Defensive catalyst aims to leave mark

Sophomore center back provides a strong backbone in the defensive third

Comet+sophomore+centerback+Bradley+Alman+warms+up+before+CCC%27s+3-1+win+against+Chabot+College+on+the+Soccer+Field+on+Friday.

Qing Huang / The Advocate

Comet sophomore centerback Bradley Alman warms up before CCC's 3-1 win against Chabot College on the Soccer Field on Friday.

By Lorenzo Morotti, Editor-in-Chief

Teamwork and communication within the defensive backline in professional soccer is sacred.

A professional team without a strong voice resonating from the defensive third of the field will struggle as the season unfolds. This rule is also true for any soccer team, even at the community college level.

The men’s soccer program at Contra Costa College fortunately has a center back this season whose characteristics fit the criteria of a professional player.

Nineteen-year-old CCC sophomore Bradley Alman played for the U-13 (age 13 and under) Diablo Football Club (DFC) in 2008, when it won the North American Youth League’s Super Y League North American tournament. Alman was also a part of the East Bay all-star high school team as a senior.

DFC is a soccer club partnered with the San Jose Earthquakes and the U.S. soccer development program based out of Walnut Creek. It has produced world-class players such as U.S. Men’s National Team striker Chris Wondolowski.

CCC coach Nikki Ferguson said there is no question of Alman’s commitment to the success of the soccer program.

“He understands the importance of leaving his own legacy when his eligibility is up (at CCC). (The coaching staff) hopes he can walk away with confidence that the program is better when he exits than when he entered,” Ferguson said.

When Alman first joined the team in 2013. He said he did not know anyone and it took time to settle into the team.

“I think I’m the only guy to come out of Berean (Christian High School) who went to CCC.”

Coming back to the team as sophomore was easier. He said he now feels fully accepted into the Comet soccer family.

“I love soccer,” Alman said. “I love the team and the atmosphere created by a team working together to reach a certain goal.”
Comet freshman striker Bryan Vega said, “(Alman) doesn’t quit. He is very aggressive in the back and has a big voice. He is always looking up and checking in with everyone. I play all the way up front as a (striker) and I can still hear him yelling at me to get back in position.”

Comet freshman Nicolas Bob said he played against Alman in a high school all-star game and alongside him when they were both part of the U-13 DFC team.

“I played every sport besides football and hockey growing up,” Alman said. “Soccer was the one I was best at, so I stuck with it.”

Bob said, “It was really difficult. When we were younger (Alman) was a lot smaller than I was at the time, but by junior year in high school he wasn’t. It was like (Alman) transformed into a whole different player.”

Alman graduated from Berean Christian High School in Walnut Creek in 2013. He played varsity for BCHS as a junior and scored one goal. Alman said he rejected offers from San Diego State, Cal State-Sacramento and decided to enroll at Diablo Valley College after not getting into Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.

During games, the defensive backline has to react to quick counter-attacks down the left and right wings of the field, which, if left unguarded, can allow threatening crosses into the penalty area.

Alman seems to know exactly where he needs to be positioned to either leap above or punt the ball clear of attacking players’ reach.
Comet assistant coach Andres Orejuela said, “(Alman) clears the ball 100 percent or even 200 percent of the time.

“When I played soccer, my position was goalkeeper and I always wished I had a player like (Alman) on my team.”
Bob said he has been put into the center back position by the Comet coaching staff, but he said he is more comfortable playing as a center defensive midfielder, just above the defensive backline.

“I feel more comfortable when (Alman) is behind me. He is the backbone of the defense and I play better knowing I have someone who I can trust if the play gets past me.”

Alman has neutralized a staggering number of crosses and filtered passes sent into the defensive third of the field throughout the course of non-conference play during the 2014 season, but he is also capable of scoring.

Bob said his most memorable moment was when Alman scored a right-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area against Chabot College on Sept. 19.

“I know when (Alman) sets up for a shot he must be really confident he can score. So when he turned and blasted it in, it was pretty amazing,” Bob said.

Ferguson said Alman’s main role is to help maintain good organization defensively, while providing depth during possessions to create moments for the team move into the attacking third.

Bob said Alman rarely talks about a future where he is playing at the professional level.

“A bunch of us on the team are always encouraging him to contact scouts. (Alman) can play at the D-1 level. He has the potential. Hopefully he listens.”

Orejuela agrees. He said, “(Alman) is ready at the next level.”