Manley's Blog

Intro to 2010

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on August 10, 2010

Yes indeed, it’s almost that time again. I hope everyone enjoyed/is enjoying their summer because we’re only six days away from the first day of preseason practice. To get the ball rolling, I put together a sort of offseason notebook that you can read by clicking here.

If you don’t want to sift through the whole thing, here are the nuts and bolts, as well as some additional thoughts:

– CBA’s Scott Thomsen is out for the season with a torn ACL, which he suffered while playing for his club team, PDA, in April, according to CBA assistant Jeff Matson. Matson said the timetable was nine months from April and that there is no chance the team jeopardizes his health by playing him late in the year if he’s feeling up to it.

– Official word came over the summer that not only is Sean Davis – the top college prospect in this year’s senior class, according to topdrawersoccer.com – not playing for Holmdel high school this season, but neither are Dan Metzger or Rishi Desai. Metzger is rated as the No. 31 recruit in this year’s class, while Desai, at times, was as good or better than Metzger in the midfield. According to Holmdel coach John Nacarlo, Davis committed to Duke and Metzger to Maryland, while Desai still narrowed his list of options. This is obviously a blow to Holmdel’s SCT and state title chances and to be honest, I was looking forward to seeing what kind of havoc that team – particularly Davis – could wreak upon the rest of the state. I talked a number of people who talked to Davis and people that know him, and every indication was that he wanted to play high school ball this year. I’ll find out from Sean himself in the coming days, but it sounds like the people advising him – as well as Metzger and Desai for that matter – convinced him that playing with the Hornets this fall was too much of an injury risk.

– Consider this: If you were to list the top player of the year candidates for 2010 shortly after the 2009 season – with the assumption that Thomsen, Decker, Davis and Metzger would all be playing – four of those five players who have pulled out of the 2010 season for one reason or another would likely have cracked the top five candidates. You have to give Toms River South’s Steve Petrosino a good shot after an All-Shore year last year, but it’s hard to find anyone else on the level of those four players.

– This may not be the end of it. There are plenty of other club players out there who could decide in the coming days and weeks that playing the high school season is not in their best interest. Colts Neck coach Art Collier said he believes he will have junior midfielder Ross Tetro on board this season, as well as his younger brother Brandon, who will be a freshman. However, Tetro sat out his freshman year of high school ball before debuting as a sophomore last year and he also plays on the New York Red Bulls, the same club team on which Davis plays. There isn’t necessarily a link between the decisions of one player or another, but if the Red Bulls advise their players uniformly, some more players could pull out of the high school game in the next few years, if not sooner.

Summer League Musings

I got a chance to see some summer league action over the last three weeks and here are some thoughts about what I saw:

– I came into the summer thinking Howell was the front-runner in A North, but after seeing what Freehold Township has, I’m not so sure. The Patriots have some really good high-end talent in Ryan Morris and Matt Jeffrey, as well as a proven keeper in Phil Horan. Kingley Innocent has impressed this summer after playing a part-time roll last year and with his athleticism, he’s a candidate to have the kind of breakout year that Anthony Fiorletti had for the Pats last year. That might be a little ambitious and it would also mean he’d have to win the center midfield job, but at the very least, he’ll be a key piece for Township.

– Howell ain’t too shabby either. They have 10 starters back from last year and while their top talent may be slightly behind that of Freehold Township, they are a cohesive group and have talent 1-through-11. Ozzie Onder should have another good year putting the ball in the net and midfielder Kyle Dougher and defender Rob Hart anchor each level of the formation. The coaching staff has also had good things to say about its incoming freshman, particularly Kevin Kappock, the younger brother of former All Shore defender Billy Kappock, who is currently at Temple University.

– Toms River South was at it again when I saw them play Manalapan. The team that reinvented the comeback during its state title run last year scored four goals in five minutes to beat the Braves 5-4 after entering the final five minutes trialing 4-1. They are just a relentless bunch and as long as they don’t get the championship hangover, they’re going to break some hearts again this year.

With that said, I liked what I saw out of Manalapan. The team relied a lot more on skill than physicality last year and it just seemed like they weren’t ready for it. For most of the game against TRS, Manalapan looked pretty sharp with the ball and they have added some size with a year to grow. More than the size though, the year of experience should help them out a lot. I expect the Braves to bounce back in a big way this year, which means the A North could be almost as tough as it was last year, even without Colts Neck.

– Two teams that surprised me with how good they looked were Monsignor Donovan and Holmdel. Donovan lost some serious talent from last year, but I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that the reinforcements are ready. They’ve been good forever, or at least it seems that way. Holmdel meanwhile, still has a lot of good players, even without the three D-I kids.

– A couple teams I’ve heard good things about are Barnegat and Wall, one of which might be a surprise and the other which is most certainly not. Barnegat made some strides last year, finishing just under .500 at 8-9 and winning its first ever postseason game, so the next step would be to crack the top half of the division. With Lacey and Brick now in B South, doing so won’t be easy, but it’s certainly not impossible. Wall has a lot back and I expect them to be the prohibitive favorite in C Central, although I also like what Point Boro has. Still, they gave Freehold Township a tough game and with a little bit more luck in the health department this year, they could be serious contenders for some postseason hardware.

That’s all for now. The Bey Lea Tournament in Toms River is this weekend, so I’ll have some details on that over the next couple of days, as well as some tidbits from the showcase. Next week, I’ll start with some feature stories for the preseason, which will lead up to the previews and top 10 as we approach and enter the month of September.

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