This year’s MLS Player Combine will run from January 11 to 15 at Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Florida. This will be the last chance for young hopefuls to show that they have what it takes to play in Major League Soccer before the January 17 MLS SuperDraft.
There will be 72 players at the combine split into four teams. All four teams will be led by college coaches as well as a representative from the club soccer scene, and each team will face three doubleheaders.
Needless to say, there will be a lot at stake for players and teams alike.
DOING THEIR HOMEWORK
In order to come out successful from the MLS SuperDraft, you have to be well prepared.
I have talked before about the amount of work done by our coaching staff – especially assistant coach Jake DeClute, who is also our scouting coordinator. DeClute is very familiar with the college scene and has worked his contacts to get all the information needed on every player.
Additionally, the club has had staff members attend key NCAA tournament matches, scouting players in a game environment. I know Martin Rennie feels that his staff are very well prepared to take advantage of their two top 10 selections in the draft (#5 and #10).
The last bit of that scouting will be seeing these prospects come together for a final evaluation at the MLS Player Combine.
It will be an intense few days for these players as they will essentially have to work together on teams to make each other look good, all the while knowing that they are in competition with those same players.
With MLS coaches on hand, the pressure to impress will be very high. With that said, the direction they will be given will be to go out and play their own game, and not to try to do things that they would not normally do.
In the simplest of terms, the key for each player is to be themselves.
Another key moment of the combine will be the player meetings. This is where the coaching staff of each team gets to sit down with players of their choosing to ask key questions to try to get a feel for their character.
This could be a key moment for coach Rennie and his staff who are very high on bringing character players into the ‘Caps fold. Teams get a chance to evaluate the intangibles and the aspirations of players, how confident they are but also how grounded they are. How mentally tough are they? What kind of teammates will they be and how will they fit into the chemistry of the group?
Ultimately, this becomes equally as important as what they do on the field.
The combine is held a week before the MLS Superdraft, and some teams will already have an idea of who they are going to draft, especially the high draft picks. But the combine can throw a few curve balls which could then influence the rest of the draft.
It will be a hectic week which will determine the futures of many young soccer players, and maybe make some coaches’ lives a lot brighter.
Read more from the 'Caps legend in his Whitecaps FC blog, The TWO ONE with Carl Valentine.