Sixty two seniors representing 44 Division I college soccer schools were invited to Fort Lauderdale, Fla this past weekend to take part in the annual Major League Soccer (MLS) player combine.
The annual event is designed to give the league's front office personal and technical staffs a chance to check out some of the top talent available, prior to the upcoming MLS Super Draft this Friday in Philadelphia. No coincidence by the way, that the home town Expansion Philadelphia Union own the number one over-all pick.
The pre-draft speculation that Philadelphia would take Oregon State forward Danny Mwanga with that first over-all pick were heightened this weekend when Mwanga was a no show at the combine. The thought process here of course, is that the Union may already have a deal worked out with Mwanga that will indeed net them their man.
The original plan for the combine was to separate all players into four teams and feature two games per day at Central Broward Regional Park on Jan. 9, 10, and 12. Each team was to be led by an experienced Division I coach who will be assisted by an experienced soccer professional.
Davidson University Head Coach, Matthew Spear was selected to coach Team Predator X, along with Executive Director of the South Charlotte Soccer Association Brad Wylde. Michael Noonan, head coach at Brown University will coach Team Condivo along with Leigh Cowlishaw, head coach of the Richmond Kickers of USL-2. University of California- Los Angeles Head Coach Jorge Salcedo will lead Team Jabulani along with Placer United Soccer Club Coach Nathan Williams. Todd Yeagley, head coach at the University of Wisconsin will lead Team F50i along with Larry Sunderland, Director of Player Personnel for the Chicago Fire.
The Combine may have survived the rain and wind that swept through South Florida on Saturday afternoon, but the poor weather certainly took its toll on the fields at Central Broward Regional Park.
The weather of course created less than desirable playing conditions on most fields, so officials were forced to rearrange the schedule for the remaining three days. Players had yesterday off but were expected to return to the field for doubleheaders today and Tuesday.
With the draft slated for the Jan. 14, there is a mandatory 24-hour period starting Wednesday in which all trade conditions must be met, before Philadelphia makes that first pick.