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Future Focus: A new Penn Quaker, Jonny Dolezal

Posted on 10 March 2010 by Breton Bonnette

Something must be in the water out there in Lower Merion. Between last Future Focus Tolani Ibikunle and our feature today, Jonathan Dolezal, there’s a lot of talent coming out of that area.

Dolezal, central defender by trade, is set to stay in the area to play for Coach Rudy Fuller at the University of Pennsylvania in the Fall. A senior at Lower Merion HS this year and a key part of his club squad, the Lower Merion Velez, the 18-year old has made the most of his four years and he’s earned the accolades to prove it (recently named Pennsylvania’s “State Top Player” at defender). His years of experience don’t mask the truth, however. “One can always get better”. That advice is what Jonny lives by and that’s saying a lot from a soon-to-be college freshman who has traveled to and played in Costa Rica, England, South Africa and Germany all for the possibilities of “getting better”. Now off to University City he goes, firmly with the vision of becoming a solid NCAA defender a future professional and knowing full well that there might be someone extra watching in those stands come gameday. 

Lower Merion Velez

You’ll be staying relatively local this Fall, what made you decide on that? What other schools were after you?

I have always loved Philly and I knew that if I chose Penn, I would be able to experience both the city scene as well as still being close to home. All the schools I was looking at I liked, but the combination of the academics and the soccer at Penn I thought was the best fit for me. Other schools that I was looking at were Boston University, American University, Georgetown University, and Virginia Tech.

There have been several professionals – namely Alex Grendi and Danny Cepero – to come out of UPenn over the past couple years. Is this an aspiration that you find realistic? What is it about the Penn program that attracted you to Rhodes Field?

Penn is a phenomenal academic school and this definitely had a major impact on my decision. Becoming a professional has always been a dream for me, yet I know that if I do not turn professional in soccer that Penn will have prepared me to enter the world with a top-notch education. I felt that Penn was the best fit for me, and I felt very felt comfortable with Coach [Rudy] Fuller and Coach [Robert] Irvine and knew that I would enjoy playing for them in my fours of college.

What would you say were your strengths as a central defender? Weaknesses?

Strengths: Overall tactical defending, communication to others around me, strong in the air both offensively and defensively, good long driven ball, game-fitness
Weaknesses: Physical strength, technical abilities

What are your goals heading into your first year at the University of Pennsylvania and under Rudy Fuller?

I would like to contribute substantially to the program as a freshman and make an impact where Rudy won’t hesitate to put me in the game or start me.

Have you been keeping track of the Philadelphia Union? What are you most excited about in their first year?

I’m most excited to see Danny Mwanga play, as he is a young player who looks to have a ton of promise. I can’t wait to see how he will develop in his first year in the MLS. I am one of the many people who have been dying to have a professional team to root for at home and can’t wait for their season to begin.

You’ve had some pretty amazing experiences between Lower Merion Velez and your high school squad, what would rank at the top?

First off, one of the best decisions of my life was to stay with club soccer rather than play academy because it gave me the opportunity to stay with ODP and go on one of the best soccer trips of my life with Region 1 to South Africa. My club experience helped me develop as a player in order to make region 1 and with my club team I have had some great experiences. With Lower Merion Velez it would have to be tying Chelsea’s youth team at the Disney Showcase or going to Nationals back to back years. For high school it would have to be beating nationally ranked St. Benedict’s with 5 starters missing and scoring in that game or assisting in a miracle goal to send a district playoff game into OT with 1.3 seconds left.

You and Tolani are good friends. All in good fun, are there any friendly wagers on your college soccer careers? You were the one to introduce Tolani to Lower Merion Velez, should you get royalties if he makes it professionally?

Hah. I taught him everything he knows (just kidding). I don’t want to get into any trouble with the NCAA or anything like that by making wagers haha but one of my dreams is to have the opportunity to play with Tolani on a professional team or play against him during my four years of college. I would love to play him in the NCAA tournament especially. And, yes, he will owe me royalties if he makes it professionally (haha). I hope that one day he will make it because I believe he has the talent to do so.

