AKRON, Ohio (WJW) — It’s been nearly ten years since DeAndre Yedlin was a star athlete, attending the University of Akron. It’s been eight years for former Zip great, Richie Laryea.

However, their impact on the school’s soccer program has continued far beyond their time as a Zip. 

Akron Men’s Soccer Head Coach, Jard Embick, beams with pride talking about both former players, who are now both competing in the FIFA World Cup.

DeAndre representing United States: 

“I’ll never forget one of his first moments when he played and we got him down the flank and he opened up his legs, showing how fast he was … the crowd was like ‘WOW,'” shared Embick. 

Richie representing Canada: 

“Richie was one that played midfield for us and just skated by guys. He was a feisty guy, drawing a lot of fouls and PK’s,” said Embick. 

But what we all see on the world’s stage today, was developed years ago as a Zip. For Yedlin, the challenge was adjusting to a new position in college. 

“For us to be able to start that process of his development and showcase his ability, he has recognized how much that meant to his career,” explained Embick. 

For Laryea, adjusting to life in college itself.

“He came as a kid that had some growing up to do. There were some issues there where we had to work through some classroom stuff but he was eager, he took the lessons,” said Embick. 

Coach Embick says you can’t possibly project a player will someday represent an entire country at the World Cup, because it’s an opportunity few in the sport will ever achieve. 

However, when it does happen, the inspiration is endless.

“To see those two guys there and know that you worked with them here, and had a part of their development, helped them develop to the world’s biggest stage, everyone is just thrilled to death,” explained Embick.