Stock up, stock down: Day 2 at MLS Player Combine

Highlights and reaction from Day 2 of the MLS Player Combine

LAUDERHILL, Fla. – The legs were heavy and some lineups were shuffled around for matchday two. But there are no excuses for players at the 2014 adidas MLS Player Combine. MLSsoccer.com's Simon Borg and Matthew Doyle, on the scene in South Florida, break down the best and worst from Sunday's play:


Combine Highlights: Predator vs. Brazuca

STOCK UP:

Kyle Venter (New Mexico) – There were questions about his mobility after last month’s College Cup, when he played through an ankle injury and looked lead-footed. He’s fully healthy now, and keeping attackers in front of him with relative ease. Combine that with his aerial dominance and organizational skills, and suddenly we could see him going as high as No. 4. (Range: No. 4 to 14)

Ryan Neil (California) – There was a pronounced lack of direct, dangerous wing play – from anyone – on Combine Day 1. On Day 2, Neil moved up from right back to his natural right midfield position and repeatedly got past whoever he was matched up against, then pinged cross after cross through the six-yard box. He’s a true right midfielder born to play wide in a 4-4-2. (Range: Late first, early second round)

Grant Van de Casteele (Notre Dame) – Battled and won everything around him, especially in the air. He’s not the most elegant central defender around, but he’s solid and plays mistake-free soccer. Was a borderline first-round pick at this time last week, but is probably solidly into the top 15 or 16 by this point. (Range: Mid-late first round)

Tesho Akindele (Colorado School of Mines) – A relative unknown from an equally unknown school, he’s garnered plenty of attention for his size and athleticism, and plenty more for his ability to take a touch and create immediate separation. He’s still raw, but the goods are there for a team that wants to see him develop for a year or two in USL PRO. (Range: Late second round)

Patrick Mullins (Maryland) – The two-time MAC Hermann Trophy winner has been scouted so thoroughly that teams have maybe lost sight of how much he does well. He’s always in motion, he’s a predator in the box, and while he’s not a great playmaker from the center forward spot, he’s still pretty good. Looked the part of an MLS striker on Sunday. (Range: Top five)


Combine Highlights: Adizero vs. Nitro Charge

STOCK DOWN:

Reinaldo Brenes (Akron) – The Zips forward was in and out of his match and failed to get into a rhythm, thus never impacting the proceedings. And for a forward who bases his game on work rate and pace, two matches in 72 hours may have been too much to ask. (Range: Late first round, early second round)

Marlon Hairston (Louisville) – After a strong opening match, the midfielder struggled to make plays. He also lost the ball on a couple of occasions in key spots and was not hard enough in the tackle, perhaps allowing some doubts to creep in about whether he's physically ready for MLS. (Range: mid-late first round)

Fifi Baiden (UC Santa Barbara) – The move from central to wide midfield wasn't a positive one for the Gauchos standout. He was a fish out of water and didn't show much tactical flexibility. But when your team has four holding mids, someone has to play out of position. (Range: Late second round)

Mamadou Diouf (Connecticut) – Struggled to find the game. As dangerous as he was in Matchday 1 in and around the goal, he showed that he may be a bit more limited when the game turns into a muck in the middle of the field with little space to maneuver. (Range: Mid-second round)

Michael Calderon (New Mexico) – Make that two matches in a row that the talented Lobos midfielder has gone missing. Connects a handful of simple passes, but doesn't contribute much else of significance despite having his college teammate, Michael Kafari, alongside him. (Range: Fourth round)