Virginia's Albright Headed to MLS
July 14, 1999
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Rising junior forward Chris Albright will notreturn to the University of Virginia this fall, and instead will enterMajor League Soccer. The announcement was made here Tuesday by Albright andUVa men’s soccer head coach George Gelnovatch.
“We’re probably losing this season’s college soccer player of theyear. I don’t have any problem in saying that,” Gelnovatch said. “But we’retrying to do what’s best for the individual player. This only creates anopportunity for the next Chris Albright to step in, whoever that may be.”
Albright, a product of Philadelphia’s William Penn Charter HighSchool, led the Cavaliers in scoring last season with 20 goals, thefourth-highest single-season total in school history. He also led the teamwith 43 points, which tied three other former Cavaliers for thefifth-highest single-season total ever at UVa.
For his accomplishments as a sophomore, Albright was namedfirst-team All-America by NCSAA, College Soccer Weekly and Soccer America.
He was a first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference after twice being namedconference player of the week, and he was a finalist for the prestigiousMAC award.
As a freshman in 1997, Albright earned Freshman All-America honorsfrom Soccer America and Soccer News after netting 11 goals to go along withseven assists. He played in all 26 games for UVa as a first-year, primarilyas a flank midfielder. Albright was a member of the 1997 ACC All-Tournamentteam and scored the game-winner against American in the NCAA quarterfinals.
“Chris did very well with the national team a couple of weeks agoin D.C.,” Gelnovatch said. “He impressed a lot of people, including myself,and he proved that he can play on that level. The way his contract will bestructured, he’s going to make a lot of money playing soccer. If soccerdoesn’t work out, school will be paid for.”
The Cavaliers enjoyed a 35-8-6 mark in Albright’s two seasons andadvanced to the 1997 NCAA Championship game after winning the ACCTournament. Albright finished his career in the Orange and Blue with 31goals (11th all-time at UVa) and 72 points (12th).
Albright becomes the fifth UVa player to enter the MLS via Project40. He will also join the 18 fellow Cavalier products currently on MLSrosters.
“We’ve lost six guys early over the past six years,” Gelnovatchsaid. “I treat every case on an individual basis. It’s something (thecoaches) discuss with the player and his family. It’s not an overall policyof mine to say, ‘Yes, leave school and go into professional soccer.’
“In the case of all the guys who have left, they’re all doing well,playing for their respective teams and making process. They’re allguaranteed their education if soccer doesn’t work out and they’re allgetting better as soccer players.”
With Albright’s departure, the Cavaliers will return five of 11starters and 12 of 18 from last season’s national quarterfinalist team thatfinished with a 16-4-3 record. One of those returning starters will beUVa’s other scheduled starter on the front line – sophomore Sheldon Barnes,who played injured throughout the majority of the 1998 season.
“The saving grace is that we recruited a top forward in RyanGibbs,” Gelnovatch said. “It would have really left us in a tough spot ifwe had not gotten a top forward. But Ryan will still be just a freshman.The other forward (Barnes) is a sophomore who played injured last year, sothere are still some questions there.
“We’ll keep bringing in good classes and playing good soccer. Theway Project 40 is set up makes it harder to win championships, but we’regoing to continue to display great young talent.”
The Cavaliers will begin their march to a sixth nationalchampionship Aug. 27 and 28 with a pair of exhibition matches againstRutgers and Connecticut, respectively, in College Park, Md. UVa’s regularseason will open the following weekend with the Coca-Cola Classic atKl?ckner Stadium.
Comments from the press conference can be heard tonight on theCavalier Sportsline.