MSoc: Gauchos add two experienced transfers

The UC Santa Barbara men’s soccer program has welcomed a pair of transfers in Josue España (formerly of Florida International University) and Randy Mendoza (Cal State Los Angeles) for the 2015 season, it was announced today by head coach Tim Vom Steeg.

“These two players are going to be able to step onto the field and make a contribution immediately,” said Vom Steeg. “They add both quality and depth to our exisiting roster.”

España, a midfielder entering his junior season, made 30 appearances and tallied two goals and two assists during his time at FIU. Before heading to Miami, he was regarded as one of the top prospects in the entire country for the 2012 recruiting class.

In 2012, he was named the Newark Star-Ledger Prep Player of the Year after potting 11 goals and 16 assists while leading his team to a state title. He also played for the prestigious Player Development Academy during his time in the Garden State. España burst onto the soccer scene in his native California, making 21 appearances for the LA Galaxy U-15/16 Academy team in 2011.

“Josue is a premier two-way midfielder,” said Vom Steeg. “His attacking abilities and vision on the field are excellent and very reminiscent of [former Gaucho great and current D.C. United star] Luis Silva. I know that Josue is excited to come back to California and complete the last two years of his college career.”

Meanwhile, Mendoza is a defender coming off his true freshman season at Cal State LA, where he started all 21 of the team’s games en route to a 15-4-2 season and a West Regional Championship.

“Randy is a real quality player who had a breakout year as a true freshman at Cal State LA,” said Vom Steeg. “He started every game for one of the top Division II squads in the country. The addition of Randy to our program will allow us flexibility to play [junior All-American] Ismaila Jome at different positions besides left back.”

A lockdown defender, Mendoza logged 1,937 minutes on the pitch for the Golden Eagles, the most of any outfield player on the roster. With him on the back line, CSULA put together the lowest goals-against-average in Division II soccer at 0.41. Despite all that time on the field, he accrued just one yellow card on the season.

Prior to his freshman campaign, Mendoza was the top player at Santa Paula High School. He was twice named First Team All-County, and after his senior year he was named Team MVP and league defensive MVP. Having played with Santa Barbara Soccer Club – including the 2014 U-18 US Youth Soccer National Championship team – he is a familiar player to the local soccer community.

Heading into this season, España possesses two more years of Division I eligibility while Mendoza has three years.

The duo joins UCSB’s previously announced group of transfers, including prolific forwards Kevin Feucht (Charleston) and Ahinga Selemani (Michigan), who was dubbed the “most high-profile transfer” of the offseason by Top Drawer Soccer.

Altogether, UCSB’s recruiting class of incoming transfers and freshmen garnered a No. 5 national ranking from Top Drawer, tops in the Big West. The newcomers should help bolster a squad that won the Big West regular season championship in 2014 for the eighth time since the conference reinstituted men’s soccer in 2001.