Back in April, we talked about the large number of departures from the Marquette men’s soccer roster. As it turns out, head coach Louis Bennett wasn’t quite done adding new players to the roster for the fall of 2017 at that point. Steffen Böhm was announced as a transfer on May 4th, while Christian Albelo got his introduction on May 16th.
Böhm is a defender and listed as 6’2” and 180 lb. on the Florida International roster. He played for the Panthers for two seasons, and will have two years of eligibility remaining. In 2015, he made 14 appearances for FIU with 13 starts and registered one assist out of the back line as the Panthers won the Conference USA tournament and advanced to the NCAA tournament. Böhm was limited to just seven games and four starts in 2016, but had a major role in two early season shutouts, including FIU blanking Wisconsin down in Miami. He also has a boatload of experience playing for the youth leagues in his native Germany, including 33 appearances for MSV Duisburg’s U19 team.
Here’s Bennett on Böhm:
“He has a great soccer background and is another vital piece to fit into the puzzle,” Bennett said. “It’s a position we need experience and that’s what he brings. Coming in as a junior, he will be able to provide versatility whether it be at centerback or as an attacking right back.”
“He’s taller and very good technically, which along with his experience gives him confidence,” Bennett added. “He’s a good student and ambitious in both academics and soccer and he’s really going to fit in well with the way we do things at Marquette. We’re very excited to add him to our club.”
Albelo has had a bit of a winding path to beginning his four years of collegiate eligibility with Marquette this fall. The midfielder qualifies as the highest ranked recruit in Marquette men’s soccer history, topping out at #17 by Top Drawer Soccer for last year’s recruiting class, the same class that had reigning Big East Freshman of the Year Luka Prpa ranked #36 in the country. Albelo is American-born, but grew up in Germany as part of a military family. As a result, he racked up experience with Bundesliga academies and found his way into the U.S. Junior National Team program at the U15, U16, and U17 levels. Albelo originally passed on college last fall, opting instead for an amateur contract with Swope Park Rangers, the USL club attached to MLS’s Sporting KC. However, he did not play for SPR at all, and now he’s opted to pursue a collegiate career.
Here’s Bennett on Albelo:
“Christian is a high-profile player that considered a professional career and fortunately, for us, he’s had a change in focus and decided to take the college pathway,” Bennett said. “He’s a player that’s going to be very flexible and versatile, which is going to be key for us. He should acclimate well to our style of play.”
“Adding a level of competitiveness is always a great thing and Christian has been in environments where everything is a competition, from training to the game field,” Bennett said. “Winning is very important to him and he’s been on many winning teams. Whenever you’re at a high-level situation, you get used to that atmosphere. It’s not just winning on game day, it’s winning consistently.
“It’s that kind of experience that is most beneficial for everyone when a guy like Christian is added to a program.”
“His experience is going to help him considerably with not only the speed of collegiate soccer, but the way that we like to play,” Bennett said. “The amount of traveling he did in Germany, flying back-and-forth as also a member of the U.S. youth national team, he’ll be well-equipped to acclimate swiftly to the college game and the growing change that comes with it.”
The lack of discussion of goal scoring, either in Germany, at the U.S. youth level, or even in Bennett’s quotes, in the press release about Albelo seems to indicate to me that he’s more of a defensive minded midfielder. We’ll have to see whether or not that ends up being the case, I suppose, but it’s hard to be disappointed about having two of the 40 best prospects in the recruiting class of 2016 occupying space in the midfield, regardless of what roles they end up playing. If Albelo ends up as a defensive mid, he should provide a high quality mirror to the offensive skill and talent that Prpa brings to the Marquette attack.