Under the guidance of Head Coach Ian McIntyre, Syracuse University made program history in 2015, reaching the NCAA College Cup for the first time.
McIntyre and the Orange have experienced a good amount of success in recent years, as the program has earned a 56-22-7 record since 2012. In that time, many of the Orange’s top players have plied their trade in the PDL – and quite a few have experienced a lot of success. In 2015, Syracuse had six players on K-W United FC’s roster, and that team went on to win the 2015 PDL Championship against the New York Red Bulls U23.
“We were fortunate that we had a number of guys playing up and training at K-W United last summer, and they kind of rolled [their form] into our season,” McIntyre said. “Any time you’ve got a number of guys who can play and train together, it just kind of allows them to feel more comfortable with each other. They certainly went one step further with K-W, but they had a wonderful year for us at Syracuse as well.”
Ben Polk, now with the Portland Timbers 2 in the USL, and Julian Büscher, now with D.C. United in MLS, headlined K-W United’s 2015 roster. Polk, named to the 2015 All-Central Conference Team, scored the first goal in the PDL Championship.
The Canadian club was unable to capture back-to-back PDL titles, but, again, some of K-W United’s key contributors in 2016 hailed from Syracuse. Mo Adams played in 12 games, including one in the PDL Playoffs, scoring one goal and providing three assists. Sergio Camargo, who transferred to the Orange after three successful campaigns at Coastal Carolina, was previously ranked first in the 2016 PDL Top Prospects list. The new Orange talent missed time in the regular season due to injury, but Camargo was impactful when he came on. In six games, including one match in the PDL Playoffs, Camargo scored five goals and provided three assists.
“Location,” McIntyre said. “It makes it easy for our guys to get up there, and towards the end of the summer, to come back for summer school as well. They’ve been treated extremely well, they’ve been in a good training environment. We’ve had a number of guys who have … had success in the league, and it’s been an important part of the development of our young men.
“K-W United’s been in a fight all the way through the season, playing against good teams. In recent years, the winner of that conference [Central] has had a lot of success at the national level, so it’s been good competition. As well for players like Miles Robinson [with FC Boston] to get experience and combining that with a couple of international call-ups. I want our guys to be fit but fresh and looking forward to challenges ahead here, and the PDL has been a good bridge from our spring season into our fall campaign.”
The old adage that practice makes perfect is why McIntyre wants his guys competing in the PDL year after year, especially when they are suiting up with and against some of the best collegiate players from across North America.
“We talk about providing a full calendar year experience for our guys, and the PDL in recent years has been a core part of what we’ve been doing here,” McIntyre said. “It’s allowed our guys to play in demanding, challenging environments, with and against some of the best players from across the country and beyond. Be that Alex Bono or Skylar Thomas [with Reading United AC], we’ve had a number of players who have had success in the PDL and then have continued during their time at Syracuse and then have been fortunate to move on afterwards.”