Noah Singelmann’s ‘1 in 1,000’ decision has made him Syracuse’s future

first_imgNoah Singelmann left a $200,000 salary on the table. He left playing second division professional soccer in his home country of Germany. And he chose to leave the only place he ever knew.A contract in the second division of Bundesliga can be life-changing. But Singelmann, 19, didn’t want the money or the professional status. He opted to turn down hundreds of thousands of dollars. He needed to form his own path.“To be frank, it’s one in 1,000 players make that decision,” said Tony Mamodaly, founder of Mind Game Sport Management, a college soccer recruiting agency.So Singelmann’s here instead. This is his dream, not a backup plan — reaping the academic benefits of his athletic potential and spending four years in Syracuse, 3,856 miles away from his hometown of Rheinstetten, Germany. He came to the Orange (6-4-4, 1-3-2 Atlantic Coast) as a raw, central midfielder who’s now fighting the transition of German football to American soccer. But Syracuse knows what Singelmann can become.“He can be one of the cornerstones of our program over the next four years,” SU associate head coach Jukka Masalin said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textGavin Liddell | Staff PhotographerMamodaly and Masalin have a standing relationship for player recommendations — Mamodaly as a talent representative and Masalin as the Orange’s international recruiting guru. Masalin has been around the globe scouting top international recruits for Syracuse, even travelling to Costa Rica to get freshman Amferny Sinclair to commit. When Singelmann didn’t take a professional contract, Syracuse was in the picture right away. It’d worked with Mind Game Sport Management before, helping facilitate former Major League Soccer first round pick Julian Buescher’s commitment to SU from Germany. But Mamodaly was hesitant about introducing Singelmann at first, Masalin said.The 10-year, second-in-command to head coach Ian McIntyre coach did his homework. Masalin learned Singelmann could play multiple positions. Mamodaly recounts a sequence of games in U-19 Bundesliga when Singelmann started as a right back, the next game moved to center midfield, then played as a creative “No. 10” attacking midfielder. Masalin found out Singelmann had stayed with the same club team for most of his soccer career, never choosing better or bigger programs. Plus, he learned Singelmann cared more about collegiate soccer than a professional contract.Text messages turned into Skype calls. McIntyre got in on the action. Other top programs — like UCLA and Pittsburgh — were lurking, too. It was April 2019 and Masalin had to act fast. He wanted to fly to Germany to see Singelmann practice.“It’s a special thing that someone is coming to Germany just to see me,” Singelmann said.But when the two finally met in April 2019, Singelmann was surprised Masalin wasn’t always watching. He’d tried harder in warm-ups and exercises, knowing there wouldn’t be a game for him to prove himself. “I thought they were here to look at me,” Singelmann thought at the time. Masalin stood with his parents and Mamodaly, talking casually with them instead. He’d learn about Singelmann’s time in Heisenberg Gymnasium, a top academic school in the country. How he’d sometimes struggle with his GPA but prioritized it more than other athletes. Though Mamodaly would call his client’s decision to turn down a professional contract unordinary, he’d later refer to it as “mature.”“He was so convinced,” Mamodaly said. “You have a 10- to 12-year playing career, then stop because you’re too old … going to Syracuse is taking one step back for maybe three or four steps forward.”Eva Suppa | Digital Design EditorThey all sat down for dinner later that night, including Singelmann’s family. Masalin was berated with questions. Singelmann asked about the travel, the shoes he’d wear and some of the classes he’d have to take. His father, Klaus, didn’t know much English but laughed along anyway. Singelmann hadn’t known on the pitch earlier that day if Masalin was going to offer him. But Masalin doesn’t fly across the globe for just anyone, he said. The SU coach’s pitch preached loyalty, Syracuse’s success with international players and why Singelmann would be the next star to come out of the program. The three-hour meal was followed up with another the next morning with more questions and more answers. Masalin thought he’d have to wait for a decision, knowing Pittsburgh would visit Singelmann the next week to see him compete against a select FC Bayern Munich team.Masalin could’ve just been another good coach. Syracuse could’ve just been another good team. Singelmann reached out to Masalin right before the Pittsburgh visit. “I’m just going to do it as a courtesy,” Singelmann told Masalin about the visit. “I’m coming to Syracuse.”Now as a freshman, Singelmann is starting all over as he learns American soccer. He once joked to Mamoldy that he felt like he was playing a different sport. Everyone plays faster, jumps higher. If he’s in the game, he’s expected to constantly press his opponent instead of reserving his energy like he’d often do in Germany. The skills have always been there. His teammates rave about his passing abilities. McIntyre said his “calmness” to the game has stuck out. But in many ways, Singelmann still plays like a freshman. Against North Carolina, a ball came his way in the box as he tried to cover Alex Rose. Singelmann, who initially was in front of the ball, fell back as he was outmuscled by the sophomore striker, who scored easily. Now, Singelmann’s role is to jump off the bench midgame and play large chunks of time. Initially, he was seen as just a defender. Now, he plays further up the pitch at various positions. “You can tell he’s a proper German footballer,” sophomore Hilli Goldhar said.Gavin Liddell | Staff PhotographerSingelmann’s playing time to start the season had been spotty, as expected. Against Colgate, he facilitated possession in the midfield for most of the first half, and McIntyre said he regretted not playing him more in the second. Last week versus Clemson, the freshman came on in the 41st minute and played for almost the entirety of the second half. Singelmann knows it’s not his turn to put up statistics, like Ryan Raposo or Massimo Ferrin. That will come. There was one game, however, where Singelmann wasn’t just a prospect for the future. Syracuse hosted Cornell, and for the fourth consecutive game, the Orange went to overtime. The previous three had resulted in ties.It was the 98th minute and Singelmann had stayed in the game at forward. On the sidelines, a throw-in came his way down the right sideline. He turned his back from the net, weaved the ball back-and-forth to throw off his defender and fired a left-footed shot off the far-left post and into the goal.But for a second, Singelmann didn’t know his first collegiate score was actually a game-winner. Because in Germany, there was no golden goal rule. His teammates mobbed him. Eventually, the confusion turned to relief. “I just needed the weeks in the beginning to figure everything out,” Singelmann said. “Now, I’ve arrived.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 23, 2019 at 10:24 pm Contact KJ: [email protected] | @KJEdelmanlast_img