By Ralph Chery, Contributor |
City College lost two valuable players from last season’s championship roster due to graduation, Mostafa Haridi and Clifford Leriche. Haridi tallied 3 goals, including the game-winning header against College of Staten Island in the CUNYAC championship game, and racked four assists last year. Leriche scored in the semifinal against Brooklyn College and was a key figure in the Beavers’ defense throughout the season.
Three players currently fighting to fill in Haridi’s position in central midfield, Miguel Muniz, Kevin Muniz, and Edgar Gutierrez. At fullback, Danny Pachucho, Stylianos Markou, Francisco Ochoa and Mustapha Camara are competing to replace Leriche.
Kevin Muniz and Camara lead the race in replacing the alums after City’s second game against non-conference opponent Maritime College on Saturday.
Muniz played a full 90 against Maritime, dishing one assist and taking two shots. The sophomore was content about his first time playing a full game at the college level.
“I feel honored that my coach has confidence in me in the middle,” the sophomore said after the game against the Privateers.
Kevin Muniz during City College’s game against SUNY Oneonta last season. Photo Credit: Facebook / Kevin Muniz.
Muniz is an entirely different player from Haridi. Haridi is 6’3, serving as a tall and powerful force in the midfield. Muniz is only 5’8, and is recognized more for his agility and quickness. The sophomore believes that despite being much smaller than the graduate, he can still be a valuable player on the team.
“I want to play,” Muniz said, “I want to prove that I can play in the midfield even though I’m much smaller compared to other guys. As I always say, ‘skills and technique over physicality’, even though the physicality does help sometimes. I really need to hit the gym more, I think I can be a much better player like that.”
Captain Abdul Abdulai commented on the sophomore midfielder as well.
“I think he has a lot of potential, he’s just a kid with huge potential of being the heart of the team—he’s playing in the heart of the midfield. But yes, he has a lot to improve on,” Abdulai said. “I think he’s going to improve with a lot of games, obviously from getting a lot of experience from the games that he plays.”
Muniz was the only candidate, for replacing Haridi, who played against Maritime.
Camara is an unexpected replacement for Leriche at right back. The Gambian only played 80 minutes last season, in which he never played a single minute in the back four. Camara clocked 77 minutes playing right back in just one game against the Privateers.
“It’s not the best position for me but I got to fight and do my best for the team,” Camara said about converting to right back.
Mustapha Camara  in action against College of Staten Island in last season’s CUNYAC championship game. Photo Credit: Denis Gostev
Abdulai is confident that the sophomore will grow into a strong defender and get plenty of playing time this season.
“He’s been a midfielder all his life and now he’s being converted to a right back, so he’s still learning the position. He’s going to get better with a lot of games and a lot of coaching,” the captain said.
Other fullback candidates, Markou and Ochoa, played 19 and 65 minutes respectively.
The fight for fullback and central midfielder will continue Monday night at MSU Soccer Park, as Montclair State University hosts the Beavers.