SMU men’s soccer welcomes 12-player signing class for 2021
DALLAS – Head coach Kevin Hudson and his staff announced 12 additions to the SMU men’s soccer roster for the upcoming 2021 fall season. The group, made up of 11 freshmen and one graduate transfer, is ranked 10th in Top Drawer Soccer’s annual recruiting ranking.
“We are thrilled to add this talented group of student-athletes to our roster,” Hudson said. “These young men embody the qualities we look for at SMU. They are gifted players, top students and great people. The credit for this group goes to our Associate Head Coach, Ben Stoddard, whose tireless recruiting efforts continue to deliver top-rated classes.”
While playing to Santa Barbara Soccer Club, Briner helped lead his team to a Cal South National Cup Champion and Far West Regionals Champion in 2018. Briner then went on gain international experience, playing with Ribarroja C.F. in Valencia, Spain.
The California native was a four-sport athlete in high school, also playing basketball, football and lacrosse. Briner joins a line of collegiate athletes as his dad, Aaron, played soccer and mom, Sharon, played basketball at Southern California College.
Briner was attracted to SMU because he felt it would challenge him and offer the right environment to continue growth on and off the field. He has two brothers, Anthony and Elijah, and two sisters, Taylor and Jordan.
Hudson on Briner: “Isaac has the physical profile to become a top goalkeeper in college. He is tall, commanding, and a good shot stopper. His international experience will be valuable as he continues to develop here at SMU.”
Carlson served as a captain for the Chattanooga Red Wolves’ U19 team and was one of the two players selected to train with Chattanooga FC (USL) during his club years.
Carlson was a two-year letter winner at McCallie in Chattanooga, Tennessee. During his two seasons with the team, the defender scored 11 goals and tallied 16 assists. He was a named two-time All-District, two-time All-Region, two-time All-State and two-time best of preps selection. Carlson helped his team to a No. 7 national ranking and State Championship in 2019 and state semifinal finish in 2021.
SMU stood out to Carlson as a great school with an elite program and he enjoys spending time with his teammates. Carlson has two siblings, a brother named Sykes and sister named Lelia, and his parents are Donie and Ken.
Hudson on Carlson: “Neal is a defender with the technical ability and intangibles to play at the top level. His competitiveness and winning mentality make him a great fit for our program.”
Before joining the Mustangs, Pinho played for Rot-Weiss Walldorf, FSV Frankfurt and Eintracht Frankfurt in his home country of Germany. Pinho was the club captain while starting over 50 games during his final 2 seasons. He chose Hilltop over many other programs because SMU offered a great soccer program, great academics and a great location.
The defender started playing at the age of four and enjoys spending time with friends, sleeping and traveling during his free time. Pinho has one brother, Luan Luca Chambron Pinho, and one sister, Mike Soe. His parents are Nicole Chambron and Fabiano dos Santos Pinho.
Hudson on Chambron Pinho: “Kyran is an athletic and powerful outside back. He has the physical and technical attributes to provide an attacking threat from defense. His quickness and creativity will be a great addition to our team.”
Over four years at Westwood High School, Djordjevic helped lead his team to two District Runner-Up finishes and two District Championships. From his freshman through junior year, the midfielder scored 39 goals while tallying 40 assists and was named First Team All-Region each year. Other accolades for Djordjevic include a District Overall MVP as a sophomore and District Offensive MVP as a junior.
Djordjevic saw action as a club player with Capital City SC. He chose to join the Mustangs due to great academic opportunities and a top soccer program. His parents are Maria Nino-Gil and Jaksa Djordjevic and one brother, Diego.
Hudson on Djordjevic: “Niko is a creative attacking midfielder who has the ability to play wide too. He’s an aggressive dribbler who can unbalance an opposition’s backline. We are excited to see Niko’s creativity and playmaking at SMU this fall.”
Easton played club soccer with FC Dallas Academy, where he was the team captain and starting centerback for the U-19s. Grady was a first-team preseason call-up and earned 2 starts with North Texas SC (USL) during his time at FC Dallas.
Easton joins his parents as a collegiate athlete as his father, Sean, swam at UCLA and his mother, Michelle, swam for one year at SMU. The defender chose to come to the Hilltop because of a combination of great academics, the great sports program and campus.
Hudson on Easton: “Grady is a polished central defender. He is an excellent passer who is very comfortable in possession. He’s strong in the air and reads the game well. We are excited to see what Grady can add to our team this fall.”
Guerra played for San Jose Earthquakes Academy and Ballistic United. The goalkeeper debuted with the Earthquakes U19’s at 15 years old with a 3-0 shutout win. He then started more than 75 percent of the games with the Earthquakes U17s and U19s, before moving on to Ballistic United.
While playing Varsity during his freshman year at Acalanes, Guerra was part of the 2017 Varsity NCS District Championship team.
The California native has two sisters, Marian and Marisa, and his parents are Valeria and Alberto.
