NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The last three seasons have seen considerable success for the Yale men’s soccer program. The Bulldogs captured the 2019 Ivy League title, have posted a winning overall record in each of those three years and have accumulated the most points of any Ivy team over the last two seasons. There is every reason to believe Yale will be challenging for league championships and national recognition for the foreseeable future as Kylie Stannard, the 5K Corral Head Coach of the Bulldogs, will welcome another group of talented newcomers this fall.
“Even after the challenging year of recruiting during COVID and limited opportunities to evaluate, I sincerely believe this recruiting class has the chance to be the best since I have been here,” Stannard said. “It’s not a top-25 ranked class like we have had multiple times in recent years, but our last unranked class was our current group of rising seniors that has a chance to have the biggest impact on this program in decades. I have a very high bar of expectation for this group to help this coming season and over their careers. Our biggest goals for this class were accomplished with adding central midfield depth and some very important and dynamic attacking players to support our strong defensive group and top-level strikers. I expect several of them to compete for spots right away and add healthy competition.
“Another aspect of this class is that most of them have all been captains of their respective teams. They bring some good leadership qualities that will grow and develop even further in the coming years. I want to give a big thanks to former assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Bill Schmid for helping bring this group together for the program, as well as important input from former assistant coach Charles Rodriguez.
“I am very excited about these young men and what they will add to the Yale Men’s Soccer Family on the field, in the classroom and within the Yale and New Haven community,” Stannard added. “We can’t wait to have them on campus in August.”
Here is a closer look at the Class of 2026:
Seacoast United Academy
High School: Scored 16 goals and had 46 points in three seasons at Milton Academy (senior season was canceled due to pandemic)… Selected to the All-American Game Watchlist as a junior… Helped lead Milton Academy to the finals of the NEPSAC Tournament as a junior… Team posted a 40-8-12 record in his three seasons… Selected as an ISL Projected Best XI and an MLS Next Player to Watch by the New England Soccer Journal in 2020.
Club: Played 10 games with Seacoast United Academy and had 10 points (4 goals, 2 assists)… In 48 games in the GPS, scored 18 goals and added 20 assists… Helped GPS club win NPL national championship in 2017 and ENPL national title in 2018.
ODP: Played ODP for two years and was selected to Region I team.
Notes: Selected by FC Barcelona youth coaching staff to travel and compete in a tournament in Barcelona… Two time invitee to US Soccer National Training Centers… Two training stints with GNK Dinamo Zagreb
Personal: Established a donation program collecting soccer equipment and providing it to underprivileged youth programs in Morocco, where his father is from… Has played for teams in Croatia and Germany.
3 QUESTIONS FOR JAY
Biggest soccer influence? “Mesut Ozil. He has found success as an attacking midfielder by not only finding dangerous pockets of space but also using his creativity to be effective on the ball and in front of goal. I study his style of play often because I see myself as someone who can contribute to the game in similar ways.”
Do you have an idol or hero? “Aside from my parents, I would say Tom Brady. Although his deep level of concentration has led him to some extraordinary feats, he remains focused on his craft and hungry to accomplish more. This elite mentality has allowed him to thrive on the biggest stage for over two decades. As a Boston native, I have grown up watching him play and I try to implement that mindset in all aspects of my life.”
Why Yale? “Yale is everything I am looking for in a school. Its world-class academic resources, rich tradition, supportive community and outstanding soccer program set the tone for excellence. These elements will not only allow me to develop into a prominent member of society but will also help me to succeed as an aspiring soccer player.”
Stannard on Jay: “Aydin brings versatility to the midfield and is fairly two-footed which makes him a little unpredictable. He is a possession based player that has a good idea of when we need to play forward quickly in transition but also smart and composed when we need to slow the game down at times. He does well to make runs off the ball after he passes which creates space and asks different questions of the opponent. One of my favorite things about Aydin is how passionate he is about the game. He has been very committed to challenging himself to develop this past year during his gap year, including professional academy settings in Croatia and Germany. He will push some of our younger guys and add strong depth to our midfield.”
New York, N.Y.
Professional Performing Arts School
BW Gottschee MLS Next
High School: Lettered as a sophomore and junior at Professional Performing Arts School (senior season was canceled by pandemic)… Two-time team captain… Team posted a 17-3-1 overall record in his two seasons and finished first in the league in both years.
