The NC State men’s soccer team had a solid 2018 season, finishing with a record of 10-7-3, but the team could be in for an even better 2019 season with a solid squad of returning guys as well as an exciting group of new players.
Of the new group of eight players, six are freshmen and two are transfers. Three of the freshmen are from MLS academies and another two are from the local USL Championship team, NCFC's youth team.
"When the most recent recruiting rankings came out, we mentioned that our class wasn't quite finished," head coach George Kiefer said in an interview with NC State Athletics. "A lot of people have been working hard at getting Pablo [Pedregosa] on board, so we're very thankful that he's joining us."
Pedregosa is the latest and final signee of the 2019 class for NC State, with the defender signing from C.D. Castellón, a third-tier side in Spain. The defender primarily plays center back but can also feature on the left side of a back four. He featured one time for the C.D. Castellón senior team in the Segunda División B.
The other freshman defender joining as part of the 2019 class is Atlanta United academy player Kendall Edwards. The center back was the first active Atlanta United academy player to feature for their second team in the USL Championship. Edwards has featured six times for Atlanta United 2 in the USL Championship over the last two seasons including most recently against NCFC on July 28.
Edwards is a highly rated center back by TopDrawerSoccer, who rank the defender as a four-star recruit and ranked No. 40 in the 2019 Boys IMG Academy Top 150 rankings.
With the Wolfpack losing two of the starting back four from last season in right-back Simon Blotko and center back Christoph Schneuwly, both Pedregosa and Edwards have a shot to crack the starting lineup for the 2019 season.
The Pack is also adding two players between the sticks with Win Ellis and David Merola both joining the squad. Both keepers are rated as three-star recruits by TopDrawerSoccer with Ellis coming from the Colorado Rapids and Merola coming from NCFC. With how goalkeeper Leon Krapf played last season, it is unlikely that either will crack the starting lineup this season.
The last two freshman members of the men’s soccer signing class are a pair of forwards, Tonny Temple from the Philadelphia Union academy and Sheldon China from NCFC.
Temple is a four-star recruit and has played for IMG Academy, the Philadelphia Union youth team and Bethlehem Steele in the USL Championship. For the Union U-18/19s, Temple scored 20 goals in the 2017-18 season.
China is a three-star recruit and has played two games for the NCFC youth team this season and has scored one goal in those games.
With forward Manny Perez leaving the Pack for Celtic in January, there is room in the forward line for a new player and Tonny Temple looks like he has the ability and experience to step into the forward line.
The two transfers joining the Pack for 2019 are junior defender Jamie Smith and junior midfielder George Asomani. Smith played for Limestone College over the past two years making 37 appearances for the Saints. Given his experience playing at the college level, Smith looks likely to replace one of the two outgoing Pack defenders.
Asomani played for Monroe College over the last two seasons, appearing 23 times, scoring four goals and setting up another two goals in those games. Monroe College finished the 2018 season with a record of 12-2-2 with Asomani appearing in all but one of the 16 games.
The transfer may find breaking into the starting lineup difficult, however, with the midfield being the strongest part of the team in 2018 with the likes of Brad Sweeney, David Loera, Gabriel Machado and AJ Seals all returning.
"The class is strong, but you could say I'm even more excited about the returning guys," Kiefer said. "I'm also looking forward to seeing how these new guys adjust."
With the wealth of talent joining the squad and solid core returning from last season, the Wolfpack looks set to have a solid 2019.