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Joseph Nikic - September 06, 2010

King starts at the top, followed by Beacon, Francis Lewis and John Adams

Last Updated: 11:48 PM, September 6, 2010

It's been nearly 10 months since Martin Luther King Jr. hoisted its 12 city championship. In that time, plenty has changed. The Knights roster has turned over, standouts such as Francis Lewis dynamo Sebastian Guenzatti and Beacon wunderkind Pascal Louis have moved on, many more teams have added significant additions.

Yet so much has remained the same. Manhattan and Queens still rule as King remains atop our rankings, followed by Beacon and Francis Lewis. That doesn't mean there aren't interesting storylines: John Adams, Bayside and Cardozo could challenge Lewis for Queens supremacy and MLK has a host of challengers in Manhattan. Staten Island, Brooklyn and The Bronx are up for grabs, too.   Second-ranked Beacon is counting on striker Joe Nikic as one of its top goal scorers.

Read all about it here in our preseason PSAL boys soccer rankings:
1. Martin Luther King Jr. (0-0)
The Knights don't rebuild. They don't even reload. They just remain loaded. Somehow, after graduating 10 seniors starters, notably sweeper Alex Zorrilla and central midfielder Sebastian Ramirez, King is again a preseason favorite to win its 13th title in 15 seasons. Coach Martin Jacobson has inherited a host of dynamite field players, starting with exceptional midfielder Tarek Beckles. As always, MLK is the leader in the clubhouse.

2. Beacon (0-0)
Joe Nikic virtually came out of nowhere last fall to lead Manhattan A - arguably the best division in the PSAL - in scoring, tallying 12 regular-season goals. Can the senior replicate that production when he is now man-marked? The Blue Demons will need his scoring punch now that Pascal Louis has graduated. Nikic will have plenty of help from much-improved central midfielder Walker Lathan and speedy wing Ryan Cupolo. Next: vs. Julia Richman (Sept. 7, 4 p.m.)

3. Francis Lewis (0-0)
Coach Roger Sarmuksnis may have been playing coy when he said he wasn't sure what to expect out of the rebuilding Patriots, who played second-ranked St. Francis Prep to a 1-all draw recently. Last year's PSAL Class A runner-up, Lewis has a shutdown keeper in Chris Herrera backed by an experienced crop of fullbacks and a pair of playmaking midfielders in Danny Bedoya and Fadil Paljevic. Replacing the scoring punch of graduated stars like Sebastian Guenzatti - arguably the best player in Sarmuksnis' tenure at Lewis - Sam Mignon, Ricky Rada and Frank Lopez is the challenge for the three-time Queens A East champions.

4. John Adams (0-0)
The question when it comes to central midfielder Rodolfo Paguada isn't his skill, but his will. Does he want to be great? Will he enjoy facing double teams and the pressure of creating opportunities? Or is he at his best as a second banana, as was the case in recent years, a question coach Alex Navarrete raised? The Spartans have solid complimentary pieces, but a deep run in the postseason will ultimately be tied to Paguada's emergence as a premier playmaker in the city, or lack thereof.

5. Bayside (0-0)
There might not be a more impressive young crop of players than the one residing in Bayside. From junior keeper Constantine Pougiouklidis to sophomore striker J.P. Bello (eight goals, seven assists) and sophomore center midfielder Andres Huerfano, Joe Corrado's kids have a bright future. He even has a solid incoming freshman class, which speaks volumes for the Commodores' potential now and moving forward.

6. Columbus (0-0)
Alhoussain Bah has spent two years at Columbus producing 22 goals and 15 assists without notoriety. Two years ago, he was beneath Steven Furze's shadow, and last season, the senior striker had other seniors to look up to. Now, he is the guy that others will look up to, the player most responsible for keeping the Explorers' two-year reign atop Bronx A intact.

© By ZACH BRAZILLER | Thursday, Nov 09, 2010 | Photo: Beacon-John Adams | The NY Post