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Five Zips - including Speas - picked for U.S. U-18 team

By mikeb Published: April 14, 2009

Five University of Akron men’s soccer players have been selected by the U.S. Under-18 men’s national team to train in Carson, Calif., from Apr. 18-26, Zips head coach Caleb Porter announced.

The five UA players are rising sophomore Kofi Sarkodie and incoming freshmen Chad Barson, Scott Caldwell, Ben Speas and Zarek Valentin. The quintet already has played within the U.S. national team system.

Speas is currently a senior at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy. He is the eighth-ranked prospect in the nation according to ESPN Rise.com and has played with U-18 and U-17 teams. The midfielder is a two-time Parade All-American (2007, 2008), an NSCAA High School Boys All-American in 2008 and an adidas ESP All-Star in 2007.

The U.S. U-18 team is comprised of 26 players from across the country all born on or after January 1, 1991. The team plays in against other countries and top college programs in the U.S.

Sarkodie, a Soccer America Freshman All-American and All-Mid-American Conference First Team pick last fall, started all 23 games for UA in 2008 as a defender. He helped the Zips to the best defensive season in school history with a team goals-against-average of 0.45, the top mark in the nation.

He scored a goal in his first collegiate game to help Akron defeat then-ranked No. 3 Notre Dame, 3-0, in the season opener and added two assists as the season progressed.

Barson, Caldwell, Speas and Valentin are part of UA's top-ranked 2009 recruiting class.

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