Among the names not listed for January’s MLS Combine was Zack Simmons, UMass’s stellar 2007 Third-Team All-American keeper. The committee that selects players for the combine still has time to correct their mistake–the list won’t be finalized for a few weeks, when Generation adidas, NAIA, and more NCAA players are added–but IFK believes in both education and justice. Zack Simmons seems to stand for both of those principles, so darnit if we won’t do our part to support them as well.
Simmons began his UMass career as a true walk-on (not an invited one), but earned significant playing time by his sophomore year. Over the course of his career, his Goals Allowed Average dropped from around 1.5 to just below .8 goals per game and his save percentage rose from 78% to 85% of shots saved. Amazingly, his numbers improved from 2007–when he was awarded All-American honors as well as being named the Umbro National Player of the Year and a member of the College Cup All-Tournament team–to 2008. His play was instrumental in UMass’s second straight Atlantic 10 Championship.
But Simmons isn’t just a star on the field. In the classroom, he is an Economics and History double major who boasts an astonishing 3.99 GPA and was named ESPN The Magazine’s Top Academic All-American for all sports.
Simmons was named a Second-Team All-American by College Soccer News in 2008 and was selected as their top keeper for the 2008 MLS Superdraft. At 6’2, he does not have outstanding size, but that is above average for a professional keeper and MLS Keeper of the Year Jon Busch is only 5’9.
If the MLS is serious about improving American soccer, they need to be serious about paying attention to the college game, their best source for homegrown talent. My guess is that Simmons is going to make a solid if not spectacular keeper some day, and someone is going to question how they missed out on him. Most likely, a team like Chicago that does an excellent job of scouting the college ranks will pick him up in the middle rounds of the draft.
So tell me again: why wasn’t Simmons one of the seven keepers chosen for the MLS Combine?