HOOVER, Ala. — When the College Cup Offensive and Defensive MVP awards were announced on Sunday afternoon, neither raised too many eyebrows.
Georgetown attacker Steve Neumann was named offensive MVP, becoming the first player from the losing team to win the award since 2004. Riding the wave of his Friday night hat trick against Maryland, the College Cup’s first since 1993, Neumann wasn’t given too much competition from Indiana, who scored just two goals on the weekend.
The Defensive MVP was a slam dunk as well, with Indiana senior goalkeeper Luis Soffner becoming the seventh netminder in the past 11 years to earn the award. Soffner was only forced into four saves all weekend, but his game-saving effort against Creighton on Friday night won’t soon be forgotten.
So does winning a College Cup MVP award guarantee professional success? Let’s look back at the past five years of College Cup heroes to find out.
2011 Offensive MVP – Ben Speas (UNC) – Defensive MVP – Isaac Cowles (UNC Charlotte)
Speas signed a Homegrown deal with Columbus after his fantastic College Cup, but was hobbled for much of the year with a sports hernia, though he made his MLS debut starting the Crew’s final regular-season match in 2011.
Cowles played sparingly for the USL Pro’s Charlotte Eagles in 2011.
2010 offensive MVP – Scott Caldwell (Akron) – Defensive MVP – Kofi Sarkodie (Akron)
Finally breaking into Houston’s starting lineup on a full-time basis late in 2012, Sarkodie was a key piece to the Dynamo’s run to MLS Cup scoring his first MLS goal against D.C. United in the Eastern Conference Championship.
Scott Caldwell enjoyed a prolific senior season at Akron in 2012, winning Conference Player of the Year and a spot on the MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist list. He is expected to sign a Homegrown contract with New England this offseason.
2009 offensive MVP – Jonathan Villanueva (Virginia) – Defensive MVP – Diego Restrepo (Virgina)
Neither of these two has made an MLS roster, though Restrepo could certainly be a goalkeeper in the league one day. He chose to try his luck in South America with some success in Colombia and Venezuela with a move to MLS seemingly possible in the future.
2008 offensive MVP – Graham Zusi (Maryland) – Defensive MVP – Omar Gonzalez (Maryland)
What a year and what a team that 2008 Maryland squad had. We probably don’t need to tell you much about these two, but both Zusi (above) and Gonzalez have made MLS Best XI and look to be potential cornerstones of the US national team in the years to come. Seven of the Maryland starting eleven from the championship team were significant MLS contributors in 2012.
2007 offensive MVP – Marcus Tracy (Wake Forest) – Defensive MVP – Brian Edwards (Wake Forest)
We may always be left to wonder “what if?” with the career Marcus Tracy could’ve had. After a prolific career at Wake Forest headlined by the 2008 Hermann Trophy and 2007 National Championship, Tracy chose to go the European route, signing a three-year contract with Danish side Aalborg.
After showing real promise early in his pro career, Tracy has struggled with knee problems for the last couple seasons, culminating in a return stateside to Major League Soccer with the San Jose Earthquakes.
Edwards is an extremely interesting case, as he spent two years with Toronto FC after his college career, but after bouncing around a bit landed with Swedish second division side Degerfors IF. According to their website stats, Edwards starts most matches for the Superettan side.
Of the 10 players we’ve looked at, five are currently in MLS and Caldwell is a shoo-in for a sixth. Only Zusi and Gonzalez would be considered stars, but, on the other hand, only Cowles and Villanueva wouldn’t really be considered as players who made it as full-time pros.