CSUB

Saturday, Feb 11 2012 09:56 PM

MLS can wait: Zardes coming back to CSUB

BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer jevans@bakersfield.com

CSU Bakersfield will get at least one more men's soccer season from Gyasi Zardes.

Zardes, a high-scoring forward with two years of eligibility remaining, has decided to delay his professional aspirations for at least another year and will return to CSUB for this fall's season, CSUB coach Simon Tobin confirmed Saturday.

Zardes, 20, finished with 18 goals and two assists in 19 games for CSUB last season. He ranked fourth in the nation in goals per game (0.90) and was seventh in total points (38).

He had the opportunity to sign a contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer as a Homegrown Player -- he's from Hawthorne in the Los Angeles area -- and turned down a reported $100,000 offer from the Galaxy. That was reported by Fox News Latino on Thursday.

"That's close to the figure," CSUB coach Simon Tobin said Saturday, who said Zardes had been leaning on staying at CSUB most of the off-season.

Zardes could not be reached for comment on Saturday.

Tobin said he and Zardes met with Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, telling him that Zardes preferred to stay in school for another year.

"If he works hard, he can be finished with his degree, or come close," said Tobin, referring to the upcoming season. "He can make very, very good money after another college season."

Some comments sections from web reports announcing Zardes' decision question the wisdom of turning down $100,000. Tobin said the money will be there after next season.

"The money thing is not an issue," Tobin said. "He can go to Sweden tomorrow for the same money. Four or five college kids have gone there the last couple of years."

Contracts can include college funds, but Tobin said that doesn't guarantee players will take advantage of it.

"People say you should sign, that you can always go back to school," Tobin said. "But some don't. It's hard to go back and get into that same mentality once you've gone away. ... Once you leave, you don't necessarily go back."

Zardes did not declare for the MLS draft, so he was not eligible to be selected, Tobin said.

The Galaxy already has two high-powered and high-salaried forwards in David Beckham and Robbie Keane, Tobin noted.

"The Galaxy is a great team and it's flattered to be considered by them," Tobin said. "But there's not a reserve league in the U.S.

"The Galaxy has David Beckham and Robbie Keane so it would have been hard for him to get a lot of playing time in the early time of his (pro) career. It probably helps his development playing one more college year.

"When the MLS builds up a reserve league process, that's another situation."

Zardes, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Men's Soccer Player of the Year, helped CSUB to a 12-4-5 season. The men's soccer team became the first program in CSUB's history to earn an NCAA Tournament berth.

Zardes earned several other postseason awards and was one of 15 semifinalists for the Hermann Trophy, the most prestigious individual award in intercollegiate soccer.

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