Just three weeks after former head coach Jay Vidovich left the Wake Forest men's soccer program to sign as the coach of T2, the Portland Timbers' USL Pro affiliate, the Demon Deacons had a new head coach - Bobby Muuss, who most recently was the head coach of the University of Denver program. While it may have been a while since Muuss's name has been mentioned on campus, he served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator under Vidovich from 2001-2007, a time in which Wake made the NCAA tournament every year.
While there may not be a true replacement for Vidovich out there, thanks in large part to his 20-year legacy built at Spry Stadium, Muuss is a great fit to take the Wake soccer program forward. Denver and Winston-Salem might not exactly be next door neighbors, but there's a surprising amount of crossover. Muuss is obviously well-informed about the Wake Way, but he also coached two transfer Deacons in 2014 - graduate student Kyle Emerson and senior Teddy Mullin, who both had a sizable impact for the Pioneers. Making the Wake program his own is certainly an option for Muuss, but with his experience under Vidovich and with Wake Forest players in general, it would be surprising if he tries to reinvent the wheel. Vidovich built a program that forced each player to earn his jersey day after day, instilling an incredible amount of hard work and respect in each Demon Deacon. Where Muuss can really shine for the Demon Deacons is on the recruiting path, where he made a name for himself during his previous tenure at Wake Forest. In his six years in Winston-Salem, Muuss helped land a top-20 recruiting class every season, and that pattern looks to continue with Muuss back in North Carolina.
During his time at the University of Denver, Muuss built the Pioneers into a powerhouse, going 74-56-24 in his seven seasons, only two of those under .500. DU won the Summit League in 2013 and 2014, and made the NCAA tournament four times during his tenure, having only ever made the tournament once before, in 1970. The Pioneers currently hold a 17 game undefeated streak at home, stretching back to 2013. That kind of experience will be key as Muuss takes over the Demon Deacons, who aim to make Spry Stadium the most intimidating place to play in college soccer.
The team that Muuss will inherit come August 2015 looks largely the same to the one that fell to UMBC in the first round the NCAA tournament this past season. Thanks to the incredibly complicated way that MLS is structured, undergraduate players aren't available to go professional before their senior season - unless they're Homegrown and have spent time training with an academy affiliated with one of the MLS teams. Aside from Sam Fink and Shane Powell who both graduated, the majority of the Deacon squad should remain intact, with most of those homegrown players being either freshmen or sophomores. That's good news when that list of returning players include Ian Harkes, Michael Gamble, Jon Bakero, Kevin Politz and Kris Reaves, all of whom were serious threats on the field for the Deacs, and look to continue in that role for the coming years.
Muuss doesn't have an easy task ahead of him as he takes the reins for Wake Forest. This is a squad that has had incredible talent year after year, yet has underperformed at tournament time, missing what are admittedly extremely high goals. Wake has been, and can continue to be, a team that makes the NCAA tournament every year, and should return to the Final Four soon. With their solid lineup and strong leadership from Muuss, the Demon Deacons should be a threat for the College Cup for years to come.