By Mike Denevi
The difference between soccer in America and football in Europe is measured initially in style and ultimately in skill. Stanford junior soccer player Adam Jahn possesses both—and recently his world-class level of play was on display for all to see.
Jahn, a 6-foot-3 attacker from El Merced, Calif., took his talents to Germany this summer, training daily with the U-23 club, VfL Osnabrück.
It was a long trip for the former Gatorade California Player of the Year, but Jahn embraced the journey.
"It was just so different," he said. "It was great to get exposed to that."
Jahn spent the summer learning German—doing his best to pick up the language and immerse himself in the culture. However, the most important lessons came on the soccer pitch.
"The game is definitely different than college," said Jahn. "They're more skilled, they are always pressuring. Also, the possession over there is so much more quality, they make a big point of valuing the ball."
Jahn will make a switch from target forward to center midfield this year. He said that the Cardinal will look to implement more of a build-up possession style of play this year—a model of the European game.
Head coach Brett Simon echoed Jahn's sentiment, pointing out that the junior will play both positions this season.
"Adam's ability to possess the ball under pressure will allow us to play the style of build up that we are trying to develop," said Simon.
Jahn welcomes the switch to midfield saying it feels like "coming home." He played midfield in high school, but switched to forward while competing for the U-18 U.S. National Team, and remained there his first two years at Stanford.
While on the U.S. team, Jahn traveled not only around the States, but also to Argentina, Portugal, Uruguay and Australia.
"You're playing against professionals, and you're still in high school. It's tough," said Jahn, "but I definitely learned a lot."
His teams were not always successful against the powerhouse countries from Europe and South America, but Jahn shined while in Australia.
"We played China, and I came in as a sub at half-time," he said humbly. "I scored five goals." Jahn was quick to point out the lopsided nature of that match, but still, he can always claim he scored five international goals in one half.
Jahn's experiences abroad have put him in a great position to succeed as he enters his final two years at The Farm.
Stanford is coming off of a disappointing season in which they finished 8-10-0, but this year, the squad looks poised to bounce back.
Jahn and his junior classmates, who he describes as his best friends, came into Stanford as the fourth-ranked class in the nation, according to Soccer America.
With up to five of those juniors starting this year alongside a talented crop of freshmen, the Cardinal look reloaded entering their 2011 campaign, with Jahn emerging as a leader.
"I am thoroughly pleased with his development as a player and as a leader," said Simon. "The team has complete confidence in him. He is capable of playing his best when the games are the most difficult."
Jahn says he has had talks with Simon this off-season in regards to his role as a leader on the team. "This year as a junior, I'm taking more of a leadership role, I'm not just focused on me improving—I'm trying to get the guys around me to improve. To be successful we need everyone playing their best," said Jahn.
Stanford opened the season with two exhibition games against St. Mary's and Sacramento State; Jahn recorded a point in each. The Cardinal played Santa Clara at Buck Shaw Stadium in their first official match on Aug. 27, losing 1-0.
Jahn continues to focus on improving as he and Stanford build toward a strong and successful season.
"The most important thing I've learned is that you are either getting better or getting worse—you're not staying the same," said a matured Jahn. "This is basically professional soccer, so you have to act professional and make sure you're doing what you need to do to keep improving."
The next Stanford game will be Sept. 2 against Maryland, who is ranked No. 4 in the NCAA preseason poll. The game is slated to begin at 4:30 p.m. PT on the FOX Soccer Channel.