MLS SuperDraft

Alex Bono Signs as Fourth Generation Adidas Player

The six-foot-three Syracuse goalkeeper has been overlooked by U.S. national teams in recent years, but his outrageously good 2014 season was hard to miss. He will be part of this year's MLS SuperDraft.
BY Brooke Tunstall Posted
January 07, 2015
9:23 PM
ALEX BONO IS FINALLY GETTING recognized for being one of the top goalkeepers in college soccer, and will be getting paid as a result.

Long overlooked by the United States youth national teams despite a standout career at Syracuse that has seen him lead the Orange to national prominence, Bono has agreed to terms with Major League Soccer on a Generation Adidas deal and will leave school a year early.

Bono—pronounced like Sonny, not U2’s bike-riding lead singer—becomes the fourth player to agree to a Generation Adidas deal this year, joining Connecticut forward Cyle Larin, Washington midfielder Cristian Roldan, and Central Florida forward Romario Williams.

At six-foot-three, Bono has a prototypical goalkeeper’s build and the cat-like reflexes to go with them. He came to Syracuse from nearby Baldwinsville, N.Y., and despite playing a position where freshmen rarely play, let alone dominate, he made an immediate impact.

He posted a 0.85 goals-against-average and was named the top freshman goalkeeper in the country by Top Drawer Soccer and Soccer America while leading Syracuse to the sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, the best finish in program history. Despite his strong showing, the calls from the youth national teams never came as U.S. U-20 national team head coach Tab Ramos and goalkeeping coach Russell Payne opted to take a look at the likes of Penn State’s Andrew Wolverton, Northwestern’s Tyler Miller, and Santa Clara’s Kendall McIntosh instead.

Bono’s sophomore season Syracuse jumped to the Atlantic Coast Conference, the most competitive conference in college soccer. While the team labored to a 10-7-1 record, Bono was named third-team all-ACC after a 1.03 goals against average. Despite being one of the best goalkeepers in the best conference in college soccer in 2013, no calls came last summer when the U.S. U-23 national team gathered for a pair of camps.

This fall, Bono made that look dubious with one of the more dominant seasons from a goalkeeper in recent college soccer history. He allowed just one goal the first 10 games of the season and finished the year with a 0.55 goals-against-average and .848 save percentage, both among the tops in college soccer, and led the Orange back to the Sweet 16. He was named the ACC’s defensive player of the year, a consensus first-team All-American by multiple outlets, and is a finalist for the Hermann trophy. If he wins the Hermann, given to the top player in college soccer, he would be just the third goalkeeper to do so, joining iconic U.S. goalkeepers Tony Meola and Brad Friedel.

During Bono’s senior year of high school, his youth club, Empire United, signed an affiliation agreement with the New England Revolution and became Empire Revolution and through this agreement Bono was able to train with the club however the affiliation happened too late for the Revolution to have a homegrown claim on Bono.

“No, we don’t have a claim on him because the affiliation didn’t happen in time,” Revolution general manager Michael Burns told ASN before MLS Cup. “He’s come and trained with us and showed well and we’d like to have him but we don’t have a claim.”

Thus Bono will enter into next week’s draft as the top goalkeeping prospect. While no teams have a glaring need for a starting goalkeeper, sources close to Bono said that as much as the terms of a contract offer from MLS, he was seeking assurances that there were clubs interested in drafting and developing him before he agreed to terms.

He apparently got those assurances. Also: New England, Montreal, Seattle, and Portland are, according a source, very high on Bono, who will now be in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. for MLS’ annual scouting combine, which begins Friday, though Bono isn't expect until after Friday's Hermann ceremony. ASN will be covering the combine and will be posting updates beginning Thursday evening.

Tell us what you think of this signing in the Comments section below.

Brooke Tunstall is an American Soccer Now contributing editor and ASN 100 panelist. You can follow him on Twitter.

Post a comment