Cal men’s soccer signs nine 2023 recruits to National Letter of Intent
BERKELEY – California men’s soccer has signed nine players to National Letters of Intent, first-year head coach Leonard Griffin announced.
Cal signed goalkeeper Zach Andoh, midfielder Brendan Bell, defender Owen Bizzaro, midfielder Jack Bowers, midfielder Kai Djerbaka, winger Justin Knighton, winger/defender Giancarlo Mota Morfin, defender/midfielder Wisdom Onuoma and midfielder Kevin Rodriguez.
The new Golden Bears represent the first signings for Griffin at Cal, with three – Bell, Bizzaro and Knighton – coming from the L.A. Galaxy Academy and three – Onuoma, Mota Morfin and Rodriguez – hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area.
A San Francisco native, Kevin Rodriguez starred for the San Francisco Glens Academy. Playing in the 2022 MLS Next Cup, the midfielder led his club to the final of the U-19 tournament and claimed the MVP award. He also played for the West team in the 2022 MLS Next All-Star Game.
From San Diego, Jack Bowers has also lived in Germany, where he played for Fortuna Dusseldorf. Now with the San Diego Surf, he has also played for the Houston Dynamo in MLS Next. Bowers has strong connections to the Cal men’s and women’s soccer Zack Andohteams, as his dad, Ryan, and his aunt, Berkley – both from the Class of 1996 – played for the Golden Bears.
A Portland, Oregon, product, Zach Andoh was born in the Netherlands capital of Amsterdam. He captured an MLS Next Flex group title with the Portland Timbers Academy in 2022. The 6-3 goalie, who has trained with the Portland Timbers II, also won the 2017 Oregon State Cup crown with FC Portland.
A product of Coto de Caza, Brendan Bell competed in the 2022 MLS Next Flex Cup and the 2021 MLS Next playoffs with the Galaxy. Bell more recently played with the Galaxy in the 24th annual Under-17 International Tournament in Lille, France. He comes from a soccer family – his dad, Jonathan, played at Creighton and his uncle, Mike, played at Wisconsin.
Owen Bizzaro, from Long Beach, says the Galaxy Academy beating Lille, the home club, 2-1, in the U-17 International Tournament was his best sports moment. The defender and the Galaxy reached the quarterfinals in France.
Justin Knighton, from Torrance, says one of his best sports moments was scoring against the Manchester United Academy in the Generation Adidas Cup last spring, when the Galaxy Academy named the 5-8 forward its April Player of the Month.
The versatile Wisdom Onuoma, from San Francisco, is a product of the San Francisco Seals, and was born in Aba, Nigeria. He’s played in the Gotha Cup with the Seals, who took third in the Swedish tournament. PrepSoccer.com named him its 2022 most valuable midfielder in the San Francisco section.
Another San Francisco Bay Area native, Giancarlo Mota Morfin hails from Castro Valley. He hopes to major in business administration or nutritional sciences at Cal. A product of the San Jose Earthquakes Academy, Mota Morfin has played for the Earthquakes II in MLS Next Pro.
A second newcomer from Long Beach, Kai Djerbaka captured Surf Cup 2022 with his current club, the San Diego Surf. The central midfielder reached the 2021 ECNL national playoffs with Pateadores Academy, and previously competed with the L.A. Galaxy Academy in the Generation Adidas Cup. Djerbaka also spent time with the youth academy of CE Sabadell FC, a Spanish Second Division club.
The new Bears will join Cal in the fall of 2023.