In his first three years at Monmouth University, goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky accumulated 31 wins and 28 shutouts in 55 appearances - a record which has earned him a string of awards and accolades during his college soccer career. That sort of form will draw attention. It got the New York Red Bulls' attention, for example: Klenofsky spent this summer with NYRB U-23s in PDL.
And Klenofsky has featured regularly in reviews of the more promising prospects in the US college system. He is on Top Drawer Soccer's radar, and was named to Everybody Soccer's July 2016 list of the top 24 American 'keepers under 24 (appearing at #11: the highest-ranked non-professional on the list).
Bill Reno is the man behind Everybody Soccer, a website dedicated to the study and analysis of the American goalkeeper. He very kindly provided this assessment of the Monmouth University senior's talent and prospects:
Klenofsky possesses the desired frame of the modern goalkeeper (6'6", 170 pounds). The slender build allows him to not only track down shots headed for the corners but also control his box with ease.
The combination of size and mobility has made Klenofsky a formidable force in the collegiate game; one that has helped him capture essentially every school record at Monmouth. Before starting his senior year, Klenofsky spent his time with New York Red Bulls' U23 team. RBNY have a history of developing goalkeepers in their academy teams and surrounding themselves with top college goalkeepers on their PDL team. It's unclear where Klenofsky will land after this year, whether somewhere domestically or abroad, but either way he is a goalkeeper to watch for at the next level.
No great surprise that RBNY had a look at a top prospect playing in its back yard, but it was surprising to learn that news of Klenofsky's talent had reached Antigua and Barbuda. Even more surprising to learn the Caribbean nation has a rooting interest in the 'keeper's career: a caption in an Antiguan newspaper suggested the Jersey boy is in line to become a Benna Boy.
Once A Metro thought it was time to talk to Eric Klenofsky, to find out a little more about his potential international career and his connection with RBNY. Graciously, he agreed.
Once A Metro: We've heard you have been called up by Antigua and Barbuda's Men's National Team - before we say congrats, is it true?
Eric Klenofsky: Yes, I was called up by Antigua and Barbuda for the coming Gold Cup qualifiers October 2nd through the 9th.
Will you be joining the squad for those October games?
EK: I will not be joining the squad for the qualifiers unfortunately. It is a privilege to be called up by Antigua and Barbuda but at this point in my career, my place is with Monmouth. I would have loved to represent Antigua and Barbuda but there were a lot of factors that played into my decision.
OaM: So you're declining the call, but not ruling out playing for Antigua in future - if asked?
EK: Monmouth is the priority right now. I would love to play for Antigua and Barbuda, but I need to be playing for Monmouth at this time.
OaM: The internet suggests you were born in New Jersey, went to school in New Jersey, go to college in New Jersey, and played PDL in New Jersey. What is your connection to Antigua?
EK: You cannot always rely on the internet for the whole truth, can you? - haha. I was not born in New Jersey, I was born in Staten Island. (I know, basically New Jersey, right?)
My great-great-grandparents emigrated from Portugal to Antigua and Barbuda, where they had my great-grand father, and where he met my great-grandmother; meaning both my great-grandparents on my mother's side were Antigua and Barbuda citizens.
OaM: Was the call-up a surprise? How did it come about?
EK: The call was not a surprise at all - it was pretty expected, as a matter of fact. I actually went looking for it, to be honest. I reached out to the Antiguan FA and explained my connection, and we ran with it.
OaM: You played with NYRB U-23s this summer. What was that like? Is there any particular challenge for a goalkeeper associated with the Red Bulls' system?
Playing with Red Bull was a great experience for me, it gave another sneak peek into the professional game in a way that very few PDL teams across the league can do. The talent in our team this summer was unmatched by any other team I'd ever been on, so it was a really good environment to be in for a senior in college. I was able to get called into first team training and USL training a good bit while I was there so it was a great place to play for the summer.
The only real difference or added challenge you get at Red Bull, as opposed to the other professional clubs I've been with, is just the depth in goalkeeping they have. In my opinion, between the USL team and the first team, they have four goalkeepers that could easily be on MLS contracts and challenging for playing time at many other MLS clubs in the league. Rafi [Diaz], Ryan [Meara], Kyle [Reynish], and Luis [Robles] definitely make signing a contract at Red Bull extremely difficult for any goalkeeper, which just speaks to the pedigree Red Bull builds and attracts.
OaM: You're in your senior year at Monmouth, correct? Any thoughts about the next step in your career?
EK: I am in my senior year and playing professionally has always been a dream of mine. I'm not sure where I'll end up after school. Obviously, playing close to family would be great, but playing internationally is always intriguing too. I'm just trying to take everything day by day. My only priority right now is Monmouth Soccer. We'll talk about my next step when the time comes.