Fall standouts to team up in All-America Game
George Campbell, who guided McDonogh to a 21-0-1 season and the Fall FAB 50 No. 1 ranking, is rooming at the Comfort Suites with Tanner Tomasi, who was a major part of Berkshire’s 19-1-1 StudentSports.com Prep Top 10 top-ranked squad.Before Thursday, Campbell and Tomasi had never met. Saturday, they will team up with the hope of delivering a victory for the East in the third annual All-American contest, which will be played at United Sports Center in Downingtown, Pa., starting at 5 p.m. The match was scheduled for Immaculata University, but snowfall in the area forced a venue change. In addition, plans for a live video stream of the match had to be scrapped. The weather forecast for Downingtown on Saturday is a high of 29 with a 90 percent chance of snow and a projected accumulation of 2 to 4 inches.
The Boys All-American Game features top fall-season high school soccer players competing in an East vs. West format. The West has won the two previous contests, both by 3-2 scores.
A weekend highlight for the participants and coaches of the All-American Game will be attending the NCAA Men’s College Cup semifinals Friday night in Philadelphia. For Campbell, it’s a chance to see his future college teammates. The University of Maryland commit is the only participant in this year’s All-American Game whose college choice is still alive in the tournament.
“A month ago, I told [Maryland coach Sasho Cirvoski] that I made the All-American Game and I looked forward to seeing [Maryland] up there [in Philadelphia],” said Campbell, who attended one of Maryland’s early-round playoff contests and watched the others on live video stream. “I wasn’t planning on going [to the College Cup], but this is going to be awesome now going up and watching them.”
Campbell is afforded the opportunity to play in the All-American Game largely thanks to a bold move by his high school and club coach Steve Nichols. Nichols, a former Development Academy coach, created a new club team — Baltimore Celtic — this past fall that directly competes for talent against the Baltimore Bays Academy squad. The twist is Baltimore Celtic players are allowed to play high school soccer, unlike most of their Academy counterparts. Celtic is largely comprised of former Baltimore Bays Academy players who joined Nichols with the move.
“It’s special and a real honor for me,” Campbell said of playing in the All-American Game. “There were a lot of McDonogh players in the past who had not been able to play in the All-American Game [due to Academy-imposed penalties]. It means something to be the first from McDonogh to play, and it reflects on what Steve has done. Making the Celtic club gave me the opportunity to play in this game.”The East squad is primarily comprised of top players from Atlantic coast states as far north as Rhode Island to North Carolina, and stretching west to Ohio. The West team features mostly Midwest players with four from western states California and Colorado.
Campbell is one of three East players who have received state Player of the Year honors from their state’s coaches association. Others are Austin Stamey of T.C. Roberson (Asheville, N.C.) and Jack Clark from Mason (Mason, Ohio). The East also features SMU commit Colten Habecker of The Hill School (Pottstown, Pa.), Denver commit Nick Gardner of Charlotte Latin (Charlotte, N.C.), Virginia Tech commits Ben Lundgaard and Dylan Huber of Salesianum (Wilmington, Del.), Boston College commit Mohammed Moro of Hotchkiss School (Lakeville, Conn.), UNC Charlotte commit Dean Rutherford of Fuquay-Varina (Fuquay-Varina, N.C.) and UNC Wilmington commit Jacob Turney of River Hill (Clarksville, Md.).
The West counters with a lineup that includes Illinois state player of the year Eli Brower, a goalkeeper from Springfield (Springfield, Ill.), a trio of Division I-bound defenders, a two-time state player of the year from Oregon and top prospect from Indiana. The defenders are Saint Louis commit John Bovill of Jesuit (Carmichael, Calif.), Evansville commit Cameron Cool of Scott County (Georgetown, Ky.) and Marquette commit Danny Jarosz of Marquette (Milwaukee, Wis.). Gonzaga commit Christo Michaelson of Portland Jesuit (Portland, Ore.) is a two-time state player of the year and led his high school team to back-to-back state titles. Other committed players are Indiana-bound Michael Reidford of Evansville Memorial (Evansville, Ind.), De Paul-bound Rhys Allen of Kapuan-Mt. Carmel (Wichita, Kan.), UC Davis commit Evan Barrett of Jesuit (Carmichael, Calif.), Oregon State commit Timmy Mueller of Post Falls (Post Falls, Idaho) and IUPUI commit Britt Watts of Canterbury (Ft. Wayne, Ind.). Edgar Duran of Nevada backed out of the game this week, and Michael Longo of Quincy (Quincy, Ill.) has been named to fill that spot.
Although only in its third year, the All-American Game has featured players that might have been under the recruiting radar, but have gone on to standout careers on the next level. The 2011 West MVP was Shane O’Neill from Colorado who was uncommitted at the time and is now with the U.S. Under-20 men’s national team. Last year’s West MVP was Niko Hansen from California who was one of the nation’s top college freshman goalscorers and has helped New Mexico to an appearance in this weekend’s NCAA Men’s Soccer College Cup. All four teams in this year’s NCAA College Cup have at least one player on the roster who has competed in either the 2011 or 2012 High School All-American Game.