It’s the new year, and that means it’s time to start a new MLS season. Every year the league calendar kicks off with the adidas MLS Player Combine. This year's Combine starts today.
What is the MLS Combine? It's the event that gives each MLS team an up-close and personal look at the prospects that will be entering the 2016 SuperDraft, which is set to take place on Friday in Los Angeles.
Here are some more facts you should know about the combine.
The Combine will be held in a the StubHub Center in Carson, California from Sunday through Thursday, Jan. 8-12. Fans may attend the games at the StubHub Center for free.
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. Last week, 13 more players were added including five players who make up this year's Generation adidas class. Those players will be split up into four teams (Team Chaos, Team Control, Team Copa and Team Tango) to compete over three matchdays. 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.
Players & Combine Matches
The four teams will each play three games, with doubleheaders set for Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. The games will be played at StubHub Center.
Sunday, Jan. 8
- Team Chaos vs. Team Control (1:15 PM PT/3:15 PM CT) - STREAM
- Team Copa vs. Team Tango (3:00 PM PT/5:00 PM CT) - STREAM
Tuesday, Jan. 10
- Team Chaos vs. Team Copa (1:15 PM PT/3:15 PM CT) - STREAM
- Team Control vs. Team Tango (3:00 PM PT/5:00 PM CT) - STREAM
Thursday, Jan. 12
- Team Copa vs. Team Control (10:00 AM PT/12:00 PM CT) - STREAM
- Team Chaos vs. Team Tango (11:30 AM PT/1:30 PM CT) - STREAM
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 took place on Saturday, with all players performing 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.