BERKELEY - The California Golden Bears men’s soccer program has seen its share of success on the field in Berkeley, most notably following their successful 2013 season. With success at the collegiate level, usually comes success for some former Bears at the next level and that is true when it comes to the 16 former Bears currently playing professionally, 13 of which are currently on Major League Soccer rosters. So where are some of your favorite former Bears now? How have they been doing during the 2014 season? Have no fear, CalBears.com has you covered. We will focus on a couple of former Bears throughout the course of their seasons to make sure you know how they are doing, because as you know, #OnceABearAlwaysABear.
As the MLS season continues its run through summer, several former Bears are seeing a lot of time on the field, being counted on by their clubs. None more so than former Cal goalkeeper Stefan Frei of the Seattle Sounders. Frei, who tended the net for the Bears from 2006-08, joined the Sounders this past offseason in a trade from Toronto FC (whom he spent five seasons with). Frei has played every minute of all 19 matches thus far for Seattle and is a major reason that the Sounders lead the Supporter’s Shield race. The former Bear has compiled a 12-5-2 record with an impressive goals-against average of 1.42 with six shutouts and figures to be counted on during Seattle’s playoff run.
Another goalkeeper who called Edwards Stadium his home is Sporting Kansas City’s Eric Kronberg (2004-05). Unfortunately for the defending MLS Cup champions, he is currently out of commission with a fractured bone in his left hand. Despite his current injury status, which will likely keep him out of action through early September, Kronberg has been incredible in 2014. In 17 starts, he is 7-5-5 with a league-leading goals-against-average of 0.88 and is tied for the MLS lead in shutouts with seven. He was also named MLS Player of the Month for the month of June, when he became the first goalkeeper to earn that distinction since 2011.
As far as field players go, New England Revolution center back A.J. Soares (2007-10) has been in the thick of the Revs’ resurgence that has them on 26 points, currently in third place in the Eastern Conference. He has made 20 starts for New England in 2014 and has scored a pair of goals and has added one assist. Soares is always a threat on set pieces, as evidenced by his goal last weekend against the Columbus Crew to pull the Revs level in the 30th minute (Watch it here).
Speaking of the Crew, another former Bear calls Ohio’s state capital home: Hector Jimenez (2006-10). Jimenez was acquired by the Crew from the Los Angeles Galaxy prior to the 2014 MLS SuperDraft. Like Kronberg in Kansas City, unfortunately Jimenez is out until late August/early September with a grade two medial collateral ligament tear in his right knee. That said he was a key cog in central midfield for the Crew up until his injury on July 4 against the Colorado Rapids. He has appeared in 15 matches for the Crew, has scored one goal and has tallied three assists for the Eastern Conference’s fifth place team, which is the final playoff position. When Jimenez returns, he is a key ingredient in their success during the final stages of their regular season.
To keep an eye on all of the former Bears currently playing in MLS and their progress throughout the 2014 season, click here. A rookie report on the three Bears from the 2013 team is forthcoming, so stay tuned to CalBears.com for an update on D.C. United’s Steve Birnbaum, Whitecaps FC’s Christian Dean and the New England Revolution/Rochester Rhinos’ Alec Sundly in the coming weeks as the 2014 Cal men’s soccer season approaches.
The Bears open their 2014 campaign on the road on Friday, Aug. 29 in Chapel Hill, when they take on the University of North Carolina. A matchup with another perennial power, Wake Forest in Winston-Salem on Sunday, Aug. 31 follows before the Bears return to Berkeley to open their home slate against Cleveland State on Friday, Sept. 12 at 1 p.m. PT on Goldman Field at Edwards Stadium.