The next generation

I’ll readily admit I don’t watch much college soccer throughout the course of the regular season, but I do vividly recall watching last year’s NCAA College Cup. In particular, I remember being wowed by UCLA’s second goal in a 2-2 draw (and subsequent penalty shootout loss) to the eventual national champion North Carolina Tar Heels in one of the semifinals.

A dynamic sophomore midfielder named Kelyn Rowe played a one-two at the top of the box with forward Chandler Hoffman before slicing through the UNC defense and deftly chipping the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper. Analyst Taylor Twellman called it “a special goal from a special player.”

Immediately I thought, “That kid’s good.”

One month later I found myself interviewing “that kid” after the Revs drafted him with the third overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft. Of course, Rowe went on to become a regular in the Revolution’s lineup during his rookie season, notching three goals and a team-leading five assists in 30 appearances. Safe to say he’ll be an integral part of New England’s young core heading into 2013.

Players like Rowe are why you should be watching when the 2012 NCAA College Cup unfolds this weekend in Hoover, Ala. The semifinals kick off on Friday, Dec. 7, with No. 2 Maryland taking on No. 3 Georgetown at 5 p.m. ET, followed by No. 12 Creighton and No. 16 Indiana at 7:30 p.m. ET. Both games will be televised on ESPNU.

Friday’s winners will meet in the National Championship on Sunday, Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. ET, also on ESPNU. What were you going to do on Sunday afternoon? Watch American football? Come on.

Once again the Revs are slated to pick early in the SuperDraft as they currently hold the fourth overall selection in the 2013 edition, scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 17, in Indianapolis, Ind. They also hold three picks in the second round, so there’s a decent chance someone on the field in Alabama this weekend could end up wearing a Revolution jersey come January.

As a side note, I know many of you will be unable to watch Friday’s games live as the Midnight Riders are hosting their second annual FIFA Tournament at The Greatest Bar in Boston. In fact, I’ll be in that same boat. That’s why they invented DVR.

I’ll leave you with a clip of Rowe’s goal from last year’s NCAA College Cup …