Philadelphia, Pa. The University of Pennsylvania men’s soccer program announced the addition of four student-athletes on Tuesday. The four newcomers hail from California, Florida, Virginia and the District of Columbia. The class consists of forward Jonathon Blackwell, midfielder Derek Hobson and defenders Joshua Hoffman and Jeffrey Livingston.
“I am very excited to add these four student-athletes to our team,” Head Coach Rudy Fuller said. “This year, we return a deep, talented and experienced group that has essentially been together for the past two years. Adding players to this group will certainly increase the competitiveness of our program. These young men all come from very successful clubs and are eager to now contribute to the success of Penn soccer in the years ahead.”
Blackwell, a 5-10 forward from Gainsville, Va. (Highland School), is a former member and captain of the Virginia Olympic Development Program 1986 Boys Team and currently plays for the Herndon Arsenal club team. He also played for DC United’s U-16, U-17, and U-19 Super Y-League team of the USL. Blackwell was named Most Outstanding Player at the Merseyside Soccer Festival in Liverpool, England, Virginia Independent School Soccer Association (VISSA) first-team all-state in 2003 as a senior and VISSA State Player of the Year in 2002 as a junior.
“Jon is a competitive, dynamic attacking player with a tremendous work ethic and strong leadership qualities,” Fuller noted. “He is a versatile player who is comfortable playing anywhere in the attack and is a very dangerous player in the final third. Over the course of this year, we’ll give him a look in a number of spots to see where he can best help our program.”
Hobson, a 5-9 midfielder from San Diego, Calif. (Francis Parker School), was the captain and center midfielder for the La Jolla Nomads White. His team was three-time State Cup Champions, two-time Western Regional Champions, Dallas Cup finalists and Nike North American Champions. His squad was one of 16 teams out of 6,000 worldwide that qualified to compete at the Nike International Premier Cup Finals in Barcelona. He earned three tournament MVP awards and was invited to attend the prestigious Adidas Elite Soccer Program. Hobson was a four-year starter at Francis Parker School and was captain and team MVP during his junior and senior years. He was named first-team all-league three times and was a two-time first-team All-California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) selection.
“Derek is a highly regarded player from the La Jolla Nomads, one of the top club programs in the country,” Fuller said. “He is a talented central midfielder that is equally adept on both sides of the ball. He covers a lot of ground defensively and has good vision and passing ability going forward. Only time will tell, but I believe he has a bright future ahead of him and he will eventually become a very influential player in our program.”
Hoffman, a 5-10 defender from Washington, D.C. (Woodrow Wilson), currently plays for the powerful Reston FC club team in Northern Virginia and helped lead the team to the finals of both the Dallas Cup and the Disney Showcase. Hoffman also plays for the DC United Youth Team, which captured the Super Y-League Regional Championships. He was a four-year starter at Woodrow Wilson High School and led the team to DCIAA Championship.
“Josh was a bit of a late bloomer and I think he was overlooked by many coaches while playing alongside some of his Reston teammates,” Fuller said. “He is an intelligent defensive player with deceptive speed and good skill. He reads the game very well and is very comfortable getting forward to join the attack. His club coaches at Reston and DC United rated him extremely high and valued his versatility as a player. I am confident he will be a good addition to our current squad.”
Livingston, a 6-3 defender from Dunedin, Fla. (Palm Harbor), plays club for the Brandon Flames and helped lead the team to the Florida state title in 2001 and the Florida final four in 2002 and 2004. He participated in the Region III Olympic Development Camp with the Dallas Burn in 2003. Livingston was a four-year letterwinner at Palm Harbor and led his team to the 2002 state title and a No. 4 national ranking. He was a two-time all-county and all-district honoree, all-state as a senior and was voted Team Defensive MVP as a junior and as a senior. Livingston was also named MVP at Florida’s Senior Soccer All-Star game.
“Jeff is a big, strong central defender,” Fuller commented. “He is a tough man-marker and a force in the air. He has played a major role in the success of his club and high school teams and I have no doubt he will have a positive influence on our program. If he continues to work hard and learn from our more experienced players, he has the potential to become a dominant centerback in our system.”
Fuller returns 16 of 17 letterwinners and 10 of 11 starters to the Penn team in 2004. The Quakers will open the season at Villanova on Sept. 5 at 1 p.m.