Birnbaum's all-around play as a central defender with the ability to score goals has transcended his time at California to impress teammates and coaches at all levels, from the pros at DC United (where he was named a finalist for MLS Rookie of the Year) and USMNT Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who named Birnbaum to the senior team. Birnbaum immediately impressed his coaches with his steady and solid back line play, and with time should provide some much needed stability in that area of the pitch for the USMNT.
Even more importantly, Birnbaum's leadership of extremely successful Cal Men's Soccer sides has cemented his legacy in Berkeley. His teams reached near-unprecedented levels of success, culminating in both a nearly two-month stint as the nation's top team and in an Elite 8 appearance in 2013. It is for that leadership that Birnbaum's impact will be felt the most.
(5) Scott Chong
If you haven't seen this yet, then shame on you. Stop everything and watch it. If you have seen it, watch it again. It is worth the time.
UNITE Blogger Throwdown: Stanford vs California (viaESPNUNITE)
TheScientist019: The Two-Time Blogger Throwdown Champion! Dr. Periodic Table himself! During the 2012 football season, our own Scott Chong appeared on the nationally televised program ESPN Unite to face-off in a verbal slugfest with bloggers representing Stanfurd and Oregon State in anticipation of the teams meeting on the gridiron. While our team came pretty darn close to having their butts literally handed to them in both contests, Chong was more than able to hold his own, being named the winner of both debates.
UNITE: Blogger Throwdown - Cal vs Oregon State (via ESPNUNITE)
Chong's performance exemplifies the balance I love about the University of California. In the same institution, you have the number one public university in the world combined with several programs with excellence in athletics. Similarly, Chong demonstrated not just a high football IQ with formation match-ups and knowledge of our personnel, but he combined it with an immensely entertaining sense of humor and a biting wit.