RICHMOND – Competing in their third straight Atlantic 10 Championship game, and their fourth in the last six years while also grabbing their third at-large bid and second Top 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament in the last six years, the VCU Men's Soccer program and Head Coach Dave Giffard are excited to announce their 13-player recruiting class for the upcoming 2018 season. The class is one of the largest in recent years, and features multiple players from Virginia and the DMV region, as well as a few international and junior college transfers.
"Our staff has worked hard to put together what we feel is a class that answers the needs that we have in the program," said Giffard. "We purposefully kept a little smaller roster last fall and with the departure of seven senior starters we needed a larger group of quality people and players and this class has certainly done that."
With the departure of reigning A-10 Player of the Year Rafael Andrade Santos, and A-10 All-Conference Second Team selections Francesco Amorosino and Luc Fatton, the Rams find themselves reloading instead of rebuilding. That luxury should keep the Rams among the nation's Top 25 and reach the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season.
"I can see as many as five or six guys who could compete to play as early as this fall, with all of the players looking like guys who could grow into players who can contribute here during the course of their careers. Throughout this group we have quality both on and off the field and we can't wait to add these guys in to an already talented young team for this fall."
Let's meet the upcoming Class of 2018, along with quotes from Head Coach David Giffard:
Nicholas Barahona (BRYC/Bishop O"Connell)
6'4" 190 pounds
Barahona comes to VCU as a defender from the Braddock Road Youth Academy. Serving as team captain, the Northern Virginia Product was All-WCAC and All-State as a senior at Bishop O'Connell.
"Nick is a player who has struggled with injuries over the last few years and as a result has flown a bit under the radar. He has a big frame and passes the ball extremely well for a defender, especially of his size."
Biska Biyombo (Trinidad State JC/Montverde Academy)
Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
6'2" 190 pounds
Biyombo is no stranger to the spot light, as he comes to VCU as a transfer with a decorated record both in the PDL and at Trinidad State in Colorado. With two years left of eligibility, the Montverde product is a two-time NJCAA All-American at Trinidad and was ranked as the No. 36 player in the PDL last season. He scored a combined 38 goals over his two years, and looks to make an immediate impact for the Rams. The athleticism runs in the family as his brother, Bismack, plays in the NBA for the Orlando Magic.
"Biska was one of the most sought after players in the class of 2016. After spending the last two years at Trinidad State and continuing to get more comfortable with the ball at his feet, he's ready to make an impact at the top end of Division 1. Physically he is an athletic game changer who will provide a dimension we haven't had for a few years."
Joao Costa (Sporting Lisbon)
5'10 160 pounds
A member of the Sporting Lisbon Academy U-19's, the Portuguese product looks to make a name for himself in the midfield or back line. He won a national championship with Sporting Lisbon this past year in 2017, and was a member of the Portuguese National Team in 2015 and 2016.
"Joao is an undersized defender who can play anywhere in the back half of the team. His versatility reminds me quite a bit of, departed captain, Steven Dal Molin, but his mentality and personality are very similar to those of Dennis Castillo. He has the ability to impact us in several positions very early in his career."
Roy Cox (Beach FC/Landstown HS)
Virginia Beach, Va.
5'6" 140 pounds
Coming to Richmond up I-64 from Virginia Beach, Cox is an athletic player making him a viable option at defender for VCU. He played for the Region I ODP.
"Roy is an attacking left back who is a very good athlete and goes forward well from the back of the team. He fits the mold of what we look for in fullbacks here at VCU and has a ton of upside to his game."
Simon Fitch (George Washington)
Defensive Midfielder/Center Back
6'1" 175 pounds
Fitch comes to VCU as a transfer from George Washington University. Fitch appeared in all 18 matches for the Colonials in 2017, making 12 starts as a freshman. The Richmond native played for the Richmond Kickers Pro Team as a senior in high school, making an appearance against Swansea City of the EPL. He will have three years of eligibility left as a member of the Black & Gold.
"Simon was a player we recruited out of high school before he headed to GW this past fall. Some family circumstances brought him back home and we couldn't be more excited to add him to the group. He joined us this spring and has added a competitive hungry player who can play in either defensive midfield or center back."
Patrick Gyamfi (Potomac HS)
5'10" 165 pounds
Gyamfi earned his spot into the 2018 recruiting class, as he was selected as a walk on during tryouts held for VCU students in the spring of 2018. He was a multi-sport athlete at Potomac High School, including earning All-Conference honors. He will provide depth in the back line for the next three years.
