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Legendary coach, goalkeeper Bobby Clark retires

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He learned from Alex Ferguson, won 17 caps for Scotland, and led Notre Dame’s men to an NCAA title.

Now Bobby Clark, one of the best coaches in American college soccer history, is hanging up his whistle after 17 years at Notre Dame.

[ MORE: NBC’s profile on Bobby Clark ]

As a goalkeeper, Clark set a shutout record that lasted 38 years and required Edwin van der Saar to break it.

As a coach, Clark developed MLS and USMNT stars like Matt Besler, Dillon Powers, Harrison Shipp, Justin Morrow, and Jeb Brovsky.

The full statement is here.

“I just finished telling our team that this, my 17th season at Notre Dame, will be my last,” said Clark. “This has been possibly the hardest decision I have had to make in my time at Notre Dame. I have loved my time at this University and, although I have kept postponing retirement, with my 73rd birthday coming up next year I felt it was time to be in a position to spend quality time with Bette, my wife of almost 50 years, my children and importantly my seven grandchildren. I have always looked at my team as extended family, so the players will be greatly missed. If I stretch my collegiate coaching career back to when I began at Dartmouth back in 1985 then I really do have a lot of extended family.”

College Soccer Update: Maryland goes No. 1; Cuse, Notre Dame play Friday

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Sasho Cirovski’s Maryland program has no problem landing blue chip recruits, so adding the nation’s leading scorer on a transfer just seems unfair.

You might remember Gordon Wild’s name from this space last year, as the German burst onto the scene with USC Upstate and netted 16 times as a freshman.

[ MORE: Pulisic starts again as BVB rolls ]

While USC Upstate certainly won’t love the development, Cirovski was waiting with open arms when Wild decided to seek a challenge bigger than the one provided by the Atlantic Sun Conference.

Wild didn’t need to sit a year after transferring to Maryland — a program which has produced Omar Gonzalez, Graham Zusi, Robbie Rogers, Clarence Goodson, and Maurice Edu amongst others — and his eight goals in seven games show his form is carrying over well.

— Still, all those things said, I’ll never understand polls.

Notre Dame was No. 1 last week, and fell to 6-1 over the next 7 days after a loss to Louisville.

Syracuse entered the latest Top 25 coaches polling period 7-0, having won at NC State and defeated No. 15 Boston College at home. Five of those wins were shutouts.

[ MORE: Wenger praises 2-goal Perez ]

So who’s No. 1 now? Not Cuse, but 5-0-2 Maryland. The Terps and Orange both have 11 first-place votes, while Notre Dame still managed a pair.

The Orange handled the issue well, belting Cornell 3-1 on Tuesday night to move to 8-0. Up next is a Friday date at Notre Dame. Must-watch.

— Keep an eye on Denver, which is following up a very good 2015 season with a 7-0-1 start. They’ve allowed four goals all season — three have come via penalty kicks — and the Pioneers basically brought everyone back from their 15-1-3 season in 2015.

— I had the pleasure of meeting some players this summer who come from a very unusual college system at LIU Brooklyn. The Blackbirds made an NCAA Tournament appearance under head coach T.J. Kostecky last season, and the man has an unusual directive for his players on offense: They don’t talk.

Kostecky is a preacher of “vision training”, in which the coach implores his players simply to “look around” and anticipate the game. His players say the quiet tactics take some time to get used to, but then become second nature.

[ MORE: Zidane, Simeone defend Neymar’s “antics” ]

Claudio Reyna is one of the disciples of this training, and vision training was a topic on Glenn Crooks’ radio show last week.

That reminded me to check in on LIU, which has two of the more gifted young players in the Northeast. Danish attacker Rasmus Hansen and Norwegian midfielder Simen Hestnes were All-Northeast Conference as freshmen, and they’ve picked up where they left off.

Hansen had two goals and three assists this weekend and Hestnes had a goal and two helpers as LIU Brooklyn knocked off No. 22 Rider 2-1 and Manhattan 4-1.

Three Stars

  1. Simon Hestnes, sophomore, LIU Brooklyn — See above.
  2. Christian Thierjung, senior, Cal — Scored five goals against Harvard.
  3. Mohamed Thiaw, junior, Louisville — Scored fourth goal of year in 1-0 upset of No. 1 Notre Dame.

Other notes

— The nation’s leading scorer remains Russell Cicerone of the University at Buffalo, and the 10-goal man is also second in assists with six. The playmaking wizard is a surefire top-end pick in the next MLS SuperDraft.

[ MORE: EFL Cup roundup ]

— The national lead for assists belongs, however, to talented Canadian forward Brian Wright. He has nine, and should be closely watched by MLS teams ahead of the draft as well.

— Other No. 1-ranked teams:

Men’s D2- Charleston
Men’s D3- Trinity (Texas)
Women’s D1- Stanford
Women’s D2- Grand Valley State
Women’s D3- Williams

Notre Dame senior buries sweet overtime free kick to top Stanford (video)

Photo by Joe Raymond / und.com
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It was going to take an incredible strike to separate two of the highest profile programs in NCAA soccer, and Brandon Aubrey did just that.

Aubrey, a senior at Notre Dame, presided over a free kick in double overtime with the Fighting Irish all square at 1 with Stanford on Friday in California.