Growing up, what made you decide soccer was the sport you wanted to excel in?

I loved it from day 1. I began playing when I was about 6 years old and have never thought about not playing since. I possessed natural ability that allowed for me to excel and I have always enjoyed it.

How do you think the Union will do in their first year?

I think the Union will probably have a difficult start with so many young and less experienced players. I think that they may have some trouble with the more experienced teams in the league, but they have great potential down the road with so many young studs and a great coach in Peter Nowak.

The Union have recently signed affiliation deals with the Harrisburg City Islanders (USL-2) and Reading United AC (PDL). Have you had any thought about playing with Reading AC in between seasons and using these “levels” as a step towards the pro ranks?

Whatever I do in the offseason are things that I would have to discuss with my coaches. Whatever being the best for me, Reading or the Islanders or sticking with my club team, I’d certainly try to do in the offseason, but for now I have a goal to make it to nationals this summer and hopefully come back with a trophy.

Quick Kicks

Favorite club team?

Chelsea

Best striker you’ve ever had to play against?

Frank Nouble (played for Chelsea Youth at Disney Showcase)

ASN Philly Note: Nouble (18 years-old) now plies his trade for West Ham United, the same club that developed stars Frank Lampard and Kieron Dyer, after spending several years in the Chelsea youth academy (where Jonny got the chance to mark him). He has seen the pitch for the first-team but most recently spend loan time with W.B.A. of the English Championship.  

Best advice you’ve ever been given?

“You can always get better”

Who is the best player in the world at your position right now?

Fabio Cannavaro

World Cup winner?

Spain

Union player you are most excited to see in action?

Danny Mwanga

What are you most looking forward to about living in Philly?

I can come home whenever I want and I can still have my mom do my laundry (haha).

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Future Focus: Lower Merion’s best Tolani Ibikunle

Posted on 21 February 2010 by Breton Bonnette

We started our Future Focus feature with a South Jersey star in Alec Golini and this week we want to head across the bridge to Lower Merion (stomping grounds of Kobe Bryant) to meet St. Joseph Prep’s Tolani Ibikunle.  We had to be pretty brief because Tolani is now in the Rainbow Nation with his club team, Lower Merion Velez. Tolani might not have an All-American award to his name but his presence is certainly known in the Philadelphia metro area. The 17-year old midfielder lit up the high school scene enough that Jay Vidovich and Wake Forest came calling making him part of one of the best recruiting classes of 2010. Playing for the Demon Deacons has been a dream for Tolani since arriving in Lower Merion and though there were ups and downs and undoubtedly some naysayers, he will enter one of the best NCAA soccer programs of the past decade in August.

If you want video proof of Tolani’s skills – check out any of these videos and look for #12. Go here and click on the Disney College Showcase and the first game vs. Beachside. Head to the 6:40 mark and 8:40 mark for a good look at his strengths. Most importantly, keep an eye out for Tolani as he takes that big next step.

Your family has moved around over the years, how has that affected your soccer development?

I’m originally from Montclair, New Jersey and I used to play for the Montclair Blast. When I moved to Lower Merion however, my soccer career really took off. It started when my best friend Jonny brought me to one of his Lower Merion Velez practices. Ever since that day, the level of my game has increased drastically. Various soccer coaches in the Philadelphia area have helped me over the years. My ODP coaches Mike Gorni and Mr. Krantz, my Lower Merion Velez coach Miguel Nuila, my Saint Joseph’s Prep coaches Mr. Murray, Mike Fanning, Coach Blaire, and Mr. Mendez.

Have you been keeping track of the Philadelphia Union?

I have not been keeping close track of the Philadelphia Union, but I look forward to following them when their first season begins.

You are heading off to Wake Forest in the fall, have you spoken much with Coach Vidovich?

I have talked to Coach Vidovich a good amount, and I cannot wait to get down to Wake Forest to play for him.

What does it mean to you to be playing for arguably the best program of the last decade or so?

