Men’s soccer’s 2020-21 recruiting class ranked No. 8 in nation


Photo courtesy of San Diego State Athletics

San Diego State men’s soccer’s new midfielder Iñigo Villaldea Eraña (left) played for Sporting de Gijón youth academy the past two seasons. Last year, he tallied nine goals and three assists.

by Brandon Freed, Staff Writer

San Diego State men’s soccer signed Iñigo Villaldea Eraña on June 16, boosting their recruiting class to No. 8 in the nation for the 2020-21 season, according to Top Drawer Soccer.

Eraña, born and raised in Gijón, Spain, played for Sporting de Gijón youth academy the past two seasons. The 6-foot center midfielder ended up registering 12 points in 16 starts last year, scoring nine goals and adding three assists. Eraña has helped Sporting de Gijón finish second place in their league for the past two seasons.

The Aztecs entered the 2019 season ranked as the No. 12 recruiting class last season but still ended up with a losing record of 4-12-2.

Head coach Ryan Hopkins said the team isn’t focused on how well they recruited, but rather execution.

“The group of guys we got are all great players,” Hopkins told The Daily Aztec. “We got two international guys that bring with them professional experience and they fill the roles we desperately need, but that doesn’t mean anything unless the team works together and plays as one unit.”

Other recruits the Aztecs acquired include forward Eloge Iradukunda and defender Fritz Oestreicher.

Iradukunda, a Mozambique native, came to the United States when he was 11 years old. Last year, he played for University of California San Diego Preuss School as a junior forward and was named to the All-CIF first team. In the past two seasons, he was named league MVP. Iradakunda has led his team to three straight league championships.

Oestreicher is a 6-foot-1 defender from Darmstadt, Germany who last played for the Kickers Offenbach in the Bundesliga U-19 League. He has also experienced playing for the German national team. Oesteicher is a skilled defender who likes to push the ball up the field quickly.

Hopkins is looking forward to getting to know and have an impact on each of his new players.

“I want to make sure that our new recruits are able to adjust to the college life on and off the field and are able to grow into the best versions of themselves,” Hopkins said. “I want to make sure they are able to compete at the collegiate level on the field. Off the field, I want them to do well in their extracurricular activities, do well in the classroom and make sure they’re able to adjust being away from home for the first time.”

Hopkins is motivated to get this team on the right track through quick play.

“I like to play the rock ‘n’ roll style of soccer going fast tempo and pushing the pace up the field,” Hopkins said. “Teams that are willing to do that and put in the maximum effort and make sacrifices for each other are the most successful.”

Last year, SDSU scored 19 but gave up 37 goals in 18 total games. In Pac-12 Conference play, the team finished with the worst record at 1-9 while conceding 22 goals and scoring 6.

“With our new style of play, we will not be giving up this many goals this year,” Hopkins said.

Senior midfielder Tevenn Roux said being ranked No. 8 in the recruiting class doesn’t mean much unless the freshmen are able to make an impact on the pitch.

“Don’t get me wrong, the players we’re bringing in are all versatile players,” Roux said. “Our recruits will allow us to have more depth this year, but to be honest, it won’t mean anything unless they can execute and be team players at the collegiate level.”

However, Roux said the new arrivals have already been able to gel with the team.

“With coach Ryan, our chemistry is already way better than it was before,” Roux said. “We’ve had many Zoom calls already and we’re working out together. We all have the goal of playing as a team and for each other, rather than ourselves.”