In the past 6 years over 130 Grande Sports Academy graduates have gone on to pursue collegiate soccer careers at various programs of all levels across the country and 28 players have signed professional contracts. There are currently a remarkable 21 GSA alums playing at one of the Top 25 ranked NCAA Men’s Soccer programs. With Week 4 of the NCAA Men’s Soccer season completed and Week 5 in progress, many of our Grande Sports Academy alums continue with their impressive performances. Two other Grande Sports Academy graduates who play professionally at the highest level in the U.S. got recognized for their immense talent and performances. Read all about it in this week’s Grande Alums Roundup.
Two Grande Alums among top ranked young players in Major League Soccer
Justen Glad and Jordan Allen, both Grande Sports Academy graduates, received great news as they were both ranked among the top young players in Major League Soccer on their annual “24 Under 24” list presented by EA Sports. Justen, who is barely 19 years old, has cemented his starting role in the Real Salt Lake’s back line with a number exceptional performances this season. RSL was hit with a number of injuries early on in the season and Justen courageously stepped up and seized the moment. Justen spent 2 and a half years at Grande Sports Academy before signing his first professional contract with RSL, and was an indispensable member of the 2013 USSDA U-15/16 National Championship winning team, also scoring in the championship game. Justen is ranked No.15 on the “24 Under 24” list.
Jordan, who is listed at No.16 and only one spot lower than his good friend, joined Grande Sports Academy in 2011 and was one of the earlier trailblazers for the program. He stood out among some of the most talented young players and won the 2012 USSDA U-15/16 Academy Player of the Year award. He went on to play college soccer at University of Virginia where he started all games in his freshman year and has played a vital role in Cavaliers’ NCAA Tournament run that unfortunately ended with a loss in the semi-finals in 2013. Jordan scored a spectacular game-winning goal in the NCAA quarter-finals vs. UConn with half bicycle kick. Take a look at his masterpiece (at 1:40). There is without a doubt an incredibly bright future ahead for both young men.
Brooks Lennon continues to shine at Liverpool FC
Brooks, arguably one of the most talented young players in the country, signed a professional contract with Liverpool FC last summer after spending 3 incredible seasons at Grande Sports Academy. He and Justen Glad (above) were two of the most important pieces of the puzzle for the U-15/16 academy team’s 2013 USSDA National Championship victorious run. Brooks scored once and had two assists in the final game against Solar Chelsea. In his last season at Grande Sports Academy, Brooks scored a remarkable 31 goals, only 3 less than the top scorer of the 2014-15 season, his fellow Grande alum Damian German. Brooks, who is only turning 19 today (Happy Birthday!), has had a very impressive first full year overseas playing with Liverpool U-18 and U-21 team. It didn’t take him long to impress not only his coaches but also fans, media and other soccer experts. At the beginning of the year he started in the U-21s FA Youth Cup victory over Nottingham Forest, which saw Liverpool progress to the quarters with a 2-1 win. He had a fantastic run and assist for the opening goal. Take a look and see for yourself. Later in the Spring he scored two goals in Liverpool U-21s friendly match 5-0 win against Chesterfield and then went on to score his first official goal in the U-21s’ 2-0 Premier U21 League International Cup win over Celtic earlier this summer. All this and more earned him a spot among the “10 Liverpool academy players to keep an eye on in 2016/17” and some words of praise “…the versatile, highly gifted Lennon has a genuine chance of earning a first-team spot in the coming years.” This season, at barely 19, he has already been included in the Liverpool U-23 squad on a regular basis and scored a beautiful goal in their 6-2 win over Tottenham Spurs. You can see the highlights from the match and Brooks’ goal here (at 5-1 score). Definitely keep a close eye on “Brooksy”.
Grande Alums help extend Maryland’s unbeaten streak and reach the No.1 spot
Amar Sejdic and Diego Silva continued to play an important role for Maryland as they extended their unbeaten streak to 7 games already. Amar, Diego and their teammates are having quite an amazing start of the season and are now ranked No.1 in the country for the first time in 2016. Both boys started in the last two hard fought games which both ended up being overtime wins for Maryland. Amar scored a penalty kick in the 2nd half to tie the game at one a piece in their 3-2 win over Penn State. This was Amar’s second goal of the season and he has also added 2 assists to his account so far this season. The Terps will look to continue their incredible run as No. 1 Maryland hosts No. 22 Michigan State on Friday at Ludwig Field. Other two Grande alums, freshman Miles Stray and sophomore Paul Bin, will be hoping to log in some more minutes in the upcoming games.
