October 26, 2021

Former Cincy soccer standout taking big leaps

Cortland Standard/file photo

Caden Stafford takes a shot during an October 2018 game against Madison. Stafford is committed to the University of Maryland next fall.

A former Cincinnatus High soccer standout is poised to do big things in the near future.

Caden Stafford has been making noise in the camp of Philadelphia Union of MLS and is on track to be an immediate contributor for the Maryland Terrapins next fall.

In his high school career split between Cincinnatus and YSC Academy in Pennsylvania, Stafford racked up an astounding 73 goals and 55 assists.

Needless to say, both pro and college teams took notice.

“My assistant Coach, Jake Pace, identified Caden in May 2019 while playing for Syracuse Development Academy at the National Finals in Kansas City,” Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski said.

Cirovski and his staff certainly know talent when they see it, having won the 2018 NCAA men’s soccer national championship and completing an unbeaten regular season in 2016.

Stafford said he had offers from other schools, “but no other schools compared to Maryland’s environment, they were the perfect fit.”

Cirovski said Maryland’s environment is perfect for a performer like Stafford.

“When he saw the atmosphere at Ludwig Field, 7,000 plus people going nuts in a 5,000 seat stadium, he fell in love. No other program offers that quite like Maryland.”

Cirovski also said he expects Stafford to contribute immediately on the front line when he joins the Terps and sees great things in him as a professional in the future.

“Caden is a special attacking player,” Cirovski said. “He is a true goal scoring striker that can also play the role of provider. He has soft feet, great agility and can unbalance his opponents on the dribble, with his passing and of course his shooting. His creative flair combined with his ruthless mentality fits in perfectly into our style and philosophy.”

This summer, Stafford played with Philadelphia Union II of the USL Championship and scored his first goal with the club in a 4-0 win over Loudoun United on Sept. 16.

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, there were some pretty important supporters in the stands at Subaru Park for that game — Stafford’s family.

“As a family we made it a priority to give him the best opportunities,” his mother Desi Stafford said. “Even with him being in Philly we have made many trips to watch his games and let him know that we are his biggest supporters.”

Stafford credits his parents, his brother Cason, his trainer Chris Riley and his club coach Shannon Colton for his development into one of the top college recruits in America.

Stafford’s parents have recognized his love of all sports for as long as they can remember.

“I don’t remember a time when sports weren’t his number one passion,” Desi Stafford said. “His dad’s passion was soccer, so naturally that is what he played with him the most. At a young age, he wanted to play on a competitive club team.”

Desi added that Caden “played basketball and baseball in school, [but] by the time he was eight soccer was always his first priority. He told us one of the hardest parts about going to Philly was giving up school basketball.”

The Stafford brothers won the 2018 Section III boys’ soccer championship with Cincinnatus, and when sports leagues shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, Caden “returned home for a few months” and “continued to train with my brother when I could, and I did workouts on my own that the Union had prepared for us.”

Stafford had been working with Riley since he was six and developed his technical skills with him. Riley owns 434 Sportsplex and Riley Development Academy in Vestal.

Colton was Stafford’s club coach from age nine until he left for the Union.

“He always pushed me to be my best, believed in me and was someone who was always there for me,” Stafford said.

“We are extremely proud of all of his hard work, and the many sacrifices he has made to pursue his dream,” Desi Stafford said. “It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s been worth it.”