[ USMNT-SVG: Match recap | Player ratings ]

The 6-foot-3 Texan has three shots on goal this year. They’ve all crossed the goal line for Bobby Clark’s Irish.

What a finish. And what a finish.

MLS Combine begins Friday: Names to know one week from the SuperDraft

Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images
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How important, for better or worse, is the MLS Combine in relation to a player’s draft prospects?

Eighteen of the 21 players who were first round selections at the 2015 MLS SuperDraft participated in the combine, and it took to pick No. 8 for a non-combine player to be selected (Clement Simonin of NC State).

All five of the Generation Adidas players aren’t heading to the combine. Outside of those five, you’ll see most of Jan. 14’s draftees coming from the Combine.

[ MLS: Meet the five Generation Adidas players for the 2016 SuperDraft ]

The 2016 Combine will pit four squads of 15 players against each other for matches on Friday, Sunday and Tuesday. Full rosters are here.

A disclaimer: the MLS Combine is far from ideal. Many players won’t be playing in their natural positions, and most have been out of game action for a month or more.

We’ll list the draft order below, and won’t bother you with a mock draft at this point. But here are some names to monitor over the next five days, ones who could make big moves under the bright lights.

Brandon Vincent, D, Stanford — Jordan Morris is a stud, sure, but his college teammate could honestly be the No. 1 overall pick if Chicago sees it close and personal this week.

Callum Irving, GK, Kentucky — The Canadian backstop played with the Whitecaps Academy before starring for the Wildcats.

Neco Brett, F, Robert Morris — A bit mercurial and undersized, you cannot ignore that Brett scored 15, 14 and 13 goals in his last three seasons in Moon. The Jamaican born striker has speed to burn and a classy touch.

Patrick Hodan, M, Notre Dame — Has a legitimate chance to be a 10-year vet in the league. A solid leader who was invited to Andreas Herzog’s U-23 College ID camp in the summer.

Kyle Fisher, D, Clemson — After a College Cup season with the Tigers, Fisher is poised to be a first year contributed in Major League Soccer.

James Moberg, M, Washington — Big and coming off a season-ending knee injury, the 6-foot-2 senior has a chance to show off the promise of elite playmaking he showed in his first three seasons (6, 9 and 6 assists).

Thomas Sanner, F, Princeton — 6-foot-4 forwards with noses for goal don’t grow on trees, and Sanner is the Tigers’ third-all-time leading scorer with 32 in 64 games.

  1. Chicago Fire
  2. Colorado Rapids
  3. Philadelphia Union
  4. New York City FC
  5. Real Salt Lake
  6. Philadelphia Union
  7. Orlando City
  8. San Jose Earthquakes
  9. Toronto FC
  10. New England Revolution
  11. Sporting KC
  12. L.A. Galaxy
  13. D.C. United
  14. Montreal Impact
  15. Seattle Sounders
  16. Vancouver Whitecaps
  17. FC Dallas
  18. New York Red Bulls
  19. Columbus Crew
  20. Portland Timbers

SportsWorld: Notre Dame’s legendary coach talks Jordan Morris, MLS Combine, state of the sport

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Bobby Clark hasn’t seen it all, but the Notre Dame men’s soccer coach has seen most of it.

And with Stanford’s Jordan Morris making an impact on the USMNT while still in college, Andi Herzog scouring the ranks of active NCAA players for Olympic prospects and college players like UConn’s Cyle Larin paying immediate MLS dividends, it comes as no surprise that Clark loves what he’s seeing in college soccer.

[ SPORTSWORLD: Whistling away | Jose Fonte, Baby ]

In part of a long-form piece profiling Clark for NBC’s SportsWorld, the longtime Aberdeen keeper shared his thoughts on the state of the game.

From NBC’s SportsWorld:

Clark’s senior tri-captain, Patrick Hodan, was one of 28 players called into U.S. U-23 camp as coach Andi Herzog searches out players for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

“There’s a lot of good players in college soccer, and full marks to Jordan,” Clark said. “He’s very good and we recruited him. But was he the best striker in college soccer last year? Possibly not. I’m delighted with Patrick Hodan, who was Offensive Player (of the Year) in the ACC, but there’s a lot of good players out there and it’s terrific that U.S. Soccer is taking a serious look at them. There are a lot of good ones who aren’t even on that list.”

Clark is impressed by the wisdom of MLS squads as time goes on. Whereas the Fighting Irish coach sees the MLS Combine as a bit of a crapshoot, he’s happy to see NCAA players in MLS camps during their summers.

“Columbus, Sporting Kansas City, I know several players have gone there and practiced over the summer,” Clark said. “If they do that with local guys, they can come back and look at them through the college season with so many games streamed now. They can check up with them, and when it comes to the draft you’re not depending on the combine which is a really tough way.”

The Morris thoughts are very interesting, as they clearly aren’t a shot at the Stanford but a nod to the immense talent in the American college game. Sure Larin was a no-doubter pick for Orlando, but what about Gyasi Zardes and Tesho Akindele, who came out of CSU Bakersfield and Colorado School of Mines to thrive in MLS? Who else is out there but being overlooked?

Clark’s thoughts are very interesting, and the piece is worth a read (*Of course I think that… I wrote it) if only for the fact that the coach is an inspiration in finding a job he loves and doing it every day in admirable fashion.