Club: Played for BW Gottschee MLS Next in 2021-22 and the Downtown United Soccer Club from 2017-21… Club was EDP National North Atlantic Conference champions in 2021… Surf Cup finalist in 2019… Won the 2016 New York state championship with the Manhattan Soccer Club in 2016.
ODP: Played for the ENY ODP (South) for two years.
Personal: Ranked No. 2 in his class at the Professional Performing Arts School… Recipient of the Outstanding Achievement in Mathematics Award.
3 QUESTIONS FOR LASKOV
Biggest soccer influence? “Reminiscing over the people, places, and things that have graced my journey within this sport, I realize I was fortunate to have many positive influences. The first is undoubtedly my father, who introduced me to this wonderful game. I fondly remember our kickarounds at parks, Arsenal games on tv, and to the dismay of our neighbors, penalty shootouts in the living room. He’s always been my greatest anchor in my athletic career, for which I’m incredibly grateful. My grandfather was also a great influence. Growing up, I spent all summers in Rostov on Don, Russia, where he would drive me to train with the Rostov FC academy team, and take me to matches of the professional squad, which prior to World Cup renovations were held in an older, Soviet stadium that was small in stature yet large in spirit. It was fascinating then, during Rostov’s remarkable UCL qualifying season, to watch monolith teams like Bayern, Man U, and Atletico Madrid travel to compete at our humble hometown pitch. Finally, I’d also like to pay tribute to my coach Alex Cuba, who during my four years at DUSC, instilled in our squad a culture of grit, discipline, and respect – a culture I hope to take with me to Yale.”
Do you have an idol or hero? “Zlatan Ibrahimovic. What a guy. Why idolize a human when I can idolize a lion? Jokes aside, there is a long line of people that fit into this category. I am constantly inspired by family, friends, athletes, innovators, writers and artists.”
Why Yale? “Ever since the days of flipping through college brochures and campus tours, Yale has firmly facilitated itself within my dreams and aspirations. It is a school with incredible opportunities, a soccer team with a vison, and an environment that encourages students to pursue their interests to the fullest.”
Stannard on Laskov: “Oleg is a gentle giant off the field but a strong competitor on the field. He will bring some needed size to our team that will be losing some size and physicality after this year. He moves really well for his size and has good feet which allows him to play anywhere through the spine of the team. We mostly see him as a defensive central mid, but he could also end up as a center back during his time here. He has made gains this past year playing in the MLS Next with BW Gottschee but a recent injury will set him back a little. However, we really think Oleg could end up being a hidden gem of this class.”
Aberdeen Grammar School
Aberdeen Football Club
High School: Captained the soccer team from 2020-2022… Received half colors in recognition of his contribution to the team… Also captained volleyball and basketball teams… Competed in cross country and swimming.
Club: Played regularly for four years with the Aberdeen Football Club… Top scorer from the midfield in 2020… Captained the club in 2020… Played in 57 games over two seasons and scored 45 goals for the Westdyke Community Club… Club won a league trophy and two cup trophies.
Personal: Father played soccer at Newcastle University and mother played netball at Aberdeen University… Volunteer for Mary’s Meals, providing regular meals to underprivileged children… PADI certified in scuba diving and dove with manta rays in the Maldives.
3 QUESTIONS FOR RENFORTH
Biggest soccer influence? “My dad. He taught me from a young age and provided me with a great understanding of the game. He was always fair but expected me to be the best I could be.”
Do you have an idol or hero? “I really respect Sadio Maine because of how he has worked his way to the top but has never forgotten where he came from.”
Why Yale? “Although I’m not from the United States, I knew about Yale and the Ivy League. I never expected to have the opportunity to attend Yale, but from the moment I spoke with the coaches, there was only one place I wanted to go. After I visited campus and attended camp, my desire to attend Yale was even greater. While I was blown away by the facilities, I was more struck by the players and the team spirit. Yale will allow me to explore my limits physically and academically.”
