Yesterday while I wasn’t paying attention, MLS announced its official Combine rosters and their schedules. While the NFL Combine is mostly based on skill workouts to get raw data out of the players, the MLS Combine is more based in just playing the game. They also do workouts, but APPARENTLY they’re not visible to the public! Still fairly angry about that, but we’ll move on. Here comes my overview of the teams and the one game to watch. But before that, here’s the full schedule:
Saturday, Jan. 13: 11:30 PM CT: Nemeziz vs. Predator || 2:30 PM CT: X vs. Tango
Monday, Jan. 15: 11:30 PM CT: Nemeziz vs. X || 1:30 PM CT: Predator vs. Tango
Wednesday, Jan. 17: 9 AM CT: X vs. Predator || 11 PM CT: Tango vs. Nemeziz
I’m not going to waste space here listing out every team’s entire lineup, so here’s a mini Porg of Adventure so you can go to my spreadsheet where I’ve got everyone’s names color-coded to the team they’re on.
This is definitely the team to watch for defensive purposes. With the two best defensive prospects in Tom Hillard-Arce and Joao Moutinho, this team was built to test the other teams’ attackers. While that’s the defense, it’ll be interesting to see how the recently added Jose Carrera-Garcia and Edward Opoku (newly minted GA player) work together, with Schaumburg native Chris Mueller working somewhere around there. The tip of the spear is going to be provided by Alan Winn and Afonso Pinheiro. As I said, this team isn’t built to score, it’s built to be a brick wall for the other prospects to face up against. The difficulty in scoring is going to be added by Eric Dick’s presence in goal. They’ll be an interesting group to watch, mostly to see how Hillard-Arce and Moutinho perform.
If Team Tango was built for defense, this one was built for the attack. The record-breaking Albert Ruiz and MAC Hermann Award winning Jon Bakero are going to be up top for this team, along with defender/forward hybrid Mark Segbers. Holding down the midfield will be GA Mo Adams and NCAA DII Player of the Year Thomas Vancaeyezeele (I’m not even going to attempt to pronounce that). In the back, they’ve got Kentucky stand-out Alex Bumpus and All-ACC defender Markus Fjortoft. Standing behind them all will be Jeff Caldwell.
This is the lucky team with TWO goalkeepers. Paul Christensen and Ben Lundgaard will have to find a way to split time evenly so both get a good look from the scouts. My money’s on Lundgaard getting the most time out there. On defense, there’s Maryland defender George Campbell and All-WCC Ben White. In the middle, the two to watch are Brian Iloski out of UCLA and Georgetown All-American Chris Lema. The interesting thing to really watch for on this team is how GA Gordon Wild performs after a very unimpressive Junior year. Next to him will be fellow GA Francis Atuahene and Guinea U20 prospect Mamadou Guirassy.
Finally we get to the Midfield team, with Alex Roldan, Ema Twumasi, and Ken Krolicki leading the way. The defense looks slightly better than the other teams, with Louisville fullback Tim Kubel and Dartmouth centerback Wyatt Omsberg. A bit further back is SMU goalkeeper Michael Nelson, who’s also an All-American. Rounding it out on top is the player who’s the most statistically impressive striker, Danny Musovski, along with Louisville’s Mo Thiaw and GA Mason Toye. This team’s also notable because they get the one Youth International, Ghanaian attacker Issaka Nyemewero, who’s been incredible for Danbort FC in Division 1.
The One Game to Watch:
Team Predator vs. Team Tango; Monday, January 15th, 1:30 CT
Offense vs. Defense. Tale as old as time. While Hillard-Arce met up with both Moutinho and Bakero in the NCAA Tourney, I don’t think he’s ever seen Ruiz before. Speaking of which, the rest of MLS continues to sleep on Albert Ruiz, but I refuse to. After missing out on a ton of games this past season, it’s only fair to continue to look to his Junior season. If he performs in the way that FGCU fans know he can, he’s going to do just fine in MLS. Taking on both TopDrawerSoccer #1’s at once (Hillard-Arce for upperclassmen, Moutinho for underclassmen) is going to prove it. Also, Bakero won the MAC Hermann and is known for being a good distributor, so the stage is set for Ruiz as long as he takes the chance.