University of Akron men’s soccer brings in 13 new players for 2019 season
AKRON, Ohio – The University of Akron men’s soccer squad under the leadership of seventh-year head coach Jared Embick, has announced the addition of 13 members to the Zips’ talented 2019 signing class.
Donning the Akron uniform this fall will be Nicolas Alt (Basel, Switzerland), Máni Austmann (Reykjavík, Iceland), Jonathan Boothe (Sugarland, Texas), Joe Bowles (Stratford, England/Jefferson College), Bradley Chick (Cheltenham, Australia), Marko Gasparac (Zagreb, Croatia), Natnael McDonald (Wolayta-Sodo, Ethiopia), Joey Paulus (Hinckley, Ohio), Federico Serra (Cagliari, Italy), Tom Smart (Birmingham, England/New Mexico), Cameron Victor (Olmsted Falls, Ohio), Kai Wagner (Wadsworth, Ohio) and Jaden Wright (Lorain, Ohio).
The 13 new Zips will join a group of four student-athletes who were previously announced to the signing class in January. That group includes; Grant Abbott (Decatur, Ill.), Henrique Cruz (Fortaleza, Brazil), Johnny Fitzgerald(Tallahassee, Fla.) and Will Jackson (Hudson, Ohio).
A midfielder from Basel, Switzerland, Alt helped his BSC Old Boys Basel club team to a trio of Swiss Championships at the junior level. His play then earned him a promotion to the FC Blackstars Basel, which is a third-tier squad in Switzerland.
Embick on Alt – “Nicolas is a talented, direct winger, who has great pace and is dangerous in 1v1 situations. He is a player we need to open up the game.”
A native of Reykjavík, Iceland, Austmann, a forward, gained valuable playing experience with FC Copenhagen, Stjarnan and HK Kópavogur club squads. Has appeared in 21 Úrvalsdeild karla matches en route to netting four goals. Helped his Stjarnan team to a national and cup championship.
Embick on Austmann – “Mani is a skillful, intelligent player, who is very versatile as he can play on the wing or through the middle. He has great technique and can play and combine in tight spaces.”
A native of Sugarland, Texas, Boothe, a forward, garnered valuable playing experience with the Texans SC and Rise SC soccer clubs. In 2017, he was a member of the Olympic Development Program (ODP) Region 3 pool squad.
Embick on Boothe – “Jonathan is another player that brings versatility as he can play out wide with his pace and we can use his strength as a center forward. He is one that has not reached his potential and we look forward to helping bring out his best.”
A native of Stratford, England, Bowles, a goalkeeper is a junior transfer from Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Missouri, where he appeared in 11 contests a year ago and posted a 0.64 goals against average recording 31 saves en route to garnering six shutouts. As a freshman at LSU-Alexandria, he registered a 0.84 goals against average and appeared in eight contests, making 18 saves. He played for Essex County in his native England, who was a four-time winner of the London Cup. Additionally, he competed for Crystal Palace as a youth player.
Embick on Bowles – “Joe has great size and leadership ability. He was a starter for one of the best JUCO teams in the country and we look for him to come in and compete at a high level from day one.”
A native of Melbourne, Australia, Chick, a defender, is a member of the Australian U-18 National Team that will compete at the AAF U-18 Championships this month in Vietnam, before reporting to the Zips. He has garnered valuable playing experience with Melbourne City FC, Melbourne Victory and his state’s U-15 team.
Embick on Chick – “Bradley is a promising defender. He can play as a fullback and center back. I feel he is a great fit as a fullback within our system. He is a very intelligent, great passer and can really help move them team forward from his fullback position.”
A native of Zagreb, Croatia, Gasparac, a midfielder/defender, played for Nk Lokomotivia’s Youth Academy before gaining valuable playing experience with youth and senior men’s squads for Nk Trnje in Croatia. His is a decorated player winning regional and international competitions with his club team, while also garnering numerous all-star team selections.
Embick on Gasparac – “Marko is another skillful, intelligent player, who has the qualities and intangibles to be very successful. He is a good passer and reads the game very well. We think he has a bright future with the Zips.”
A native of Wolayta-Sodo, Ethiopia, McDonald, a defender, is rated No. 111 in the latest IMG Academy 150, played with the Atlanta United FC club team, where he helped the squad capture a United States U-16 championship. He was a member of a state championship squad at Parkview High School in Lilburn, Georgia in 2016 as well as winning a pair of state cups with the Gwinnett Soccer Academy.
