By Maddie Mulkigian, Asst. Sports Editor
The Manhattan College Men’s Soccer team’s continuous success in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) halfway through its conference schedule is a true reflection of the heavy recruiting head coach Jorden Scott accomplished following the end of the team’s 2021 fall season.
Along with Gunnar Studenhofft, Scott recruited Nassim Akki from Bordeaux, France to represent Manhattan College on the pitch starting in 2022. Similar to Studenhofft, Akki began his adjustment to Manhattan College and life in The Bronx in the spring 2022 semester.
“I attended a showcase game in Paris in December as part of the FFFUSA program through the French Football Federation and during that game Coach Jorden was in attendance,” Akki said. “He got in touch and we spoke about the school, the team and the plans to rebuild after COVID and with my family’s support I was able to come in spring 2022 and have the time to adjust in the Spring season.”
The FFFUSA program is a partnership between the Major Soccer League (MLS) and the French Football Federation that allows young French soccer players to be scouted by university programs in the United States. By taking advantage of this connection to collegiate athletic programs in the U.S., Scott was able to see Akki’s skills in person and recognize the full potential that he has. While this relationship began in Paris this past December, it wasn’t until Akki made the move to the Bronx that the two were able to rebuild the Jaspers’ back line.
In his official debut as a Jasper against Holy Cross, Akki played the full 90 minutes and has continued to prove himself as an integral part of Manhattan’s defensive line. With five games left in the Jaspers’ regular season, Akki has managed to stay healthy enough to play in 898 minutes and continue to lead Manhattan to number two in the MAAC standings.
While playing Division I soccer in the United States is an entirely new experience for Akki, he is ready for whatever is going to come at him in the next four years as a Jasper.
“Pressure and expectations are life,” Akki said. “We can only be our best if we are able to control our emotions and set realistic goals and enjoy the journey.”
Akki’s emotions were put to the test in the Jaspers’ second game against La Salle which resulted in a 1-1 tie. With 50 minutes left in the game, Akki was dealt a red card that left his teammates to play a man down for the rest of the match. While the Jaspers managed to maintain a draw in this battle against La Salle, it was an important experience for Akki to face in his first year playing college soccer.
Since this game, Akki has played all but 45 minutes in each game that the Jaspers have played. Most recently, he was awarded MAAC Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 26 after his performance in Manhattan’s 2-0 win over Fairleigh Dickinson. Along with Akki’s minutes per game, this acknowledgment by the MAAC proves that he is a player that the rest of the conference is going to have to watch out for.
“My aim is to do what is best for the team and that will shape my training approach and goals,” Akki said. “I hope to bring success on and off the field for the program in my time here.”
As only a freshman on the team, Akki’s goals for himself and his commitment to the game will lead him and the Jaspers to great success in the next four years. Akki is only getting started in his collegiate career as a Jasper, but his immediate impact is already being recognized by Manhattan College and the rest of the MAAC conference. Heading into the last five games of the team’s conference schedule season and playoffs looming in the distance, Akki will be a key player that will help determine the Jaspers’ success.