Monmouth University

College Soccer Update: Monmouth’s monster keeper; Virginia’s wonder dribble (video)

1 Comment

Eric Klenofsky is keeping himself out of the local headlines, but that won’t stop the national plaudits.

The giant junior goalkeeper from Monmouth, the one with appendages like octopi and the reaction time of a jack rabbit, is the owner of the top goals against average in the nation two years running.

He also happens to be the sports editor at the college paper, The Outlook, which could cause some problems if he wasn’t a strict disciple of journalist protocol.

[ MORE: FIFA turns on Warner, bans him for life ]

“I try to keep myself out of the sports section as much as possible,” Klenofsky said. “It’s a tricky situation, but a situation that I’m blessed to be in.”

That work ethic and moral fabric might keep his name out of the pages, but there’s little debating his skills, fundamentals, and accolades. The junior paced the country in goals against average in 2013 (.22) and 2014 (.48), finishing second in save percentage both seasons, and has realistic MLS aspirations.

So how does a guy double-down on that? By facing a stiffer challenge.

“This season I really just want to prove all the naysayers wrong,” Klenofsky said. “You can look at the stats and say, ‘He’s a really good keeper’ or ‘He had really good center backs,’ which I did. But I want people to know it wasn’t just them. I want there to be no question about those stats. Ever.”

The Hawks graduated a pair of stud center backs last season. Eric Jeffery is now in MLS with Colorado after back-to-back stints as MAAC Defensive Player of the Year, while Hawks coach Robert McCourt says Emmanuel Senyah Agyemang has MLS-level talent but, unfortunately, Ghanaian citizenship which makes teams think twice before using a foreign slot.

On top of the graduations, there have been injuries.

“We’re down two very experienced, good level defenders,” McCourt said. “We’ve been trying to mix and match until we’ve gotten the blend correctly.”

[ MORE: College soccer news ]

So Klenofsky’s .87 goals against average and .803 save percentage are still quite impressive, and perhaps show just how good the kid can be.

“Eric’s a really savvy guy for his age. I think he’s an MLS guy,” McCourt said. “We’ve had seven guys drafted in the last seven years, including (San Jose goalkeeper) Bryan Meredith, and he feels the same if (Klenofsky) continues to push his development.”

After a tough 0-3 start to the season, Monmouth has settled into its shape in front of Klenofsky. Winners of five of six — the sixth a 0-0 tie — the Hawks have allowed just two goals in their unbeaten streak.

Next: a very difficult challenge in talented conference mates Iona.

Three stars

  1. Seattle. Wow. The 7-2 Redhawks knocked off a pair of Top 15 teams in three days time, upending Washington 2-1 and then heading to Oregon State to topple the Beavers 2-1. It’s been bombs away for Seattle, with three players ripping off 20 or more shots this year, including leading scorer Hamza Haddadi.
  2. South Carolina entered the week just a game over .500 and ended it ranked in the Top 20. How? They ended Elon’s undefeated season with a 3-1 win before knocking off New Mexico 2-1. That’ll do it. Gamecocks forward and D-2 transfer Danny Deakin now has six goals to lead the team.
  3. Virginia’s Derrick Etienne got a heck of a lot of respect from VCU’s midfield on a free dribble up the middle, but there’s no debating what he did the rest of the was class, and the first goal of the freshman’s career (See 2:11 into video)

Other notes

  • Creighton lost three of the 24 total first-place votes in the NSCAA poll, with North Carolina (2) and Wake Forest (1) stepping in for some. Apparently blanking Northern Illinois and scoring three goals in 11 minutes to comeback on Seton Hall isn’t enough to impress continuity amongst all voters.
  • The UNC Tar Heels did improve to 7-0-1 on the season by beating rival Duke 2-1 at Chapel Hill. Wake Forest beat Akron and tied Clemson.
  • Also No. 1? Charleston (Men’s D2), Kenyon (Men’s D3), UNC (Women’s D1), Central Missouri (Women’s D2), Messiah (Women’s D3)

Watch Live: Wolves v. Liverpool

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Liverpool has the opportunity to go 16 points ahead of the pack still with a game in hand as they visit Wolverhampton Wanderers at 3:00 p.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at

[ STREAM LIVE: Wolves v. Liverpool ]

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has decided to keep Joe Gomez in the starting lineup alongside Virgil Van Dijk at center-back, with Joel Matip on the bench. Matip has not featured since returning from a knee injury. Van Dijk, meanwhile, continues to power along as Liverpool’s rock, making his 23rd start of the season having played every single minute of the Premier League campaign thus far.