Stannard on Renforth: “I have to thank Jamie Clark, head coach at the University of Washington, for helping me find Luke. I became very excited about Luke after watching his highlights. However, that only provides a brief snapshot, and we really needed to see him play in person which is often very difficult for internationals, and especially over the past couple of years with the pandemic. Luke made a big commitment to attend our ID camp in February, and he performed well which helped reinforce our evaluation. Luke plays as a center midfielder and has excellent vision and composure on the ball. He has a natural confidence that will make others feel calm and confident in getting him the ball. He rarely loses the ball and understands when to play in 2-3 touch or to draw opponents in with his dribbling. He has excellent soccer agility and avoids tackles very well. Possibly his greatest attribute is his ability to pick out forward passes in transition or when under pressure, which our forwards will absolutely love. He’s a young player, but he has the chance to compete for minutes if he can adapt to the speed and physicality of the college game.”
St. Ignatius College
Central Coast Mariners
Notes: Transfer from Fordham where he started 17 games in 2021, leading the team with 13 points (7 assists, 3 goals)… Helped the Rams win the Atlantic 10 championship in 2020.
High School: Played two years of soccer at St. Ignatius College, helping team post a pair of undefeated seasons… Two-time all-league and all-district selection… As a senior earned all-state and All-Australian recognition… Scored 13 goals and 12 added assists in his two seasons… Team captain as a senior… Also played cricket and was on track & field team… Recipient of school’s Ian Tucker Sportsman of the Year Award as a senior.
Club: Played for Central Coast Mariners, Sydney FC and Manly United… Runner up for league most valuable player in 2019 with CCM… In 85 club games, scored 33 goals and added 29 assists.
Personal: Volunteer for Starlight Children’s Foundation… Visited Sindhuli, Nepal, helping to build schools and teaching English to young students… Uncle, Chris Rogers, was a professional cricketer in Australia.
3 QUESTIONS FOR ROGERS
Biggest soccer influence? “David Beckham. Born and living in England from 2001 to 2008, he was a global superstar and icon. I wanted to be just like him.”
Do you have an idol or hero? “My dad. The sacrifices he has made for all of us, and the way he has made a life for himself is something I will always admire.”
Why Yale? “There is quite simply no place on Earth similar to Yale University. Yale offers me the unique opportunity to challenge and develop myself as a whole – academically, athletically, artistically and culturally. After visiting campus and getting acquainted with the team, I was drawn to the amazing sense of community and the world-class facilities.”
Stannard on Rogers: “I knew of Max coming out of high school. Although things didn’t work out at that time, I was very happy to hear of his interest in Yale after two stellar seasons at Fordham. Max has the potential to be the attacking piece we have been missing after losing Miguel Yuste to graduation, and then Mark Winhoffer and Andres Jasson to the lost COVID year. Max is a dynamic and creative player who has already proven he can create and score goals at this level. His set piece service is elite which will immediately add another dimension to our attack. He can strike the ball very well and will add a goal threat from outside the box. He has the ability to play on either wing or as an attacking midfielder and will help and keep our opponents guessing. If Max is fit and healthy, I expect him to be a key contributor to this program and his potential is extremely exciting.”
Sao Paulo, Brazil
St. Paul’s School
U17 Atletico Monte Azul Academy
High School: Played two seasons with St. Paul’s School in Brazil… Missed one year with injury and a second when season canceled due to pandemic… Helped lead team to league championship as a first year… Scored eight goals and added five assists in his first year… Also played basketball at St. Paul’s.
Club: Led U17 Atletico Monte Azul Academy in goals per game and assists per game in 2021… Scored in the semifinal game of the Academies Channel Tournament.
Notes: Selected to compete at the FC Barcelona School World Cup in three straight years, representing New York FC Barcelona once and Sao Paulo FC Barcelona twice.
Personal: Founder and leader with One Goal Project, a student-led non-profit which aims to make a difference in these unprecedented times by engaging young people and promoting social responsibility… Volunteered with Maos na Massa which helps people with disabilities or from underprivileged backgrounds build a house that meets their needs… Attended same high school as soon-to-be-teammate Paolo Carroll.
3 QUESTIONS FOR SCHWARTZ
Biggest soccer influence? “Neymar. He plays with flair and joy, inspires his teammates with his passion and represents the hopes of a Brazilian futebol generation.”
Do you have an idol or hero? “Kobe Bryant. I admired his tenacious mentality. He approached every minute he was awake with the intent of becoming a better player. I try to harness that same mindset in my own life.”
