begins, and he knows what he’s doing on the pitch.
Senior night was Oct. 28, 2018, and Yeagley raved about the careers that senior class had and even said how he was worried about what he’s going to do next year — although he said it in sort of a joking manner, with a coolness to it.
His program’s slogan is "tradition of excellence" and each year he challenges his team to be different than ones before, to add to the legacy that is IU men’s soccer.
Only time will tell what this year’s team will do to stand out from the rest.
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