Akron men’s soccer unveils 8-player signing class for 2022
AKRON, Ohio – The University of Akron men’s soccer squad under the leadership of 10th-year head coach Jared Embick, has announced a talented eight-member newcomer class that will hit the pitch for the Zips during the 2022 spring campaign.
Donning the Akron uniform this spring will be Gyuwon Chong (Kansas City, Mo), Stefan Dobrijevic, (Uniontown, Ohio), Josh Hallenberger (San Antonio, Texas), Jak Higginbotham (Derby, England), Maruki Kawahara (Tochigi, Japan), Grant McIntosh (Plano, Texas), Joel Sangwa (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Levi Stephens (Akron, Ohio).
A midfielder from Kansas City, Mo., Chong joins the Zips after playing his freshman campaign at Temple, where he appeared in 12 matches for the Owls, including 10 starts. He gained valuable playing experience with Sporting Kansas City.
Embick on Chong – “Gyuwon is a quick technical player. He can play on the wings or through the middle. We feel he can add dynamic ability to combine and beat people in the final third. He is a great fit for our style of play.”
A forward from Uniontown, Ohio, Dobrijevic gained valuable playing experience with the Internationals Academy. He is the 19th-rated forward nationally by TopDrawerSoccer.com, while ranking as the sixth-best player in the Great Lakes Region and 91st on the IMG Academy 150.
Embick on Dobrijevic – “Stefan has potential to be a top scorer in the league before he is done at Akron. Great instincts around goal, comfortable running at players as well as back to goal. He can play anywhere across the front line. An exciting player to watch.”
A midfielder from San Antonio, Texas, Hallenberger joins the Zips after playing his freshman and sophomore campaigns at Clemson, where he appeared in 21 matches for the Tigers, including four starts, registering two goals and three assists on the strength of 16 shots, with seven coming on net. Hallenberger gained valuable playing experience with the Houston Dynamo Academy. As a member of its U-16/17 team, Hallenberger made 25 starts and recorded six goals in the 2018-19 season before closing his club career playing for the U-18/19 squad.
Embick on Hallenberger – “Josh comes to us form a great background with the Houston Dynamo and Clemson. I feel he has not reached his best level and we will help him find it. He is player that is very good in 1v1 situations in the final third. He has great determination to make plays around goal. I am really looking forward to working with him and fine tuning his game.”
A native of Derby, England, Higginbotham, a defender has gained valuable playing experience with Crewe Alexandra, Sunderland and Philadelphia Union U-23’s.
Embick on Higginbotham – “Jak can play defensive midfield or center back. He brings leadership and personality to the team. He has a great presence and will bring defensive toughness and balance to our team. “
A native of Tochigi, Japan, Kawahara, a midfielder, joins the Zips after playing two seasons at Iowa Western Community College, where he appeared in 34 games, including 14 starts, en route to scoring five goals and five assists on the strength of eight shots, with five falling on net. He earned Honorable Mention All-Region accolades in Iowa Community College Athletic Conference in Spring 2021 en route to helping the Reivers compete in the Spring 2021 NJCAA National Championship and helped them win the Fall 2021 NJCAA Championship.
Embick on Kawahara – “High-end technical ability and IQ. He is a very quick player that can maintain possession and will help us control games and dominate the midfield.”
McIntosh, a defender from Plano, Texas, McIntosh joins the Zips after gaining valuable playing experience with the Solar Soccer Club in Plano, Texas. Grant was a key starter for Solar in their Fall 2020/Spring 2021 MLS Next Season which ended in a defeat in the National Championship game.
Embick on McIntosh – “Grant is a technical defender with great intangibles. He is a winner and is a very well-rounded defender in all aspects but we’re most excited about his mentality and what he brings to teams intangibly that helps them win.”
A native of Phoenix, Ariz., Sangwa, a defender joins the Zips after playing this past season at Iowa Western Community College, where he was a key starter for two seasons. He helped the Reivers to back-to-back NJCAA National Championship appearances in the Spring 2021 and Fall 2021 seasons. Winning the title in 2021 behind a 20-1-1 record.
Embick on Sangwa – “Very talented defender. Great center back that has won a JUCO championship at Iowa Western. Very athletic and good in space. Deals with 1v1 very well and yet has the ball playing ability we like in our style. He is a big-time player.”
A native of Akron, Ohio, Stephens, a defender has gained valuable playing experience with the Columbus Crew Academy as well as the Philadelphia Union and Internationals Academy in the United States Development Academy and MLS Next League. He is the 35th-rated forward nationally by TopDrawerSoccer.com, while ranking as the seventh-best player in the Great Lakes Region and 92nd on the IMG Academy 150.
Embick on Stephens – “Levi comes to us as one of the better players in the Crew Academy. He is athletic and can help us at right back and center back. Covers ground well, tenacious player. Big upside. I look forward to his future with Akron and expect him to be an impact player for us hopefully immediately, but certainty will at some point in his career.”
2022 Akron Men’s Soccer Signing Class
Gyuwon Chong, midfielder, Kansas City, Mo. (Temple)
Stefan Dobrijevic, forward, Uniontown, Ohio (Internationals Academy)
Josh Hallenberger, midfielder, San Antonio, Texas (Clemson)
Jak Higginbotham, defender, Derby, England (Philadelphia Union)
Maruki Kawahara, midfielder, Tochigi, Japan (Iowa Western CC)
Grant McIntosh, defender, Plano, Texas (Solar Soccer Club)
Joel Sangwa, defender, Phoenix, Ariz. (Iowa Western CC)
Levi Stephens, defender, Akron, Ohio (Columbus Crew Academy)