The UCSB men’s soccer team added recruits Bryan Dominguez and Danny Barrera to the roster for the upcoming season. Both players spent time with the U.S. Youth National Team over the past few years and look to help fill the void in the Gauchos’ midfield for next year. The Daily Nexus sits down with Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg for a closer look at the first two players announced from what should be a large recruiting class, with more recruits expected to be announced this afternoon.
How do U.S. Youth National Team players stack up against other kinds of recruits?
Vom Steeg: Unlike a kid that comes out of very good club or high school program, kids in the residency program are able to step on the field right away and help. They’ve already played in some really big games, whether it’s qualifying for the FIFA U-17 World Cup or [playing in] the U-17 World Cup. They’ve been in an atmosphere where if you don’t play well, someone takes your spot. The players that have had some exposure to national team play are players that you can count on sooner. Mostly you are talking about a physical thing where there is a big physical difference between top-10 [collegiate] soccer and club or high school.
How adequately will new recruits Bryan Dominguez and Danny Barrera fill the hole left by Ciaran O’Brien and Eric Avila?
Where we’re at right now we have to replace [Avila], we have to replace Ciaran [O’Brien], we have to replace Brennan [Tennelle]. In our program we do have players that are obviously going to have a say about stepping into those spots. The reality is we don’t have anyone in our program who is an attacking midfielder. That spot is going to probably be filled by one of these two players.
What do Barrera and Dominguez bring to the table for next season?
Barrera is a player who can really break down a defense. He’s a very good dribbler and he can play in tight spaces. In that way he reminds you of [Avila]. What I really like about his game is that he’s a good passer and is good at combining with other players. For us, when looking at the players in California, we thought he was the best. Bryan [Dominguez] is different in that he is a true playmaker, where he’ll receive the ball off of someone else like the back line, and he will potentially run by one guy and combine with the next guy and run out wide. He’s a playmaker. He plays the ball well over longer distances. They know each other very well and are very good friends. Chemistry-wise it’s not something that we’ll have to reinvent when the two of the find themselves on the field. The issue is that Danny [Barrera] will be 18 when he gets here and Bryan [Dominguez] will be 17. They’ll need to adjust their game, but when you are as talented as they are the adjustment period is shorter.
How does this recruiting class look compared with other schools on the West Coast?
Especially with the Big West schools, we have a really good idea about what they’ve been doing. We had such a large recruiting class that we were really out there. I can tell you that I don’t think we really missed on anybody. The players that we didn’t get were players that we probably didn’t go after because we felt [a similar player] was already in our program or we filled the spot with a recruit. [Assistant Coach] Greg [Wilson] has done a great job with this class and [Assistant Coach] Neil Jones spent a lot of hours on the road. We just lost so many key guys that we’re going to be young. The future is bright, but we’ll have to bring it together on the field.
How has winning the national title helped in the recruiting battle?
We would not be getting a Bryan Dominguez if we hadn’t won the national championship. He’s a kid who is traveling 3,000 miles to play for your school. Danny Barrera is the top player in California, and before we probably wouldn’t get the top recruit from California. The atmosphere and energy at the games really sealed Danny’s decision to come here and he had lots of fun.