Why Yale? “Yale’s soccer camp this summer brought me thousands of miles from Sao Paulo, but I felt at home within the team’s environment and community. I believe the people that we surround ourselves with shape our identity. After seeing the unity, diversity, and drive of the Yale players and coaches, I have no doubt that the Yale community would both challenge and support me to grow as a person.”
Stannard on Schwartz: “Felipe comes to us from a similar pathway as rising senior Paolo Carroll. We identified him through Tiro Sports and then he attended one of our ID camps. In this setting, he became a no-brainer for us at Yale. He has soccer intelligence and savvy that is very hard to find and especially being such a phenomenal student. He is fairly two-footed and has an uncanny ability to always find his way through defenders or be able to draw a foul. He reminds me of former captain Miguel Yuste in his ability to set other players up in key areas to create goal scoring chances. Like many young players, he will need to learn to adapt to the speed and physicality of the college game but our expectations for Felipe this first year are very high. Felipe has the potential to compete for minutes right away and to add a new element to our attack.”
Horace Greeley High School
High School: Played two seasons at Horace Greeley High School… Sophomore season was canceled due to the pandemic… Helped lead team to a sectional championship and a 14-0 record as a junior… Also played tennis at Horace Greeley and was team captain in his senior year.
Club: Captain of the FC Westchester U17 Academy… Led the team in starts and minutes played… Missed the FC Westchester U19 fall season of 2021-22 with an injury.
Personal: Brothers Will (Class of 2022) played soccer at Yale as does Jonathan (Class of 2024)… Father Steven (Class of 1987) also played soccer at Yale… Volunteer at JCCA Cottage School… Qualified for History Bee and Bowl National Academic Championships… Co-founder of the Horace Greeley Blue Ocean Entrepreneurship Club.
3 QUESTIONS FOR SEIDMAN
Biggest soccer influence? “My two older soccer-playing brothers and the coaches at my club, FC Westchester. Each have contributed to my love of the game and have helped me become a more confident, thoughtful and self-assured person and player.”
Do you have an idol or hero? “As a Wolves fan, Ruben Neves is my idol for his leadership and incredible vision from central midfield, as well as his excellent work-rate.”
Why Yale? “Because it provides an incredible combination of education, athletics and community. The students and coaches are passionate about their academics, extracurriculars, and Yale Soccer. The communities within Yale College make it the perfect place to attend school and be challenged and supported by those around me, and of course I share their energy to bring an Ivy League title back where it belongs.”
Stannard on Seidman: “We are excited to add Andrew to our group to push our younger players and to add depth to the roster. He has been well coached at FC Westchester and competed in the top youth soccer league in the country. He is one of those players who does a lot of little things well that do not always get noticed. He is a good passer that rarely loses the ball and helps connect the lines. He has a strong work ethic and solid ball winning ability. Andrew comes from a soccer family and will further add to our soccer and competitive culture.”
Olathe South High School
Sporting Kansas City Academy
Club: Played exclusively with Sporting Kansas City Academy, which reached the quarterfinals of the 2021 MLS Next playoffs. Club finished in the top eight in the nation… Scored six goals and had seven assists in 15 games in the 2020-21 season… Tallied nine goals and two assists in 12 games in the 2019-20 season, which was cut short due to pandemic… Helped club reach semifinals of Concacaf Champions League.
ODP: Played with Nebraska ODP in 2016-17… Invited to ODP Regional Camp but was unable to attend due to academy commitments.
Notes: Rated as a 4-star recruit by TopDrawerSoccer.com… Member of the U20 El Salvador National Team and led the team in scoring at the Dallas Cup.
Personal: Volunteer at Mission Southside, a non-profit organization that assists people in need… Career ambition is to be an engineer.
3 QUESTIONS FOR UMANA
Biggest soccer influence? “My parents. They are the ones that got me into soccer at a very young age and have encouraged me to always push myself. I would not have achieved what I have in my life without their guidance. They both have shown me that not everything comes easy in life, but if I mimic their work ethic, it will help me grow and achieve great things in every area of my life.”
