Akron men’s soccer announces 13-player signing class
AKRON, Ohio – The University of Akron men’s soccer squad under the leadership of ninth-year head coach Jared Embick, has announced a talented 13-member signing class for 2021.
Donning the Akron uniform this fall will be Tobias Bak (Taastrup, Denmark), Mitch Budler (Lincoln, Nebraska), Jonas Buechte (Rantingen, Germany), Santiago Frias (Oakville, Ontario), Samuel George (Dagenham, England), Malik Henry (Hamilton, Ontario), Renato Kauzlaric (Zagreb, Croatia), Ryan Kingsford (Herne Bay, England), Santiago Labarca (Santiago, Chile), Connor Lee (Hudson, Ohio), William Portman (Sheffield, England), Samu Siemens-Brega (The Hague, Netherlands) and Wan Kuzri Wan Kamal (Carbondale, Ill.).
“My staff did an excellent job with this class,” Embick commented. “It has the makings of a tremendous class. We have players that are capable of making an immediate impact. We found players that have technical ability and IQ to play our style, but maybe more importantly we found players with a competitive mindset and winning mentality that we need to complement our returning core. We have big goals, and this team will have the capability of achieving them.”
A native of Taastrup, Denmark, Bak, a defender, comes to Akon after playing his freshman campaign at Muskegon Community College where he garnered Second-Team All-America accolades on the strength of five goals and three assists in 2021. The Jayhawks advanced to the NJCAA National Tournament where Muskegon was bested by top-seeded Pima Community College, 2-0, before beating eighth-seeded Patrick Henry, 7-2. Muskegon went 6-1 on the campaign en route to conference, regional and state titles.
A native of Lincoln, Neb., Budler, a goalkeeper, gained valuable playing experience with the Philadelphia Union II in the USL Championship League. TopDrawerSoccer.com rates Budler as the No. 38 player in the IMG Academy 150, while ranking him as the No. 3 goalkeeper in the country and tops among players not signing professionally. He attended YSC Academy in Wayne, Pa., for both his junior and senior campaigns while playing for the Philadelphia Union II after leading Shattuck St. Mary’s Academy during his freshman and sophomore years. As a sophomore, he helped lead Shattuck St. Mary’s U-16/17 squad to a No. 1 national ranking on the strength of a 19-1-1 mark allowing only 13 goals all season en route to advancing to the playoff quarterfinals. Registered the most shutouts across all levels of the U.S. Development Academy for the 2018-19 season. Garnered valuable playing experience as a member of the United State’s U-14 and U-16 National team.
A native of Rantingen, Germany, Buechte, a defender, played for prestigious Bundesliga club Fortuna Dusseldorf, winning regional cup titles at both U-17 and U-19 levels. Joined Oberliga team Ratingen before becoming a member of the Zips. Attended Lessing Berufskolleg High School.
A native of Oakville, Ontario, Frias, a defender, gained valuable playing experience with Sigma FC and most recently with Canadian Premier League team Forge, where he is one of the youngest players to play in the Canadian Premier League. Came from same club as former Zips Marcel Zajac and Richie Laryea.
A native of Dagenham, England, George, a forward, comes to Akron after a decorated career at Ottawa University in Surprise, Ariz., where registered 33 career goals and 14 assists. He helped lead his squad to a Golden State Athletic Conference Western Division title in 2020 en route to garnering First-Team NCCAA All-America and honorable mention All-America honors, while also collecting GSAC all-conference and Player of the Year accolades. Earned Second-Team NCCAA All-America and NAIA All-West Regional laurels in 2019 after scoring 13 goals and adding eight assists. Earned a bachelor’s degree from Ottawa, while maintaining a 3.78 cumulative GPA.
A native of Hamilton, Ontario, Henry, a midfielder/forward, comes to Akron after playing his freshman campaign at North Carolina, where he appeared in three games for the Tar Heels. A member of the Canadian U-15 National Team, he attended St. Jean de Brebeuf Catholic Secondary School. Gained valuable playing experience with Toronto FC.
A native of Zagreb, Croatia, Kauzlaric, a midfielder, comes to Akron after playing his first two seasons at UMass Lowell, where he started 26 of 32 games en route to scoring two goals and adding seven assists. He started all 15 games he played in 2019 and finished second on the squad with five assists on the strength of 20 shots, including six on frame. Garnered 2018 America East All-Rookie team accolades after starting 11 of 17 games and recording 16 shots with eight on goal while netting two goals and adding a pair of assists. Gained valuable playing experience with NK Dubrava ZG in the Croatian second tier. Was part of Croatia U-17 and U-18 camps.
A native of Herne Bay, England, Kingsford, a forward, comes to Akron after playing two seasons at Harcum College in Bryn Mawr, Pa. The Bears posted a 13-1 record during the 2021 spring campaign, the best in program history. Kingsford was the top goal scorer in Junior College for the 2021 spring season. He was awarded all-region Player of the Year honors. He attended The Abbey School. Gained valuable playing experience with Herne Bay FC first team.
A native of Sheffield, England, Portman, a defender, comes to Akron after playing his first three campaigns at Louisville where he started 32 of 36 games played and helped spark the Cardinals to 17 shutouts. Started 10 of 11 contests this past season. Played for the Sheffield United U23 developmental program, while helping Sheffield United win the National Development League U18 Championship.