Hudson on Guerra: “Marcelo is a quick and explosive goalkeeper. He’s an excellent shot stopper and he possesses excellent feet that will surely assist in how the team builds the attack from the back.”
Hunt scored 30 goals and added 24 assists while playing in 65 games during his four years at St. Mark’s. He helped lead his team to a 2020 State Championship and earned multiple honors during his high school years, including First Team All-Conference in both 2020 and 2021 and First Team All-North Zone in 2019.
Hunt played for FC Dallas Premier, where he helped lead his team to multiple state championships, regionals and national tournaments over the last 4 seasons.
Hunt is excited to stay in his hometown and joins a family tradition by becoming a Mustang as his dad, Clark, was captain of the SMU men’s soccer program and his sister, Gracie, also graduated from the Hilltop. He has another sister, Ava, and his mother is Tavia.
Hudson on Hunt: “Knobel is a versatile defender who possesses a great blend of technical ability and competitiveness. We’ve tracked his development for several years and he continues to grow as a player. His outstanding work rate always stands out in training and games.”
Jordan saw action at the club level with Solar Soccer Club, where he helped lead his team to the 2020-21 MLS Next U-19 Final and a U-17 DA National Championship in 2018-19. The midfielder chose to stay in the metroplex because of SMU’s beautiful campus, great coaching staff that will help him get to the next level, and the team’s chemistry and family-like feeling.
His parents are Tamara and Jon Paul and he has three younger siblings, a brother named Joshua and two sisters named Kathryn and Elizabeth.
Hudson on Jordan: “We believe JP is one of the top defensive midfielders in 2021 class. He is calm on the ball and covers a tremendous amount of ground. What truly sets JP apart from the competition is his ability to recover the ball. We are looking forward to seeing how JP can add to our team this fall.”
In four years of action with Liberty High School, Koch was named Defensive MVP, First Team All-League and First Team All-City from 2018-21. He also earned First Team All-State and the Gazette Player of the Year for the 2020-21 season while earning the prestigious Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year honor.
Koch played club soccer with Pride Predators ECNL and served as captain as they placed first in the Mountain Conference in 2020. He was listed as an ECNL Player to Watch from 2019-21 as he helped his team to a State Championship in 2021 and runner up spot in 2019.
Koch got started playing at three when his dad was coaching him and enjoys being outdoors and hanging out with his friends. The Colorado native’s parents are Anne and Ted and he has two sisters, Kathryn and Sarah and one twin brother, Theo.
Hudson on Koch: “Jeff is an intelligent central defender who never backs down from a duel. He is a vocal leader who reads the game well. We believe he will continue to develop at SMU and can play a big role on the Hilltop.”
Sparks brings both national and international experience with him to the Hilltop after receiving three caps as part of the 2019 U17 Youth National US Team and playing in the 2018 Futsal World Tournament in Barcelona, Spain. With Solar Soccer Club, Sparks helped the team to a U17 DA National Championship in 2019, while being awarded Player of the Tournament honors.
In 2019, Sparks was selected to the United Soccer Coaches All-American Team and was an All-South Region selection. Following that season, Sparks went on to play for Sporting Kansas City’s Academy Sporting Kansas City 2 (USL).
Sparks started playing soccer at five because he wanted to play with his older brothers and loves to travel and spend time at the beach. He has three brothers, Brooks, Tucker and Riley, and his parents are Tracey and Robert.
Hudson on Sparks: “Bailey is one of the top attacking talents in the 2021 class. He’s creative and clever in the final third. He has the ability to create goals on his own or assist teammates. We are excited to see how he can add to our attack this fall.”
Westergren joins the Mustangs after spending his youth playing for Brondby IF, one of the biggest professional clubs in Denmark. Westergren was an integral part of his age groups success playing a consistent role in the backline.
The defender was attracted to SMU for its elite soccer program, great coaches and staff and a prestigious education. Westergren has one brother, Peter, and his parents are Trine and Jens.
Hudson on Westergren: “Mads is a composed and confident central defender. He’s very calm on the ball and can start the attack from the back line. He reads the game well and is brave in the tackle. We believe Mads can be a top defender at SMU.”
Over four seasons at Trinity, van der Lee played in 68 games with 54 starts and scored 14 goals, including five game-winners, while adding 14 assists. As a sophomore and junior, the midfielder was named to the United Soccer Coaches All-America Third Team, United Soccer Coaches All-Region First Team twice, All-SCAC First Team three times and All-SCAC Tournament team. As a three-time team captain, van der Lee helped Trinity reach the NCAA Tournament twice.
Before playing at Trinity, the New York native lettered for four years at Berkshire School in Sheffield, Massachusetts and played club soccer at Black Rock FC.
Hudson on van der Lee: “Quentin joins us after a standout career at Trinity. He possesses a great mix of tough defending and composed passing from the midfield. He understands how to win in college and his experience will benefit our team this fall.”