Do you have an idol or hero? “My parents. I have idolized my parents my whole life, but the biggest thing for me would be the sacrifices they have made for me. The countless hours when I was younger spent at a field were all because of their love for me and my future. On top of that, trusting me and letting me leave home at such a young age and giving up all the time we have missed in the last five years shows how much they care about me. They have given me the opportunity to achieve my dreams, which I will forever be grateful for.”
Why Yale? “Because I have put a lot of effort into my academics and athletics. Yale leads the way in both areas. A place like Yale will help me grow and provide many opportunities for my future. Along with that, the connection I have felt with the coaching staff and how they showed me the family aspect of the soccer team and campus was something I could not pass up.”
Stannard on Umana: Simply put, Alex is one of the top U19 strikers in the country, and he’s only getting better. He is the first recruit I reached out to on June 15th after his sophomore year, and it’s surreal that he will finally be on campus this August. Alex scored massive game winning goals to lift Sporting KC to a national quarterfinal run last summer and most recently he led the U20 El Salvador National Team as their leading scorer toward a runner-up finish in the legendary Gordon Jago Super Group at the Dallas Cup. He has a relentless work rate on both sides of the ball which will fit perfectly with how we want to play. I am not sure how, but he runs at the same speed in the last minute of the game as he does in the first minute. Alex has an uncanny ability to time his runs behind the backline and loves playing on the shoulder of the last defender. His mentality inside the box is exactly what you want in a striker, which is to test the goalkeeper constantly. We have some excellent strikers on the roster, but I expect Alex to compete for significant opportunities right away.”
Ellington High School
Oakwood Soccer Club
Club: Played exclusively with the Oakwood Soccer Club, which qualified for the MLS Next U17 Playoffs in 2021… Starter and captain for the 2018-2021 seasons… Selected to attend 2018-21 Northeast U.S. National Training Centers.
Personal: Volunteer as a Leader in Training for the Ellington Summer Camp… Member of Ellington High School’s Future Business Leaders of America and student council… Donated soccer balls to countries such as Fiji, Ghana and Peru… Has traveled to Italy on multiple occasions to visit relatives and has participated in several summer soccer camps, including AC Milan and Parma Calcio.
3 QUESTIONS FOR ZAFFANELLA
Biggest soccer influence? “If I had to pick a single player, I would have to say the legend Andrea Pirlo. He approached the game with such a calm and collective style of play; such a great thought process always resonated with me. I always imagined myself completing the same unbelievable passes that I watched Pirlo complete so many times before. However, my Academy coach Tom Poitras has taught me so much of the game that I now possess today, and his personality taught me many life lessons through the game of soccer. Poitras has coached me since I was 13 years old, and ever since the first day I met him; he was always someone I looked up to for advice, not only in soccer but in life.”
Do you have an idol or hero? “As many people say, my heroes are my parents. I have learned so much from both of them; they have demonstrated a great work ethic that I try to replicate. I have learned the true meaning of hard work and dedication, constant persistence, and never giving up mentality. They have taught me the meaning of sacrifice, and the struggle that comes along with everything in life, but the same principles that have made them who they are, are the same principles that I carry with me today. They are indeed my heroes, I idolize them for so much in my life, and when I look for an example in life, I always look at them.”
Why Yale? “Yale has always been my dream school. It felt like the perfect place to call home only an hour from my house. When I took that first step on campus, I knew it was the place for me, an environment surrounded by people determined and hard-working; it was a perfect match. What solidified the decision was how Coach Stannard made it feel like home. Everyone is striving for excellence and expected to compete and dedicate everything to the team. The idea that winning and winning at the highest level was what everyone sought, and this hard-working and dedicated environment was just the place that I wanted to call home.”
Stannard on Zaffanella: “Diego was our first commitment for this class and I give former assistant Bill Schmid a lot of credit for this relationship. Diego has the ability to be the most well-rounded and influential piece of this class if he maximizes his potential. I have compared Diego to a combination of two of our most influential players in the past few years, which is about the highest compliment I can give. He has played in just about every position at the club level, but we see him being able to boost our central midfield with his toughness and ball-winning while being equally strong in his ability on the ball to help us connect the lines and maintain possession for longer spells. He has a swagger and inner confidence to him that we hope can turn into important leadership. Diego has the potential to be the most influential Connecticut player in the very long history of the program.”