Liverpool has Georginio Wijnaldum in midfield alongside captain Jordan Henderson and creative force Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, while Fabinho sits on the bench.

For Wolves, the hosts make no changes from the wild 3-2 win over Southampton last time out. Portuguese boss Nuno sees Raul Jimenez lead the line yet again, looking to follow up his game-saving brace against the Saints that leveled the scoreline in the 65th minute before giving Wolves the lead for good 10 minutes later. The pair marked the first two goals of the new year for the Mexican, who hadn’t scored since the December 27th win over Manchester City.

Adama Traore also looks to continue his good form, having assisted two of the goals against Southampton and generally terrorizing Premier League clubs since the turn of the calendar year.

Wolves has scored just one goal in its last six league games against Liverpool, all losses. They do, however, have moxie this season, having gained gained 18 points from losing positions this season, seven more than any other club.

NCAA D1 soccer to vote on expanded season

Getty Images
Leave a comment

A report by the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jonathan Tannenwald has revealed that NCAA Division 1 men’s soccer is close to heading towards a full-season schedule, expanding the current fall schedule that sees the College Cup finish up around mid-December.

Tannenwald’s report, which cites Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski who has led the charge for a full calendar season, states that the new proposal would drop the regular season schedule from 25 to 23 total games, but would expand the campaign across the entire school year. The first half would consist of 13 games and end around Thanksgiving, before picking back up in the spring with nine official games. Three exhibitions would be spread around the season, as opposed to the current setup of five meaningless exhibition games all set in the spring offseason.

The main goal of the plan, which is years in the making, is to eliminate midweek games, helping to cut down on missed class time for players. At least, that’s what Cirovski is selling to the NCAA. His true goal is to help players get used to a full professional schedule, knowing that currently, collegiate players tend to hit a wall in their first few professional seasons, holding their careers back.

Tannenwald reports that the eventual vote, which will be held in April, will consist of 64 total submissions. Each Power 5 conference will have four votes each, while the Group of 5 conferences get two votes each and the remaining conferences get one vote each. To pass, the proposal needs a full majority, meaning 33 yes votes are required out of the 64. The report states that the Atlantic 10 confirmed to the Inquirer that they will vote yes to the proposal, while the Ivy League said it will vote no.

“The college coaches on the men’s side are going to be working hand in hand for the next three months to try to get us to the finish line, to do something that is transformational, an evolutionary and positive change, and a game-changer in this country for not only college soccer, but we feel for soccer in general,” Cirovski said.

The report states that Cirovski has solid support from inside the college soccer space, and also in the pro soccer community where there is excitement that the new proposal will help development and transition from college soccer to professional life. It says that while this would only cover the Division 1 men’s schedule for now, it’s likely that the women’s ranks would follow soon after should this initial proposal pass through, and D2 and D3 could also tag along.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Chelsea searching for striker

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Chelsea is still determining how long the club will be without talismanic striker Tammy Abraham after an ankle injury saw him limp his way through the final few minutes of the 2-2 draw with Arsenal. Chelsea had run out of substitutes so Abraham was forced to stay on, but he was clearly struggling at the end and now the club waits on further testing.

While the Blues were already linked with strikers before Abraham’s ankle trouble, they have now reportedly stepped up the chase for a short-term injury replacement. Widely reported as the club’s first choice, it appears that Edinson Cavani – who handed in a transfer request at PSG, the French club confirmed – will likely move to Atletico Madrid.

That has seen Chelsea look to other options, and according to multiple tabloids across England as well as some fringe reports in France, the Blues have reopened talks with Lyon over the availability of Moussa Dembele. The 23-year-old former Fulham youth product has been prolific this season for the French club, scoring 11 goals in 19 Ligue 1 games plus another four in four domestic cup matches. Still, Lyon reportedly rebuffed a $44 million bid earlier this month which at the time ended the conversation.

Manchester United’s public chase of Sporting CP midfielder Bruno Fernandes has taken yet another twist.