Jose Hernandez and Erik Holt start in both UCLA wins
Since defeating the former No.1 ranked team Akron by a stunning 6-1 score a couple of weeks ago, No.6 UCLA have been on a role overcoming the slow start of the season. Jose Hernandez and Erik Holt started yet again in both of Bruins’ last two games and played an important role as UCLA wrapped up a good week with two more wins. Erik, who has been the staple of Bruins’ defense as a center back or a defensive midfielder, played all 90 minutes in the 4-0 shutout win vs CSUN. Jose, who scored his first goal of the season against Akron, now added a first assist of his sophomore season to his tally as well. He had an outstanding freshman campaign with 11 goals and 4 assists and was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and into the first team All-Pac-12 selection. Both men also played 93 and 96 minutes in their 2-1 overtime win against UC Santa Barbara. The Bruins play Cal Poly next and the game is this Friday at 8:00 PM. Two more Grande graduates, Chase Bishov and Ethan Shacknai, will hopefully get an opportunity to earn their first UCLA career playing minutes as well.
Riggs Lennon scores 3 goals, Creighton wins 3 in a row
Riggs Lennon is another Grande Sports Academy graduate who is having an extraordinary start of the season. This past week, Riggs and his No.12 Creighton teammates logged two more wins to make it 3 in a row. Riggs was in goal scoring mode all week taking a team high 13 shots on goal and hitting the back of the net once in a 3-0 win vs University of Missouri-Kansas City and two times in the 4-1 win against Seton Hall. He has already scored 4 goals for the Bluejays after transferring from University of Virginia where he spent 3 very successful years. Riggs converted the clinching penalty kick in the shootout of the 2014 NCAA College Cup championship match against UCLA on December 14, 2014. Relieve the history here.
Baird gets on the scoresheet as 2015 NCAA Champions pick up the pace
After a slow start to their 2016 NCAA campaign Stanford has rediscovered their championship form and the team has now won three straight games in a dominating fashion: 4-1, 3-1 and 4-0. Stanford has scored 3+ goals in three straight games for the first time since 2001. Corey Baird started in all of Stanford’s games this season and seems to have found his scoring touch as he netted his first two goals of the season in the 4-1 win over San Jose State (goal here) and 4-0 win against Omaha (goal here). Corey had an outstanding season last year with 3 goals and incredible 13 assists playing a vital role together with Jordan Morris in Stanford’s championship run. Two of Corey’s assists came in the final vs Clemson. Another, Grande Sports Academy graduate, Trevor Hyman, continues to log minutes for the Cardinals off the bench.
Four Grande alums and No.21 UNM Lobos on a roll as they win for the fifth straight time
Josh Goss, Lucas Seligman, Sam Gleadle and Aaron Herrera, three different generations of Grande Sports Academy graduates now all reunited at New Mexico, continued with their incredible run of form as they defeated UC Irvine with a score of 3-1. After losing first two games of the season, the Lobos have clearly turned it around and have now won five in a row already and climbing the rankings to enter the NCAA Top 25. Aaron and Josh, who started all the games this season, were in the starting XI yet again, while Sam, a junior this year, entered in the second half and grabbed his first assist of the season (for the 3rd Lobos goal) almost immediately upon entering the field. Lucas also played a noticeable role in the win, logging 52 minutes.
Niki Jackson shines for Grand Canyon University Lopes
It was a mixed week for the Lopes as they split their last two games, but it was an incredible week for Niki Jackson who scored 3 times and added an assist on top of that. In the game against IUPUI Niki was literally on fire as he took down the opponents all by himself scoring his first career hat-trick in the 3-0 win. GCU played a hard fought game against Pacific just 3 days later and lost 2-1 in overtime. Niki assisted on the lone goal and now has 5 goals and an assist for the season. Damian German, the top scorer of the 2014-2015 USSDA season with 34 goals scored in 40 games, also started in both games but wasn’t able to get on the scoresheet this time. GCU posted a wonderful story about Damian earlier this week and you can read it here. Daniel Moreno and Patrick Ring did not play this past week and Amer Sasivarevic was not available due to an injury.
Schmitt, Gayton and Louisville Cardinals win three in a row
Jack Gayton and Tate Schmitt both started in both Cardinals’ wins in Week 4 of the NCAA season. Tate, a Phoenix native playing in his sophomore year, scored his second goal of the season in a 2-0 win over Xavier. In the second half of the season Tate will look to match and improve on his freshman season record when he scored 7 goals and had 4 assists. Both, Tate and Jack, also started in their hard fought 1-0 win, third in a row, against the former No.1 team in the country Notre Dame who dropped to No. 3 spot with the loss. Next up for the Cards is a matchup with No.16 Virginia and two fellow Grande alums, Terrell Lowe and Bay Kurtz.
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