Embick on McDonald – “Natnael is a talented defender. It is unfortunate that he will miss his first year as he is injured, but he is one who will have a great future. He is technical and can go box-to-box as a fullback. He has had great success as a youth player and we expect that to continue.”
A native of Hinckley, Ohio, Paulus, a midfielder, has gained valuable playing experience with the Internationals Academy in the United States Development Academy.
Embick on Paulus – “Joey is a very smart player. I love his work rate and ability to positively affect games with his combination of skill and brains. He can help us in the midfield or out wide. He is a player that fits us to a T.”
A native of Cagliari, Italy, Serra, a forward, earned playing experience as a member of the Savona, Cagliari Calcio and Racing Fondi club squads in Italy.
Embick on Serra – “Federico is very creative. He is a player that can contribute goals and assist as he sees the game very well and is a great finisher. He can play out wide or through the middle and we expect him to be a dangerous player for us in the final third.”
A native of Birmingham, England, a defender, is a senior transfer from New Mexico, where he appeared in 54 games, all starts, during his three-year career as a Lobo and recorded eight assists on 26 shots. A year ago, he registered six assists en route to being named a Conference USA Second-Team honoree. He gained valuable experience as prep for the West Bromwich Albion FC squad, while also playing for Northern Ireland in international competition.
Embick on Smart – “Tom has transferred to us from a very good program. He has experience at the college game, is a very good passer, and we feel he can be one of the best defenders in the country.”
A native of Olmsted Falls, Ohio, Victor, a goalkeeper, developed his game playing with the Internationals Academy in the United States Development Academy, where he was a team captain, as well the Team Challenger FC. He has been ranked as high as No. 11 in the Great Lakes Regional rankings, including rising to No. 2 among goalkeepers.
Embick on Victor – “Cam is one of the best incoming goalkeepers in the country. He is a great shot stopper and has very good range. We feel he can develop into an outstanding goalkeeper.”
A native of Wadsworth, Ohio, Wagner, a midfielder, gained valuable playing experience with Wadsworth High School and with Internationals Academy in the United States Development Academy. He was a Midwest Region selection, first-team All-Ohio honoree at Wadsworth. As a senior, he scored 15 goals, while adding seven assists and finished his prep career with 26 goals and 20 assists.
Embick on Wagner – “Kai is an Akron player – very smart and technical. He can play multiple positions and has tremendous work rate. We feel he will only get better and better and excited to see him fulfill his potential as a Zip.”
A native of Lorain, Ohio, Wright, a forward, also earned valuable playing experience with Internationals Academy in the United States Development Academy. A year ago, he recorded six goals appearing in 19 games, including 17 starts. Since 2015, he has netted 26 goals with International Academy.
Embick on Wright – “Jaden is an exciting player, that brings pace and power to our team. He is another player with a lot of growth potential and we feel he could be great player for us. He can potentially play three positions at a high level and has shown that he can create and score goals at the youth level. We would love to see that continue at Akron”
2019 Akron Men’s Soccer Signing Class
Grant Abbott, goalkeeper, Decatur, Ill. (St. Louis FC)
Nicolas Alt, midfielder, Basel, Switzerland (FC Blackstars Basel)
Máni Austmann, forward, Reykjavík, Iceland (HK Kópavogur)
Jonathan Boothe, forward Sugarland, Texas (Texans SC)
Joe Bowles, goalkeeper, Stratford, England (Jefferson College – Mo.)
Bradley Chick, defender, Cheltenham, Australia (Melbourne City FC)
Henrique Cruz, midfielder, Fortaleza, Brazil (St. Benedict’s Prep – N.J.)
Johnny Fitzgerald, midfielder, Tallahassee, Fla. (Barca Academy)
Marko Gasparac, midfielder/defender, Zagreb, Croatia (Nk Trnje)
Will Jackson, forward, Hudson, Ohio (Internationals Academy)
Natnael McDonald, defender, Wolayta-Sodo, Ethiopia (Atlanta United FC)
Joey Paulus, midfielder, Hinckley, Ohio (Internationals Academy)
Federico Serra, forward, Cagliari, Italy (Cagliari Calcio)
Tom Smart, defender, Birmingham, England (New Mexico)
Cameron Victor, goalkeeper, Olmsted Falls, Ohio (Internationals Academy)
Kai Wagner, midfielder, Wadsworth, Ohio (Internationals Academy)
Jaden Wright, forward, Lorain, Ohio (Internationals Academy)