According to a report by Portuguese publication Record, an unnamed agent of Fernandes has a signed agreement with the club for a $5.5 million fee should he arrive with a $55 million transfer bid that the club rejects. This could potentially put pressure on Sporting to sell the 25-year-old whereas the club had been playing hardball on his valuation.

The report does not specify which agent the clause is connected to, which is notable because it could either be Fernandes’s personal agent or superagent Jorge Mendes who reportedly struck a deal with the club to help broker this transfer. Mendes is on record saying that Fernandes will leave Sporting, but they may wait until the summer to pull the trigger.

Even former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho had jokes about the drawn out transfer saga regarding Bruno Fernandes. After Tottenham’s win over Norwich on Wednesday, Mourinho jabbed with a reporter, approaching him about his assignment in Portugal covering the transfer rumor. “How was Lisbon?” Mourinho asked in jest. “Lisbon was good? So Bruno Fernandes come to United or no?” Mourinho said. “So you go to Lisbon and he’s not coming? But coming or no?”

According to Italian journalist Gianluca di Marzio, Newcastle is nearing a loan deal for 23-year-old Inter wide player Valentino Lazaro. The report states that Newcastle has entered a loan bid involving a $1.7 million fee that includes a $26 million option to buy at the end of the season.

Lazaro joined Inter this past summer from German club Hertha Berlin for about $25 million, but has failed to make an impact at his new home, with just six Serie A appearances to date and just three of those starts. He has not collected a goal and has just one assist, resulting in significant time on the bench. With the arrival of Victor Moses and Ashley Young this winter, Inter is hoping to offset the additions to the squad with the sale of Lazaro.

The Austrian international scored three goals and assisted seven others last season with Hertha, earning his move to Inter. As a right-sided player, he would be direct competition for USMNT international DeAndre Yedlin who is currently on the shelf after suffering a hand injury.

Multiple Italian tabloids have picked up on the rumor that Carlo Ancelotti has plugged back into his Napoli roots in the hopes of convincing Brazilian midfielder Allan to join Everton this winter.

According to both Gianluca di Marzio and Tuttomercadoweb, Ancelotti has made contact with Napoli regarding the striker, although he has heavy competition from Inter. The 29-year-old has been with Napoli since joining in 2015 from Udinese, and he has logged significant time this season, making 14 Serie A appearances and five more in Champions League play.

Known as a tough tackler, Allan would take a significant investment by Everton to pry him loose mid-season, given his importance in the Napoli squad and his current contract that runs through the summer of 2023.

Italian publication Tuttosport thought it prudent to report that Manchester United is considering bringing Carlos Tevez back to the Premier League on loan. He’s started one game for Boca Juniors since late August. Yea, that ain’t happening.

Aston Villa signs 16-year-old Barry from Barcelona youth squad

Getty Images
Leave a comment

On Thursday morning, Aston Villa announced the signing of 16-year-old Barcelona youth player Louie Barry, who will move straight into the academy squad at Villa Park.

Barry, an England youth international who moved from West Brom’s youth program to Barcelona last summer, has reportedly struggled to integrate in Spain and eventually opted to move back to his home country. According to the Barcelona release on Barry’s departure, Villa paid the Spanish club around $1.16 million for Barry’s signature, and reports suggest that could increase significantly with bumpers in the deal.

“It sends a powerful message about the ambition of this football club,” Academy manager Mark Harrison told VillaTV upon the initial club release of the news. “We’re delighted – Louie is a local person and his family are all Villa fans, as is Louie. He is still a very young man but as he’s developed, he’s always been one player that you always recognize as having outstanding attributes. He’s got a fantastic mentality, he’s desperate to do well for this football club.”

Barry’s departure from West Brom is still being resolved, with Barcelona still yet to pay the English club the standard $308,000 fee for international youth players that turn down professional contracts.

Aston Villa has dipped significantly into its academy products this season, with Indiana Vassilev, Cameron Archer and Jacob Ramsey all making first-team debuts at certain points. Vassilev, a USMNT youth international, has made two Premier League appearances at just 18 years old, coming off the bench for decent spells against Brighton and Watford this month. Archer played a substitute role in an EFL Cup game against Crewe Alexandria, while Ramsey played in an EFL Cup game against Brighton and saw action in the FA Cup loss to Fulham.