It is an honor and an accomplishment to be playing for Wake Forest. I saw them playing my freshman year and told my teammates that that’s where I would be playing. Not very many people believed in me but it’s where I’m headed next year so I’m very proud. I am very excited to get to North Carolina and play for them.

What’s it going to take for you to make an impression at Wake Forest? Did you talk to any of the guys currently playing there before making your decision?

It’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication to make a good impression at Wake Forest. It is going to take a good deal of mental and physical preparation. I talked a bit to older players such as Daniel Wenzel, Ike Opara, and Corbin Bone, before making my decision.

What other schools were after you? What were your reasons for turning them down?

Georgetown, Virginia Tech, UPenn, Brown, and Boston University were all looking for me. I turned them down to play for my dream school, Wake Forest.

Any aspirations to suit up for the Union some day? Or being from Montclair, NJ, do your loyalties lie with the Red Bulls?

It would be great for play for the Philadelphia Union or the New York Red Bulls but ultimately I would love to go professional overseas.

What would
you say your strengths are as a player? And your weaknesses?

My strengths are my speed, my first touch, and my driven balls. My weaknesses include my overall fitness and keeping my composure.

You’ve been busy between St. Joseph’s Prep and Lower Merion Velez, what has been your favorite moment so far?

My favorite moment was making it to Nationals for the second time in a row with the Lower Merion Velez. My favorite moment on the Prep team was my first goal on varsity sophomore year.

What’s your favorite thing about the game of soccer?

My favorite thing about soccer is having fun.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In five years, I see myself playing pro in Europe somewhere.

Quick Kicks

You have a 3 vs. 3 match-up coming up, which two professional players would you pick as your teammates? Why?

I would play with Didier Drogba and Kaka. Didier Drogba is one of my favorite players and Kaka is one of the most amazing players I’ve ever seen play.

The best defender in the world right now (i.e. defender you would least like to go up against?)?

I would have to say that the best defender in the world right now is Carlos Puyol.

Being of Nigerian descent, who is the best Nigerian player at this moment?

Peter Osaze Odemwingie

ASN Philly Note: Odemwingie made his name with Lille of Ligue One and now plays striker for Lokomotiv Moscow of the Russian Premier Division. He played a big part as Nigeria’s only overage player at their silver medal showing at the  2008 Beijing Olympics. Interestingly enough, Odemwingie was actually born in Uzbekistan (then part of the Soviet Union) and opted to play for Nigeria over Russia.

Favorite club team?

Chelsea

Which league suits your style of play right now? Ultimately, would you rather play here or abroad?

I would ultimately rather play abroad, in the La Liga.

Best advice you have ever been given?

The best advice I have ever been given is to have fun.

Thanks for taking the time Tolani and enjoy South Africa! We will add you to our list of future prospects to watch out for and check in later.

If you like the Future Focus feature, check out our first installment with Rancocas Valley’s Alec Golini.

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Future Focus: South Jersey’s own All-American Alec Golini

Posted on 11 February 2010 by Breton Bonnette

If there’s one person that knows the future matters, it’s Coach Piotr Nowak. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have gone out and drafted himself two 18 year olds and a high schooler who has yet to graduate. One thing is certain, though, this country – and more specifically the Philadelphia metro region – is chock full of talent that has yet to be realized, discovered, and/or appreciated. ASN Philly wanted to at least spend some time introducing you, while we have this space to do so, to the talent that graces this area and may or may not go unnoticed.

First on the list is NSCAA High School All-American Alec Golini. A senior from Rancocas Valley Regional High School in Mount Holly, NJ, Golini is yet another product of a brilliant soccer-talent factory led by Head Coach Damon Petras. Consider these names: Byron Carmichael (drafted by the Kansas City Wizards a while back), Ryan Finley (current US U-20s and Duke striker) and add to that a long line of Division I NCAA contributors and you’ve got yourself a hotbed of youth soccer right here in South Jersey. Add to that FC Delco and many other youth clubs and it’s one of the best areas in the nation, hands down. Alec hasn’t seen that national team attention yet but he was one of two NJ All-Americans this season and he took home South Jersey player of the year (an award that generally is indicative of future soccer success!). Golini, clearly with his head on his shoulders, will take his impeccable ball control and vision on the pitch to the Lafayette Leopards next season and hopefully we can get updates of his journey…

There seems to be a real Rancocas Valley prospect machine – with Byron Carmichael, Ryan Finley, Blake Fink, and many others who have made their way out of your area. All have had or will potentially have shots at a professional career – what do you attribute that to?

