A pair of scoreless semis have given us a marquee matchup of what could be the U.S. men’s national team future standouts in the College Cup final on Sunday.
To be fair, Stanford’s Jordan Morris is already on the full USMNT. Yet he’ll go head-to-head — or boot-to-glove — with U.S. U-23 goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell and Clemson.
They took different paths to the game despite the twin 0-0 score lines. Tarbell was absolutely fantastic for Clemson, who was under constant pressure from Syracuse.
The Tigers have been among the nation’s best all year, but the Orange dominated early. Syracuse survived a lull caused by the departure of instrumental captain Liam Callahan to restore said dominance into the second half and extra time.
But Tarbell stood tall and got the dang thing to kicks, where Clemson prevailed to advance to its first final since 1987, when it won the second of its two NCAA titles.
On the end was Morris and Stanford, who had the majority of chances against No. 4 Akron. The Zips particularly couldn’t get finish on the chances handed to dangerous speedster Richie Laryea, but the Cardinal looked more likely to score for most of the game.
Unlike the Clemson-Syracuse set of PKs, the team with the better 90 minutes prevailed in this one. Akron missed a couple pivotal kicks, one that could’ve sealed their spot in the final, before goalkeeper Andrew Epstein slammed the door shut with a save on the Zips’ last effort.
This is Stanford’s third appearance in the final, having lost to Indiana and UCLA in 1998 and 2002, respectively.
Other prospects to watch:
- Brandon Vincent, Senior, Stanford — the Cardinal’s stalwart back has been just as strong — if not stronger — than Morris in recent games.
- Kyle Fisher, Senior, Clemson — The young back’s game is MLS-ready.
- T.J. Casner, Senior, Clemson — The Californian leads Clemson in goals (10).
- Tomas Hilliard-Arce, Sophomore, Stanford — The son of a hockey player, the standout defender has been in U.S. U-23 identification camp and also started 22 games for the Cardinal.