The final day of the NASL combine came to a close in fine conditions down in Fort Lauderdale.
My team again played well but failed to find the net, though personally the game went well. The last two days I have played as a center back and right back, getting the chance to show my versatility to coaches and scouts.
On Saturday night, my Aussie roommate Joel and I went to watch the new Denzel Washington film, Safe House, at a mammoth shopping and leisure complex. The NHL’s Florida Panthers’ stadium was right across the street, and it was great to have some down time to stroll around and get out of the confines of the hotel for a few hours.
The final day also brought reflection and perspective on what has been a successful past three days. The level of play has been high and it’s been very enjoyable to be invited to such a prestigious event. In terms of my play personally, I have taken the lessons I learned in college, my academy days in England and from my short stint in the Scottish league to showcase my talent and ability in the shortest amount of time available.
It is hard to make comparisons, but I definitely feel that playing against the likes of current MLS players Jeb Brovsky, Dilly Duka, O’Brien White, Bright Dike and Bernando Anor with Pitt in the Big East for four years prepared me well to move up the ranks into the professional level.
We shall see what happens over the coming weeks, but I have had some positive feedback, which is always good to hear. Combines are notoriously hard to play in, as many players try to hard to impress and certain coaches are only looking for a certain type of player. But all you can do is work hard and show what talents you have in the time allotted to you. That is all you can do.
Thanks again for following along with the posts and video blogs on MLSsoccer.com and feel free to keep in touch on twitter (@JPW8), as many of you have already done, to stay up to date with my progress.
Check out the previous blogs along with my last video blog below.
The first day of the NASL combine started on the training complex of the Ft. Lauderdale strikers, with the level of play high and a few tiring matches in the heat.
For the weekend, we have been split up into four teams. I am in the white team and we have an international mix with Argentines, Brazilians, Australians, Norwegians and, obviously, an Englishman.
Our goalkeeper Steffen Haraldsen works for the Norwegian parliament and plays semi-pro in Norway. Interesting enough back story you might think, however he also is a massive fan of Major League Soccer and MLSsoccer.com and watches videos on the website everyday. The reach of MLS has apparently extended to Norway.
The standard of play was really high in the first game, which we drew 2-2. The same goes for the temperature. The 80-degree sunshine and high humidity made it a cagey opening as both sides didn’t want to over do it in the heat. The need to conserve energy was key considering there are two more games coming up.
But like I said, the standard is high, with former Genoa and Levante players, Serie A and La Liga teams respectively, among the hopefuls trying out for the NASL. There are 50 or so coaches and scouts watching, and everyone is eager to impress.
Tomorrow we have another game and then an opportunity to relax in the evening, and a few of the lads are going to head to the movies.
Stay up to date with the video blog every day, as I will be updating on the latest news from the NASL combine.
If you've read the Sideline today, you picked up on the fact that MLSsoccer.com's own Joe Prince-Wright is down in Florida at the NASL Combine this weekend.
Check out the Joe's first report above or follow him on Twitter, and check back for more updates throughout the weekend. Here's a sample. Mmmmmm...pancakes.
Mcdonalds pancakes are a good start to the morning @CPDUBS10
— Joe Prince-Wright (@JPW8) February 9, 2012
Chilling out at the hotel for the evening, thanks again for all the good luck messages #MLS #NASLcombine
— Joe Prince-Wright (@JPW8) February 9, 2012
Unless you are a college soccer junkie or University of Pittsburgh diehard, the name Joe Prince-Wright probably doesn't mean a whole lot to you. Not yet, at least.
That's certainly not a knock against Joe. It's just the way the soccer landscape works here in the US. Hopefully, though, that will change for JPW – as he is known here at MLSsoccer.com – in the next few days.
Early this morning, Joe boarded a flight for Florida, where he will spend the weekend showcasing his abilities for NASL coaches and technical directors with the goal of earning a contract and continuing his soccer career here in the US. After completing a four-year career at Pitt last year, where he played against a laundry list of current MLS players and 2012 SuperDraft picks, he started as a freelance editor here at MLSsoccer.com. Between editing, providing insight on Big East prospects and generally entertaining us at the office, Joe has been busy training in preparation for this opportunity.
For the next few days, Joe has graciously agreed to provide brief video updates from Ft. Lauderdale as he attempts to latch on with an NASL franchise and prolong his playing career. You can also follow him on Twitter for tidbits and insight into the NASL Combine.
Check out the video for a quick introduction to the man, the myth and legend that is JPW and his thoughts on the combine. He may not look it in this video – the result of multiple takes as we switched between a cell phone camera and the real deal – but the guy is hilarious and should bring the heat in Florida.
Note: We take particular enjoyment from Joe's British euphemisms here at MLS Digital HQ. Perhaps the favorite, or at least the one most fit for print, is "diamond geezer," which is apparently a quintessentially English way of saying someone is a good guy. I was used to "geezer" from my time in Kansas City with Birmingham-born, play-by-play extraordinaire Callum Williams, but hadn't heard the diamond addition until I got to New York. Now if I could only imitate a British accent without sounding like a pirate, I'd be in business.