I have had the opportunity and privilege of playing along side some of the best talent South Jersey has ever seen. Playing with the likes of Stephen Macurdy (Lafayette), Luke Calvano (Lafayette), Blake Fink (Lafayette) and Ryan Finley (Duke) have shaped me into the player I am today. Having played with so many phenomenal players, the bar is set very high for the next person in line so to speak – meaning that each player’s accomplishments are a goal to be broken by the next. This way, each player strives to play at the highest level and the highest rate, challenging them to raise the bar that was set by a preceding player. Attributing to this attitude, the Rancocas Valley Soccer Program is one that is well-known, respected, and dedicated to a winning tradition that demands the most out of its players. Obviously, the system has paid off.

Do you talk to many of the alumni, especially those like Ryan and Blake who are currently playing at Division I schools?

Because I had the opportunity to play with players like Macurdy, Calvano, Fink, and Finley spanning from my freshmen to junior seasons at Rancocas Valley, I’ve become very close to each individual. I am in contact with every single one of them – obviously it is easier for me to catch up with the Lafayette guys being that I constantly visit my future college, but we are all very close. It is great to have that relationship with players who I can look to as role models and models of success that have gone on to play at the next level, Division I soccer.

Who has been the most influential in shaping you as a player?

This one is a tough question for me. That’s because there’s a long list of individuals who have had a great impact on me as a player and a student of the game – I certainly wish I could name them all. But there are two people who really stand out in my mind as having the most influence on who I am as a player. The first is Dennis Ludwig, National All-American at Rutgers University, who was my coach for several years and a very close friend of mine. Dennis truly aided my growth as a player and taught me what I needed to learn about the game, in order to play at the next level, and improve as a player. The second individual, is my dad, Jim Golini. My dad has had the most influence on me as a person and a player out of anyone on any list I may put together – ever since I was young playing U8 until the very last game of my high school career, I can’t remember a day when there wasn’t a discussion of soccer, something I could tweak in my game, or a pregame email, text, or phone call that reminded me of a high level of work rate, consistency, and to play like I’ve got something to prove. And to top it all – out of the hundreds of games I’ve played in my soccer career, there’s rarely been a day when my dad has been absent from the sideline.

The Barons youth system seems to have developed a lot of talent over the past several years as well, what was it like with that experience?

The Barons youth system focuses on a system of tactics, fundamentals, and respect and knowledge of the game. My experience as a Baron really set the mold for who I would be as a player and gave me the tools to really develop into an all around player. The club taught me a style and side of the game that fit me well, and helped me transition and prepare for collegiate soccer.

The Barons have always had a great connection with Reading of the English Championship, can you explain to us what goes into that relationship? Trips, coaching, etc.

One of the greatest things about playing for the Barons over the years was having the affiliation with the Reading Football Club of England. This relationship brought coaches, equipment, and techniques to the Barons organization that truly benefitted the youth academy and its players. I was actually lucky enough to partake on two trips abroad to England sponsored by the Barons. My first trip was a team trip in which we played local clubs of the Reading area, including Reading’s own youth teams. My second trip was an individually focussed trip in which a few players including myself had the privilege of training and practicing with the Reading Football Club Youth Academy for one week. This experience was one I’ll certainly never forget, and was a great part of being in the Baron’s Youth Academy.

What made you choose Lafayette? What other schools were looking at you?