"Each year, we hold walk on tryouts in the spring for students here on campus. Patrick is a guy who chose VCU after having several offers from other schools to be close to family. He's spent most of the spring with us and I've been very impressed with his enthusiasm and mentality that he brings to everything that we do. He's an excellent 1v1 defender and is also an exceptional athlete. It will be interesting to see how he can develop over the next several years with us."
Luke Murphy (Herkimer CC)
Another JUCO transfer in the class, Murphy brings plenty of experience to the table for the Rams. As captain at Herkimer Community College, he led the nation in goals last fall with 35 on the year. Those scores earned him NJCAA All-American honors, as well as All-American honors from the United Soccer Coaches. He earned Region III Player of the Year honors as well, scoring three goals to led Generals to their 28th straight Region III Championship. Not to be outdone by his accolades in the classroom, Murphy also earned NJCAA National Scholar of the Year.
"Luke, is a different type of striker than what we have had here at VCU. He's incredibly tough with a nasty streak in him due to his competitiveness. He has an eye for goal and a hunger to play the game at the highest levels and will fight to do anything he can to help the team win."
Martin Ngoh (Richmond United/Liberty HS)
5'11" 180 pound
A product of the commonwealth coming from Goldvein , Ngoh has been a member of the Richmond United Academy since it's inception in 2014. He leads the academy in scoring, and his skills have earned him invites to the National Team ID Camp in 2015 and the U.S. Soccer Market Training Center.
"Martin is a big powerful and talented target striker. We've had our eye on him for the last several years and he has matured very well over the last 18 months. He has a big ceiling and has the potential to be quite successful at this level and beyond."
Thomas Perrigo (Virginia Rush/Kempsville HS)
Virginia Beach, Va.
5'8' 155 pounds
Another commonwealth native from the beach, Perrigo will provide the Rams depth at the midfield as someone to get forward and help the offense. He was a team captain at Kempsville, earning VHSL All-Conference Player of the Year and All-Tidewater honors during his senior year for the Chiefs. He was also an invitee to the U.S. Soccer Market Training Center.
"Thomas comes to us from Kempsville high school and former Ram, Leroi Wilson who also mentored former VCU standouts and professional players, Devon Fisher and Richie Duffie. He has a tireless work rate and can be productive in a variety of positions."
Kyle Simon (Maryland United/Montverde Academy/DeMatha HS)
5'7" 140 pounds
Keeping the pipeline strong from Montverde, Simon looks to make a name at the midfield for the Black & Gold. Before his one postgraduate year at Montverde, he starred on the field for DeMatha High School in Maryland. While at Montverde, Simon was featured for S.I.M.A. as well as the Orlando City U-19 Academy Team.
"Kyle is a player that we have followed and known about for several years. After graduating last year, he spent a PG year with our friends at Montverde playing in an extremely competitive environment day in and day out. That has brought the best out of him and we are excited to see how his high character and athleticism will translate in our environment over the course of his career."
Nuno Sualehe (Sporting Lisbon)
5'10" 165 pounds
Talent is no stranger to Suahele's soccer career, as the midfielder was featured in Sporting Lisbon's Academy U-19's alongside fellow recruit Joao Costa. He won the U-17 National Championship with them in 2017, adding to his resume on the pitch.
"Nuno is an extremely talented midfielder who has floated around some of the top youth academies in the world. His father is an agent who's business has taken him from place to place and as a result Nuno has been exposed to some of the best footballing environments in the world. He's an extremely technical deep lying play maker who is as gifted with the ball as anyone we've had here. With some maturation, he could be a top end 6 or 8 at our level and beyond."
Yugo Suzuki (Richmond United/Midlothian HS)
5'9" 150 pounds
Suzuki adds to the local talent pool in the class, coming from Midlothian. A member of Richmond United, Suzuki was an invitee to the U.S. Soccer Market Training Center. He was also named to the U.S. Soccer Academy North Atlantic Division "Best 11" in 2015, and "Best 11" of the winter showcase for the 2018 class in 2016.
"Yugo is a player that I have worked with in Market Training Centers for the last three years. His engine, mentality and work rate are top class and I can't wait to begin working with him each and every day. He has the versatility to play in the center of midfield or even at right back."
Jared Valdes (BRYC/George C. Marshall HS)
Dunn Loring, Va.
6'0" 160 pounds
The last piece to the 2018 class, Valdes was a team captain at George C. Marshall High School. While a standout with the Statesmen, he earned his name on the field as a member of the Braddock Road Youth Academy as well. He played every minute and anchored the back line for BRYC, as they won both the U-18 USYS National Championship in 2017 and the U-18 USYS National League.
"Jared is a winner. He's a tough hard working, honest defender that can play all across the back line. I'm really looking forward to see what he can do in our environment over the course of his career."