The Charlotte 49ers men’s soccer team enters the 2013 campaign with high expectations after a 2012 season that culminated in a second round loss in the NCAA tournament. The 49ers are returning seven of their eleven starters from a 2012 team that finished with an outstanding overall record of 15-4-3. Charlotte will expect to make another run at the NCAA tournament this season as they enter the year ranked 21st in the preseason NSCAA poll.
49ers head coach Kevin Langan is entering his second season at the helm of the Charlotte program. Langan spent four days at Stanford University during this past offseason watching the professional Italian soccer team Juventus train. Langan got the opportunity to pick the brain of Juventus head coach Antonio Conte, along with the rest of the coaching staff, about their different strategies and philosophies.
“It was truly an inspiring four days,” Langan said. “The coaching staff were very accessible and eager to explain their coaching methods and style of play.”
Langan will be aided this season by the return of several key players from last year’s squad. Tyler Gibson, Klay Davis, Thomas Allen and Giuseppe Gentile were all selected to the All-Atlantic 10 team at the end of last season and all four players will be expected to produce yet again in 2013.
Langan wasn’t the only one gaining some valuable experience this offseason. Gentile, a junior, and senior Tyler Gibson both got a chance to train with Major League Soccer club Sporting KC in July. Gentile also got the chance to train with another Major League Soccer team, the Colorado Rapids.
Gentile and Gibson have both been named to the Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy watch list. The MAC Hermann Trophy is the highest individual award in intercollegiate soccer. This marks the second consecutive year that Gibson has been placed on this list prior to the season beginning.
The 49ers also have a couple of talented incoming freshman with the group being headed by midfielder Brandt Bronico. Bronico is highly touted after playing for the Premier Development League’s (PDL) Carolina Dynamo. Bronico was selected to the PDL’s Eastern Conference All-Conference team.
Fellow incoming freshman Matt Gerrish played in the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships in June with his Triangle United Club team.
Charlotte has scheduled a couple of very intriguing non-conference match-ups to start off their 2013 campaign. The 49ers will battle 17th-ranked Coastal Carolina on the road on Sept. 6. Charlotte will also play 18th-ranked Wake Forest in the comforts of Transamerica Field on Oct. 1.
It should be interesting to watch the 49ers make their transition away from the Atlantic-10 as they begin their first year of play in Conference USA. Charlotte will have a tough battle at the top of the conference against the likes of 20th-ranked New Mexico and also 15th-ranked Tulsa.
The 49ers men’s soccer team should be plenty exciting to watch in this upcoming season. The team will open up the season on the road in Denver, Colorado. Charlotte will face off against the Denver Pioneers on Friday, August 30 at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time.