I chose Lafayette because I was extremely comfortable with the atmosphere both academically and athletically, and really liked the coaching staff, the players, and the goals the soccer program wishes to pursue in the coming years. I am really excited about being part of such great tradition and joining a group of players that I’m certain will allow for the best athletic experience. My choice was made easier by the fact that there are three or four players on the roster that had graduated from Rancocas Valley, all of whom I have played with. Other schools I had considered and were looking at me were Villanova, University of Delaware, and University of Massachusetts. In the end, I’m extremely happy with my decision, and I cannot wait to be part of Lafayette’s program.

You were named an NSCAA All-American this season, deservedly so. How does it feel to get that national recognition? And heading into Lafayette, what would you like to accomplish in your first season?

I was extremely honored to have received NSCAA All-American following my senior season at Rancocas Valley. It was a great feeling to know that the time and effort put in to improve my game and be the best player possible, finally paid off. It’s awesome to know that you’ve been recognized as a player for putting in all the work and stepping on the field and being the best player you can be day in and day out. As for Lafayette – I’m really looking forward to being part of a sound tradition and hopefully contributing to the team’s success and bid for a Patriot League title. It would be awesome to win the league in my first season, and knowing I played a part in that would be something special.

Have you been watching the development of the Philadelphia Union so far? What do you think their chances are in their inaugural season?

Yes, I’ve been following the Union and I’m pretty excited about their first season. I’ve heard and read a lot about how high ticket sales are, and that’s very promising for a new team. Hopefully, with all the momentum and hype, they won’t disappoint in their first season. Philadelphia is an atmosphere that demands success, but at the same time, they have passionate fans that are sure to usher in a great era of soccer in Philadelphia.

What would you say your strengths are as a player? Weaknesses?

I feel as though my strengths as a player are my quickness and speed, whether it is speed of play, getting to the ball, or just overall quickness. A couple other strengths would be my aggressiveness, competitiveness and desire to win, my vision of the field, and my knowledge of the game as a leader. Each of those attributes has helped me get to where I want to be today as a player. My weakness: I tend to expect every single player to play at the same level and at the same rate as myself.

Quick Kicks

Best Defender you have gone up against?

My own teammate in both high school and club, Terrell White.

What Major League Soccer player are you most excited to see come and play in Philadelphia?

Fredy Montero

There’s a 3 vs. 3 match coming up and you can pick anyone? Who are your teammates?

Two teammates: Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard

Favorite club team?

Manchester United

Who wins the Premiership this season?

The usual two-horse race: it’s between Manchester United and Chelsea. Hopefuly Man U can pull it out.

Best player in the country at your position? World?

Country: Midfielder Clint Dempsey; World: Center Midfielder Steven Gerrard or Xavi.

Best advice you have ever been given?

“Act like you’ve been there before.” and “Always look for opportunities to do great things.” – My Dad, Jim Golini

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MLS Combine: Villanova’s Michael Seamon

Posted on 06 January 2010 by Breton Bonnette

The City of Philadelphia seems to rub off on people in a positive way if given the proper chance. Most people I know will have one bad experience with a city and then spend the rest of their life bad-mouthing it. Those that spend their college years here get that four years, however, and warm up to the place. Mike Seamon, Villanova Wildcat attacker and 2010 MLS Combine participant, is an example of just that. A North Jersey high school soccer standout who traveled to the Main Line to play for the Wildcats, enjoyed the city enough to test his New York Red Bulls loyalty while forging an opportunity to play in the professional ranks. Voted 1st team Big East this season in a tough conference, Seamon’s five goals and seven assists led the Wildcats. It was the fourth time in his career that he has led the team in scoring, a testament to his value in the Villanova squad. He will play on Team Predator X.

ASN Philly caught up with Mike quickly before he was off to Fort Lauderdale to make his case known at the 2010 MLS Combine. 

You’re North Jersey born but you’ve spent the last four years leading Villanova of the Main Line. So where do your loyalties lie? Red Bulls or Union?

Of course I feel strongly towards the Red Bulls and would love to get the chance to play for them but Villanova has been great to me and I have enjoyed my time here so much that playing in Philadelphia would really make me feel at home just as much as it would to play for Red Bull.

You have earned second and third team All-Big East honors the past couple years but you really stepped things up in your senior year. What did you do differently? Where did you improve?

