Best College Soccer Teams in the World
As soccer continues to gain popularity in the US, slowly catching up to its fame and fanfare in Europe, you'll want to know about the best college soccer teams to keep your eye on.
Collegiate sports are great for athletes, students, and sports fans alike. They provide an outlet for competition, an exciting entertainment option, and a great method of exercise. And at the Division I level, soccer can be intense—for both college athletes and fans. So whether you're looking to play or watch, you'll want to be in the know about the best college soccer teams you should be keeping your eye on.
Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University is a highly selective, private non-profit university located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Though the Wake Forest is a desirable and competitive school for many reasons, its soccer team stands out far and above the rest.
Finishing the 2017 college soccer season at #1, it's no surprise that this team has a great track record of college athletes reaching pro levels. Included amongst these talented athletes are Luis Argudo, who recently signed with the Columbus Crew, Jon Bakero to Chicago Fire, Corben Bone to FC Cincinnati, Chris Duvall to Montreal Impact, and dozens of other talented Wake Forest students and graduates.
The current Wake Forest team includes a range of successful and promising college athletes from many different backgrounds. The best soccer apps also include some college teams, so don't forget to keep track of their stats!
University of Virginia
Not only has UVA qualified for the NCAA Championships every single year for the past 37 years—the longest streak in NCAA College Championship history—but they have also won seven of those, the last as recently as 2014. A number of players for the U.S. men's soccer team were recruited out of UVA, including Claudio Reyna, who was captain of the U.S. team for a while.
The best teams have a combination of talented players and great coaches, and UVA certainly owes a lot to both. Bruce Arena, the head coach of the team for 18 years, led them to five championship wins and countless qualifications and wins. Arena would later go on to become the head coach of the U.S. team. The current coach, George Gelnovatch, has also seen the team through a number of big wins in recent years.
In fall 2016, Duke's soccer fields and training rooms had a complete makeover, making their facilities one of the most up-to-date and useful for hard training. But of course, good facilities aren't enough to make a great team. It also takes great players and coaches.
A number of Duke graduates have gone on to play professional soccer, many of them in just the last few years, which shows that their quality of talent is only improving. As part of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Duke Blue Devils are competing against some of the best college soccer teams today, including Wake Forest, Notre Dame, and North Carolina.
Their success is surely in part due to the excellent coaching of 9-year head coach John Kerr, who has not only brought the team to a number of championship tournaments, but also coached eight talented college athletes to the All-American honor.
University of Notre Dame
Though also a member of the highly competitive ACC, the Notre Dame men's soccer team holds their own. They have qualified for each of the last six NCAA Division I championships, winning the title in 2013 and staying a team to beat every year. Their leading scorer for the past three years was Jon Gallagher, now a professional soccer player with Atlanta United. Though the former head coach, Bobby Clark, retired just recently in 2017, the team is in good hands with new coach Chad Riley, who coached Dartmouth to a number of consecutive wins in the Ivy League prior to his accepting the position at Notre Dame.
With Notre Dame's recent and continuing success, the school has caught the eye of SportsRecruits, which ranks them among the most closely watched schools for recruiting interests. The next best soccer players ever might come out of this school.
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
North Carolina last won the NCAA championship in 2011, under the coaching of Carlos Somoano, earning him the honor of being named National Coach of the Year. With his consistent coaching, the UNC soccer program has created a team that has appeared in every NCAA tournament since 2011—and quite a few before, as well—and won a total of six seasonal and tournament conference championships. Certainly one of the top college soccer teams to keep your eye on, UNC is already attracting the attention of many professional recruiters.
Perhaps one of North Carolina's most prominent alumni is Kirk Urso, an all-star player who tragically died of a heart defect in 2012. However, his legacy has gone on to inspire new generations of talent, including players from all over the world.
Stanford University is the team to beat when it comes to men's college soccer. The California team has won a consecutive three NCAA championships, coming off of a total qualifying streak of five years. Their 2015 finals win over Clemson College ended in a score of 4-0—the widest gap in a championship final score since 1975.
Coach Jeremy Gunn surely has a hand in the team's rapid climb to the top, as he accepted the head coach position in 2012, a move that was immediately followed by five consecutive years of participation in the NCAA championship.
The team was also blessed with the notable Jordan Morris, who not only led the Cardinals in their winning seasons, but simultaneously played for the Seattle Sounders and eventually the U.S. international team—making him one of the first college athletes to get called up while still attending university.
Clemson University has been a powerhouse of a college soccer team for decades, appearing in 32 NCAA College Cups, including all since 2013. Though their 2015 loss to Stanford kept them from locking in a recent championship win, they can boast a 2013 ACC tournament win, as well as a 2016 runner-up claim.
Their team, though consistently competitive over the years, has risen to greater levels since the arrival of head coach Mike Noonan in 2010. Given the steady level of talent and consistent improvement, it seems a safe bet to expect great things from Clemson. Already, a number of recent graduates have found places on MLS teams, including Diego Campos with Chicago Fire.
University of Maryland - College Park
The University of Maryland was in hot competition with the major players of the ACC, including Wake University and Clemson, up through 2013. They had many winning ACC seasons and tournaments in those years, as well as an impressive 17-year streak qualifying for NCAA Division I College Cup, which they won most recently in 2008 and came in 2nd in 2013.
In 2014, the team moved to the Big 10 Conference. After this change, they immediately won the Big 10 Conference championships, beginning an immediate winning streak which would last for three titles, before 2017.
University of Maryland has produced players that now compete on professional teams all around the world, including MLS and US national players Graham Zusi, Zack Steffen, and many other talented alumni. It's easy to see why alumni make their way onto the teams in the complete list of major league soccer teams.
Indiana University Bloomington
Indiana University, also a member of the Big 10 Conference, has appeared in more NCAA championships than almost any other college soccer teams. And that isn't a remnant of the past—in fact, they have appeared in every such championship for the past 31 years—a number second only to University of Virginia's 37-year streak. Within this streak, Indiana has won six of the championships, including the 2012 final against Georgetown.
The players themselves have won countless awards, and the college team has turned out stars that have since competed on the US national team, the Olympics, and even the World Cup.
While many of these impressive wins occurred under long-time coach Jerry Yeagley, their success continues under the coaching of his son, Todd Yeagley, who has been with the school since 2010.
Though Syracuse University can't claim the same decades-long winning streaks as many of the big ACC and Big 10 Conference schools, their team has blossomed into a real competitor under the coaching of Ian McIntyre since 2010. Two years after McIntyre's arrival, the team transferred from the Big East Conference to the ACC, where they won the ACC conference title against many of the best college soccer teams, including a 1-0 win against Notre Dame in the final. In those few years, they also became real competitors in the NCAA Division I tournaments, making it to the semifinals in 2015 and qualifying three years in a row. As a result of the massive improvements in Syracuse's success, McIntyre was named ACC Coach of the Year in 2014.