Can you believe it, the 2017 season is almost here. The draft is just over a week away and pre-season starts on January 23rd! It all begins this weekend with the MLS Combine and our good friends at the league have compiled this nifty list of everything you need to know as the best players in college soccer duke it out for the right to be selected in the draft.
Here are some more facts you should know about the combine.
Where is it?
The Combine will be held in Carson, California from Jan. 8-12.
Who will be participating?
A committee of MLS coaches and NCAA Division I coaches from every conference selected the 53 initial invitees, all of whom completed their college eligibility this season. That group will be split up into four teams (Team Chaos, Team Control, Team Copa and Team Nemeziz) pending additional invitees who could come from the Generation adidas class, which is yet to be announced, or from the international pool of players.
Who else will be there?
In addition to the players, every MLS technical staff will have a presence in Southern California. This includes head coaches, assistant coaches, technical directors and general managers.
When will the players take the field?
The four teams will each play three games, with doubleheaders set for Jan. 8, 10 and 12. The games will be played at StubHub Center.
Can I watch the games?
Yes. All games will be streamed on MLSsoccer.com, you can find the links to each game below.
The schedule of games is below (all times PT):
Sunday, Jan. 8
Team Chaos vs. Team Control (1:15 pm) – STREAM
Team Copa vs. Team Nemeziz (3 pm) – STREAM
Tuesday, Jan. 10
Team Chaos vs. Team Copa (1:15 pm) – STREAM
Team Control vs. Team Nemeziz (3 pm) – STREAM
Thursday, Jan. 12
Team Copa vs. Team Control (10 am) – STREAM
Team Chaos vs. Team Nemeziz (11:30 am) – STREAM
Can fans attend the matches?
Yes. Fans may attend the games at the StubHub Center for free.
What else will the players be doing while there?
They will also be participating in interviews and physical testing. This is a chance for club decision-makers to get into each prospect’s head before the SuperDraft. The physical tests will occur on January 7, with all players set to do a 30-meter speed test, a vertical jump and 5-10-5 agility test.
What are some success stories from the Combine?
One clear example of the Combine helping a player’s stock was before the 2014 SuperDraft, when a little-known player from the Colorado School of Mines shot up draft boards. Few people knew about Tesho Akindele prior to the Combine, but everyone knew about him after. Akindele was picked sixth overall by FC Dallas and went on to win the 2014 MLS Rookie of the Year award; he has also become a full Canadian international since joining MLS.
Another Combine success story: Joao Plata. The striker was largely unknown to MLS scouts from his time at LDU Quito, but the Ecuadorian attended the 2011 Combine and was selected in the third round of the 2011 SuperDraft. Plata spent two seasons with Toronto FC before joining Real Salt Lake in 2013. He had a breakout year in 2014, scoring 13 goals, which eventually led to a call-up to the Ecuadorian national team.