The thing that improved mostly was my work ethic in practice. Because of the work ethic that myself and many of my teammates had throughout preseason and the regular season really prepared me better for the games.

How do you feel the season ended up?

The season ended on a low for us. We got knocked out of the Big East tournament after having the lead the whole game against Providence. After some time off and to think about how we did, the fact that we finished 4th on our side of the bracket and potentially could have finished higher was a big deal for our program. Every year I have been here we have been getting better and I’m sure that will continue.

What are your expectations heading into the Combine?

I don’t really have to many expectations going in to the combine. My main goal is to go in there and just try to play my game and hope some of the scouts like the way I play.

What are your biggest strengths, qualities that MLS coaches should pay attention to?

My biggest strength would have to be my versatility and ability to play different positions effectively.

NOTE: Since Mike’s modest – to quote college soccer guru and Pro Player Pipeline blogger Joe Mauceri, “The best player on Villanova is senior forward Mike Seamon.  He has professional potential.  His dribbling, vision, passing is outstanding.  The problem is that he doesn’t have enough support.  For example, in the 70th minute, he flipped a pass to junior midfielder Sean Mergenthal behind the defense in the box. Mergenthal’s volley was off target”

What are your plans from now until the Combine?

My plans are to try to just stay in the best possible shape I can. The worst case scenario would be that I am tired 10 minutes into the first game. Once your tired, every aspect of your game gets worse.

If things don’t go as planned at the Combine, what will you do next? Any thoughts of abroad?

Abroad would definitely be an afterthought. I don’t really want to think about it to much unless things really don’t work out in the MLS.

Have you been following the development of the Union? What’s your take on it all?

The Union look like they have made some good moves. It seems like the staff they have implemented knows exactly what they are doing and have taken the proper steps to create a winning environment.

Quickfire:

Toughest defender you have ever gone up against?

Julius James (UCONN) [NOTE: the same Julius James that plays for DC United down the road]

Best place to go in Philly?

Main Line Bars like Maloney’s and Kelly’s. I also enjoy PJ Henry’s in Ardmore.

Best player in the world at your position?

Cristiano Ronaldo

Teammate to watch out for? Which one will be in your shoes one day?

Chris Christian [soon to be senior defender from North Jersey, “strong and steady”], Kevin Garcia [a versatile defender, soon to be junior who contributed a lot in 2009]

Best memory as a Wildcat?

Upsetting #1 Duke.

3v3 game, pick your two ideal teammates…

Nick Whipple (Wesleyan’s tri-captain this season, leading them to their highest finish ever in the NCAA tournament) and Sergio Munoz (Farleigh Dickinson, creative midfielder from Linden, NJ). Both played club soccer with me for Ironbound Warriors.

We’ll keep an eye out for how Seamon does on the 8th. Mike, thanks for taking the time and we look forward to catching up with you in the future.

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MLS Combine: Penn State’s Yeisley set to continue making a difference

Posted on 21 December 2009 by Breton Bonnette

ASN Philly is going to be at the MLS SuperDraft in mid-January so we figured we’d begin our coverage with several informal “sit-downs” with local MLS combine participants.

Jason Yeisley is probably one of the most under the radar players taking part in the Combine having struggled with injuries during his years at Penn State in Happy Valley. He stayed the course and excelled in his last season, however, winning the honor of Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year as well as a nod as candidate for Soccer America’s Player of the Year award. His injury, however, helped open other doors to help complement his soccer career. In 2005, he met a person that would make him realize that his status as a national caliber soccer player was more than just goals and assists. Adam Recke, 9-years old from Allentown, PA (Jason’s hometown), was diagnosed with Niemann-Pick disease, a terminal and extremely rare disease that affects metabolism, and Jason met him shortly thereafter. And so began their alliance, one in which both Jason and Adam became very close and the Allentown native was able to use his position as an elite NCAA Division I athlete for the benefit of the newly-formed Race for Adam Foundation. On the field, his 2009 season wound up his best yet and Yeisley was recognized for his commitment on every front when he was honored with the Lowes Senior CLASS Award. Now, all that’s left to close out a topsy-turvy but incredibly brilliant college career, is a good showing at the MLS Combine and a chance to stand at that podium on January 14th to accept his welcoming into Major League Soccer. Former Reading Rage player here (with the Union expected to make Reading its’ PDL affiliate today), could the Union take notice?

