We are introducing ‘This Time Next Year’ to the dedicated MLS section on OrlandoCitySC.com, discussing key events on the MLS calendar throughout 2014 as part of our #CountdownToMLS.
Up first, the MLS Player Combine.
So what is the Combine and why does it matter?
The Player Combine is a four-day showcase, occurring every January in Fort Lauderdale. Over the years, the combine has grown in scope and size, allowing all teams to evaluate the top college prospects for the MLS SuperDraft, which follows just weeks after.
There has been a combine since before the league’s inception, starting as early as 1995. As the draft evolved, so did the evaluation process and player invitation. The current version of the combine actually began in 2003, including college players and others eligible for the MLS SuperDraft.
Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath will be attending this year’s version, scouting out players for his 2014 USL PRO squad and inaugural 2015 MLS side.
“It’s an exciting time to look into players that are participating in the SuperDraft,” Heath said.
Heath and other club representatives will look over a total of 50 seniors attending the 2014 Combine, coming from all around the country. These players were selected by a committee consisting of NCAA Division 1 coaches and representatives. They are joined at the Combine by other seniors, including lower NCAA divisions, underclassmen who signed Generation Adidas contracts,
Generation Adidas is a joint venture between MLS and U.S. Soccer aimed at raising the level of young talent in the U.S. The program encourages early entry of American players into MLS. Orlando City Midfielder Jamie Watson is an example of a Generation Adidas signee, leaving the University of North Carolina after two strong years with the Tar Heels to chase his dream of playing professional soccer. Watson was eventually drafted 13th in the 2005 SuperDraft, saying it was an experience he will never forget.
“It was exciting and nerve racking,” Watson said. “You don’t know where your life or career is headed. In the end it was a great experience and I feel lucky to have gotten to experience it.”
Star players such as Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalex, Brad Evans, Clarence Goodson, and Nick Rimando- all of whom are in the US’s January camp- launched their careers through the Combine and MLS SuperDraft.
Thursday, January 9: Players arrive
Friday, January 10: Matchday #1
--11 am PT: Nitro Charge vs. Predator
--12:45 pm PT: adiZero vs. Brazuca
Saturday, January 11: Player interviews with clubs
Sunday, January 12: Matchday #2
--10:30 am PT: Nitro Charge vs. adiZero
--12:30 pm PT: Predator vs. Brazuca
Monday, January 13: Player interviews with clubs
Tuesday, January 14: Matchday #3
--7 am PT: adiZero vs. Predator
--8:55 am PT: Nitro Charge vs. Brazuca
Stay tuned to OrlandoCitySC.com and its social media outlets for more updates throughout the SuperDraft.