Sixty-eight players were invited to participate with the majority coming from US colleges and Universities along with a sprinkling of international players from as far afield as England, Japan and South and Central America.
The players were each assigned to one of four teams and played a round-robin tournament in front of coaches and staff representing all 19 MLS clubs as well as coaches from the US National staff and assorted media from around the world.
There were many outstanding players on display and naturally there were varying opinions among the experts about which players may get drafted and who may be able to make it in MLS. Here, in no particular rank order, are a few thoughts on some of the players who caught my eye in each position throughout the week.
Ryan Meara – Fordham Big frame and a good athlete. Probably the best of the four keepers on view, slightly edging out Chris Blais of South Florida
Andrew Jean-Baptiste – Connecticut. Huge physical presence and athleticism at center back. Hard to beat on the ground or in the air and an effective short or long range passer. Overall I thought he was probably the best defender in the group.
Austin Berry – Louisville. Tall, left-footed center back. Solid in the air and a tough competitor.
Andrew Duran – Creighton. Played as a center back, outside back and holding midfielder during the week and was competent in all positions. Smart, good soccer savvy and technique.
James Kiffe – UCSB. An attacking left back who loves getting forward. Can be a handful in the attacking third.
Hunter Jumper – Virginia. Big, powerful, hard-tackling left back. Got better with each game.
Aaron Maund – Notre Dame. Tremendous athleticism and agility at center back. Hard to beat on the ground or in the air. A steady performer in all the games.
Warren Creavalle – Central Florida. Came to the Combine as a central midfielder but left as an outside back. Wiry and quick with the type of mobility that may get him a shot in the big league.
Calum Mallace – Marquette. One of the more impressive performers of the Combine. Outstanding two-way midfielder who scored the best goal of the week with a curling shot into the upper corner (against my team).
Enzo Martinez – North Carolina. Small but compact frame. Smart, high-percentage passer who connects the game well.
Kenney Walker – Louisville. Tough, no-nonsense holding midfielder who can win the ball and distributes well. Improved with every game.
Evans Frimpong – Delaware . Small, quick Ghanaian attacking midfielder. Dangerous passer and dribbler in the attacking third. One of the surprises of the Combine.
Andy Rose – UCLA. Lanky English holding midfielder with a great feel for keeping possession in tight spaces. Connected play well and rarely gave the ball away.
Kohei Yamada – Japan. One of the international players who showed great flair in the attacking midfield position. Excellent dribbling and tight control but may lack the size to be effective in MLS.
Luis Silva – UCSB. High-quality technical playmaker. One of the better players in the Combine.
Greg Jordan – Creighton. Solid, tough defensive midfielder with a knack for being in the right place at the right time. One of the surprises of the week.
Kelyn Rowe – UCLA. Much heralded attacking midfielder and rightfully so. Great balance and technique. Left Combine early to train with US Olympic squad.
Lance Rozeboom – New Mexico. Big powerful holding midfielder. Intimidating presence but also good distributor.
Ethan Finley – Creighton. Smart, quick and relentless in the attack. Can play centrally or wide. Led the Combine with 3 goals.
Chandler Hoffman – UCLA. Quick, clever and dangerous. Great nose for goal.
Casey Townsend – Maryland. Small, pacy and tireless around the box. Battles for every ball and keeps defenders honest.
Lucky Mkosana – Dartmouth. Fast and powerful, can create danger from any situation.
Darren Mattocks – Akron. Blinding speed. Showed flashes but overall didn’t have a great Combine. Expected to be a top pick in the draft.
Sam Garza – UCSB. Dangerous through the middle or out wide. Great pace and skill with tremendous leaping ability.