July 29, 2010
DeKALB - Bolstering the strong tradition of international student-athletes at Northern Illinois, head men's soccer coach Eric Luzzi announced Thursday the signing of three European players to join the 2010 Huskies.
"We have worked very hard over the course of the last 10 months to add a few more players to our 2010 recruiting class. We were already very pleased with the class we had announced in February. To add three players of this caliber to the class makes this a special class, and one that I feel will help push us achieve great things as a program over the next few years," Luzzi said.
Midfielders Mino Kayser (Berg, Germany/Sternberg) and Gael Rivera (Oslo, Norway/WANG Elite Sports Academy), along with forward James Stevenson (Falkirk, Scotland/St. Mungo's) join six domestic signees who inked their commitments to Northern Illinois in February.
A member of FC Bayern Munich's U19 squad, Kayser competes in the Junior Bundesliga, the national German soccer league. As a starter with Bayern Munich, Kayser has played against elite competition from across the European continent, including youth squads of Real Madrid, Arsenal, Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona. He captained his team in the UEFA U18 Champions League Challenge match against Inter Milan.
"When we went to see Mino play, the game we watched was at an extremely high level, and Mino was one of the best players on the field," Luzzi said. "He comes to NIU with a level of soccer maturity and experience that few college players will have. He can play basically anywhere in the backline or in the midfield, and we are expecting big things from Mino."
Rivera will be the third Norwegian on the 2010 team, joining Finn Jor and Engebreth Faerden. Born in Vigo, Spain, Rivera has played for clubs in Spain, France and Norway. A member of three Norwegian Senior National Championship Tournament participants, Rivera is in his third year at the renowned WANG Elite Sports Academy. His playing experience includes a Norway Cup Championship in 2007, and a runner-up finish in the event in 2008.
"Gael plays like someone who has a background in both the Spanish and Norwegian soccer cultures," Luzzi said. "He is very technical, and has a great appetite to run at players. But he is very strong, physical and plays with a bit of edge like many Norwegians. Gael's style of play matches our team's style of play very well, and I think he will be a handful for opposing teams to try to deal with on the wing."
Stevenson will become the second Scot to be coached by Luzzi at Northern Illinois. He follows in the footsteps of Fraser Gibson, who played for the Huskies from 2004-07, including on the 2006 Mid-American Conference Championship team. Stevenson plays for the Scottish Schoolboys' National Team and with Alloa Athletic FC's U19 team. He started all 23 matches for St. Mungo's High School, scoring 39 goals and registering 10 assists. His team also won their region and reached the Scottish Cup Championship match.
"James is a goal scorer, plain and simple," Luzzi said. "He has a good pedigree back home, having been a member of the Scottish Schoolboys National Team. He has a strikers mentality, and a fantastic nose for the goal. Once James gets used to the pace and style of American college soccer, he is going to score a lot of goals for us over the next four years."
The three new additions bolster an already strong recruiting class that includes Karim Darbaki (Faribault, Minn./Shattuck St. Mary's), Miles Herbert (Libertyville, Ill./Libertyville), Houston Hoffman (Sioux Falls, S.D./Lincoln), Kenny Kranz (Champaign, Ill./Centenntial/Parkland College), Daniel Sassano (Gastonia, N.C./Forestview), and Sean Totsch (Oswego, Ill./Oswego).
The Huskies open the 2010 season at the Portland Invitational, facing the Pilots, Sept. 3, and Washington, Sept. 5.
||WANG Elite Sports Academy