Can you tell us what it has been like the past few injury-riddled seasons? And how did the 2009 season feel after all that time off?

It was tough to deal without playing the past few seasons. I had never experienced a serious injury until my sophomore year of college so I was not familiar with the rehab involved or how hard it would be to stay mentally focused. I found ways to stay involved with the team, most of which involved mentoring the younger players and helping them adapt to the college game, but it was still hard to feel part of the team when I was not contributing on the field. This past season was very rewarding coming back from a significant amount of time off.  Luckily I had great trainers and doctors at Penn State that helped me recover to full strength. When I was playing this season, I felt no different than I did before I was injured and I could just focus on playing.  

How do you feel your chances are heading into the combine? Your expectations?

I am looking forward to going to the combine.  Since the season has ended, I have been working out and preparing for it.  

With such a rigorous schedule at Penn State and plans to go to dental school post-graduation, where does possibly playing pro soccer fit in?

I am hoping to continue my soccer career for as long as possible and continue on with dental school afterwards. 

Congratulations on the Lowe’s senior award! What has kept you so grounded?

The Lowes’ award is a nice honor and I am humbled just be mentioned in the list of players who were up for the award. I have always taken academics very seriously and I try to stay active in the community.  Spending time with Adam and his family have helped me realize the important things in life.  

How do you feel the season ended up?

Well we came up short in the last minutes of the Big Ten tournament, but in any case, I felt this season was very successful.  For the first time since 2005, we returned to the Big Ten finals and the NCAA tournament.  In my opinion, this is something our program should achieve every year and I feel this is a good precedent and building block for the upcoming seasons.  

Please tell us a bit about the Race for Adam Foundation and your role it in all.

I met Adam shortly after he was diagnosed with Niemann-Pick disease in September of 2005.  Since then Adam has been our honorary captain 3 or 4 times and we see each other when I return home to Allentown during breaks.  The goal of the Race For Adam Foundation is to raise money in search for a cure and to promote awareness of the disease.  Niemann-Pick is very rare with only 500 diagnosed cases worldwide; so creating awareness of the disease is a very important step in reaching potential donors.  Through my connection with Penn State soccer, I have tried to help spread awareness of the disease and the Race For Adam Foundation.  We have also contributed Penn State items gathered from various Penn State teams to be used in fundraiser raffles at their events.  Our relationship has grown significantly over my time at Penn State and they are like family to me. They are an amazing family and we will always be close. 

Jason and Adam

So what happens between now and when you head to Florida for the combine?

Lots of training and working out. I have been keeping my fitness up from the season and continuously working on getting better everyday so I can have my best showing at the combine.  

Have you paid attention to the development of the Philadelphia Union franchise? Initial thoughts?

Yes, I have.  I am from Allentown and I always wanted to have an MLS team nearby in Philadelphia. I think the fan support of soccer in Philadelphia is incredible and it will be one of the best atmospheres to play in.  

Quickfire:

Best player in the world at your position?

Ruud van Nistelrooy, he might be coming off of injury now but he’ll be back

Favorite club team?

Tottenham Spurs

Next Penn State soccer star?

Corey Hertzog [leading scorer this year for PSU, 11 goals as a sophomore]

Favorite thing about Philadelphia that doesn’t rhyme with ‘squeezemakes’? 

What is better than a Philly cheesesteak? 

Favorite PSU memory?

Winning the Big Ten my freshman year.

World Cup favorites? And where do you think the USMNT will end up?

I have faith in the USMNT, they can go get the job done like they showed against Spain in the Confederations Cup.

There’s a good chance Jason will be providing us with his Combine experiences sometime in January. We’ll check in with him soon. Thanks for the time and enjoy the Holidays!

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