San Jose, Calif. - San Jose State University head men’s soccer coach Gary St. Clair has announced the signing of seven prospects to a National Letter-of-Intent for the 2007 season, with no fewer than five of them bringing different levels of Olympic Development Program experience to the Spartans.
Zlatko Bijelic, Bernabe Camacho, Justin Castro, Ricky Dorrego, Robert Jackson, Kachiside Madu and Brent Young will be joining St. Clair’s squad for his 18th year at the helm of his alma mater. Dorrego, Camacho and Young have played together this past year for the Region IV team of the Olympic Development Program (ODP). Castro and Jackson play on state teams for California and Nevada, respectively.
Bijelic, Camacho, Castro, Dorrego and Madu are all currently at California high schools. Bijelic, Castro and Dorrego attend schools locally in San Jose, with Bijelic and Castro teammates at nearby Archbishop Mitty High School. Jackson and Young are both Las Vegas, Nev., high school products.
“I think that this is the best recruiting class that we have had since 2001,” remarks St. Clair. “With the young players that we (already) have in the program, this is a very good, complimentary group to that. What we have accomplished is two things this year. For one, we have finalized the foundation for the next two or three seasons. The other thing that I wanted to do, was to increase the overall team speed and athleticism. I think that we certainly did that.
“The highlight of this year’s class is the three Region IV players. They are legitimate regional players. We have two more state team players, and we also have last year’s “Junior of the Year” in the Central Coast Section.
“Everyone in this class has the ability to help us immediately. Clearly, it is going to be up to them, how well they do and how quickly they do it, but they all have the quality to play right away.”
THREE REGION IV TEAMMATES COMMIT TO SPARTANS
The first of the regional players in the 2007 class is Ricky Dorrego, a San Jose native out of Lincoln High School. A four-year member of the varsity soccer team at Lincoln, Dorrego was the “Freshman of the Year” in the Blossom Valley Athletic League and was a second-team All-BVAL selection as a sophomore. Honored as the BVAL “Most Valuable Player” his junior season, he led Lincoln to the BVAL Santa Teresa Division title and a CCS quarterfinal appearance with 22 goals and 13 assists.
Prior to his 2006 selection to the Region IV squad, Dorrego was involved in ODP through the District II team in 2003, 2004 and 2005, and the Cal-North state team in 2005 and 2006. In 2004, he played four games with the Mexican national team at the under-15 level. At the club level, he played with SIPD-America since 2003, prior to joining the San Francisco United U-18 in the fall of 2006.
“Ricky is one of the best outside midfield prospects in the country,” notes St. Clair. “He’s quick. He’s fast. He reads the game extremely well. He crosses the ball very well. He is a fixture on the Region IV team. There are four regions in the country, and they make up the national team, so he is just below that level. Ricky will certainly have an opportunity to come in and play immediately. I think he has the capability of doing that.”
Bernabe Camacho is the second regional player who will be joining the Spartans in the fall. He is currently at Aptos High School after attending school and playing soccer the previous three seasons at Watsonville High School. Camacho was chosen to the Cal-North state team before landing a spot on the Region IV team in 2005-06. With Region IV, he traveled to the Disney Soccer Showcase in Orlando, Fla., to face the U-17 national teams of Japan and Spain. Rise Magazine recently named him to an 11-player Bay Area All-Area squad. Camacho has played club soccer for SCC Atlas, with whom he won the 2002-03 Northern California State Cup and Super Y-League title, and for SCC Breakers, with whom he won the Super Y-League Pacific title and moved on to the semifinal round at Nationals.
Says St. Clair, “Bernabe can play just about anywhere in midfield. He is out of Aptos High School, but played three years previous to that at Watsonville (High School), which is a Central Coast (Section) powerhouse. He is a Region IV starter, and was also one of only about 50 or 60 players nationwide who were invited to the adidas ESP (Elite Soccer Program) last year, which is an invitation-only event run by adidas every summer. It’s a camp where (Major League Soccer) coaches go and train the kids. Without question, it is a top event. If you make it to that, you are pretty good.”
The third and final Region IV player that has signed with the Spartans is Brent Young, out of Las Vegas, Nev., and Bishop Gorman High School. A member of the Nevada ODP state squad ahead of advancing to the regional ranks, Young was a four-year varsity letterwinner and starter on the soccer team at Bishop Gorman. He is a two-time all-state and two-time first-team All-Southern Nevada Section honoree. Bishop Gorman was the Nevada state champion in 2006-07. Young plays his club soccer for Neusport ’90, a four-time state champion.
