Remaining NCAA Tournament teams show international influence on college soccer

International

When the Elite Eight of college soccer begins Friday night with Maryland and Clemson and continues with a slate of three games on Saturday, there will be 25 countries represented on the field. 

While Stanford, led by USMNT forward Jordan Morris, has a roster full of U.S. players that’s become extremely rare in college soccer outside of the service academies, the other seven teams have a total of 52 international players, which makes up 27 percent of the 192 total players rostered for the teams.

Germany is No. 1 on that list with stars Fabian Herbers (Creighton), Timo Pitter (Creighton), Julian Buescher (Syracuse) leading a list of eight, followed by Jack Harrison (Wake Forest), Paul Clowes (Clemson) and four others from England and a contingent of five players from Sweden.

Victor Souto (Akron) and three others hail from Brazil, which outnumbers his teammate Richie Laryea’s home country of Canada with only three total. Argentina, Bermuda, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, France, Ghana, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuela all have one or two players.

This breakdown reflects a trend in college soccer that has seen many of the stars, particularly those ineligible to sign homegrown deals with Major League Soccer clubs, hailing from around the globe.

Given the offer of continuing to play soccer while also earning a free education, it’s not surprising so many players are making the trek.

Some 167 players from England played Division 1 soccer this season. Germany had 131, only five more than the imports from border country Canada (126) – Mexico had only 31. New Zealand, which had more American college players on their U20 World Cup team than the U.S. did over the summer, had 47 players. Players from Spain and France totaled close to a hundred.

The largest importer of college talent from the CONCACAF region after Canada was 42 from Jamaica, which like New Zealand, has been more of a showcase on the international stage for college soccer with the likes of Jason Wright and Omar Holness in international play than the U.S. team has.

Fabian Herbers is favored to win the MAC Hermann Trophy this year and if he does he’ll be the second straight German to win the award after Leo Stolz won it in his senior season at UCLA last year. He’ll lead a Creighton team that features three other Germans and a Swede against an Akron team on Saturday with players from Spain, Israel, Brazil, England, New Zealand, Canada and Portugal.

Both teams spent parts of their off-seasons traveling abroad – Creighton to Germany and Akron to Brazil – where they only strengthened the ties to other parts of the world with the international language of soccer.

CountryPlayersCountryPlayers
United States4,452Japan7
England169Senegal7
Germany131Finland7
Canada126Austria7
Spain51Bermuda6
New Zealand47Switzerland5
Brazil41Croatia5
Norway40Honduras4
Jamaica39Cameroon4
France37South Korea3
Mexico31Hong Kong3
Scotland26United Arab Emirates3
Trinidad & Tobago25Portugal3
Ghana20Bahamas3
Republic of Ireland17Cape Verde2
Australia16Argentina2
Denmark15Kenya2
Costa Rica14Peru1
Iceland13Democratic Republic of Congo1
Venezuela13Tawain1
Israel12Northern Ireland1
Italy11Cayman Islands1
Guatemala9Montenegro1
South Africa9Guadeloupe1
The Netherlands9Estonia1
Serbia9Barbados1
Nigeria8Togo1
Hungary8Romania1
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