“Brent can play as both a striker and as a wide midfield player,” says St. Clair. “He is extremely fast and extremely quick. He plays for, again, Region IV of the regional teams. He, Ricky and Bernabe, all are players with a lot of quickness and experience.”
PAIR OF CURRENT STATE TEAM PROSPECTS ALSO JOIN
Robert Jackson is a current ODP state team player in Nevada. The native of Las Vegas, Nev., attends Las Vegas High School, where he was a four-year letterwinner on the soccer team. Jackson has led the team in scoring in all four seasons, totaling 111 goals during his career, including a Nevada single-season record of 41 goals as a senior. The two-time All-Southern Nevada Section honoree was also both a division and conference “Most Valuable Player” in his senior season. Las Vegas High School was a state semifinalist in 2006. Jackson has played his club soccer for Las Vegas Premier since 2003, helping the team to state titles in all three years. He has been a member of seven state championship teams in all (1999-2000, 2002-06).
“Robert is a state team player from Nevada,” says St. Clair. “He is another player who is very fast and quick. He is a striker, and can also play on the outside, in midfield. He is a proven goal-scorer at the high school and state level.”
Zlatko Bijelic is a 6-1 midfielder out of Milpitas, Calif. He earned numerous honors as a junior on the Mitty soccer team in 2006, including first-team All-Central Coast Section, CCS “Junior of the Year,” CCS “Defender of the Year,” first-team All-West Catholic Athletic League and WCAL “Defender of the Year.” The three-year varsity player has also been an NSCAA/adidas All-Region VIII and All-San Jose Mercury News choice. Like Camacho, he was recently named by Rise Magazine as a Bay Area All-Area honoree, as well as a “Prime Time Player.” Bijelic, a District II ODP performer in 2002-03, plays his club soccer for the De Anza Force Blue 87.
Comments St. Clair, “Zlatko did not play ODP (last year). He did not go out for it, or he probably would be on the regional team as well. He is a holding midfielder, and can play anywhere on the back line. I’m not quite sure where he is going to (play for us), but he is strong, athletic and very good in the air. He is another kid that certainly has the ability to play early in his career.”
Justin Castro is a member of the Cal-North state team. He is teammates with Bijelic at Archbishop Mitty High School. The duo helped Mitty to WCAL and CCS titles in 2006, with Castro earning All-WCAL honorable mention. He plays his club soccer for the West Valley Cobras, under former Spartan goalkeeper Eddie Dominguez. The Cobras are ranked third in the state.
“Justin played on the Cal-North team, and started for them. I would probably call him a scheming or attacking midfielder. He has very, very good touch, very good vision, and can score goals. He is very good on free kicks. His technique is excellent. We need central midfielders. Between him, Zlatko and Bernabe, we now have that.”
Kachiside Madu is a player out of Sacramento, Calif., and Valley High School. As a captain of the Valley soccer team, he led the team in assists as a junior. He plays his club soccer for the U-17 Davis Legacy Gunners, and is a co-captain. The team was a finalist at both the 2006 regionals and the Pateadores Cup. Madu also traveled to Italy with them in 2005 and won the Italian Valtellina Cup. In addition to soccer, he runs track and field and was the kicker on the football team at Valley High School.
Madu is the younger brother of Utodi Madu, a three-time All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation honoree at Sacramento State who concluded his collegiate career this past season.
“Kachiside has a bright future in our program,” says St. Clair. “He is a player that will come in and get bigger, stronger and better. We recruited him because down the road, he is going to be a very good player at this level. If he is ready to play this fall, then more power to him.”
2007 San Jose State University Men’s Soccer Signees
Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown/Last School
Zlatko Bijelic MF/D 6-1 190 Milpitas, Calif./Archbishop Mitty HS
Bernabe Camacho MF 5-7 145 Watsonville, Calif./Aptos HS
Justin Castro MF 5-8 165 San Jose, Calif./Archbishop Mitty HS
Ricky Dorrego MF 5-7 145 San Jose, Calif./Lincoln HS
Robert Jackson F 5-6 152 Las Vegas, Nev./Las Vegas HS
Kachiside Madu D 6-0 175 Sacramento, Calif./Valley HS
Brent Young F/MF 5-7 160 Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman HS