Exciting times for Mikey Lopez.
The kid's a GA, projected to be a top 10 pick and getting ready to head off with the US Under-20s in the next week.
Lopez showed exactly why he's so highly touted in the first match of the MLS Combine on Friday, holding down the midfield for adiPower in the first half of their 2-2 draw vs. adiPrime.
MLSsoccer.com's own Armchair Analyst, Matthew Doyle, caught up with Lopez after the match, where the 19-year-old gave some interesting tidbits on his team's performance, as well as the reason why he had to come off. Video below.
Welcome to Florida.
The weather is warm and the sun is shining, which can only mean one thing: The MLS Combine has arrived, and so have we.
Unfortunately, Day One at the Combine is relatively slow in terms of action. The games kick off Friday, so Thursday was a time for all the players to check-in, introduce themselves to one another and get settled in for what are now the most important three matches of their career so far.
Here's what we saw, what we heard, and what we're looking forward to on Day Two:
Hotel Lobby = Combine Headquarters
It's true. If you entered the player's hotel anytime between 2 and 6pm ET on Thursday, you were greeted by a throng of this country's top college soccer talent, congregated in the lobby waiting for their entrance physicals.
All the while, agents came and went (Damani Ralph was everywhere today), a few coaches stopped by (Thomas Rongen is here representing TFC) and we asked pretty much every player: If you could have dinner with four people, alive or dead, who would it be?
The responses, as you might imagine, ran the gamut. There were a few Bob Marleys, some Biggies, Messi and then a lot of Taylor Swift, Kate Beckinsale, Mila Kunis, Kate Upton and Megan Fox.
Big Man on Campus
While the vast majority of the Combine prospects gave off a nervous energy on Thursday, there was one who already looks the part of a pro: Eriq Zavaleta.
Son of a former El Salvador national teamer, nephew of Greg Vanney, national champion and newly-minted Generation adidas signee, Zavaleta cruised around like a guy who knows his spot in professional soccer is already booked. We'll see if the swagger translates on the pitch, and how much he can help his stock.
Meanwhile, across the street....
Literally, across the street, coaches and GMs for every club were arriving, and getting straight down to business. While the players met each other with jokes and bro-hugs, there was no nonsense at the "adults" hotel.
We saw Caleb Porter and Gavin Wilkinson looking awfully stern watching opposition technical staff file in, while Frank Klopas and his staff had already commandeered a massive conference room next to the lobby for two reasons: One, so the Fire braintrust could discuss their next moves as a group. Two, so everyone else could see them discussing their next moves as a group. This is fun.
Meet the Press
After the players were treated to a welcome dinner and an introductory speech from Alfonso Mondelo, eight of the top prospects sat down with MLSSoccer.com to talk a little soccer, a little family and whatever else came up.
The most charming? Carlos Alvarez of UCONN, whose big smile is sure to be a hit wherever he ends up. The most interesting, though? Kekuta Manneh. A native of Gambia, Manneh just turned 18, and you could tell. Manneh spoke softly, almost trembling at times, but everyone here says his game does the talking for him, so I guess that's sufficient.
— MLS Insider (@MLS_Insider) January 11, 2013
You had a feeling that tonight was going to be special.
35 MLS players, league personnel (including the Commissioner, who cancelled his original plans to attend the Ballon d'Or ceremony) and most importantly hundreds of families from the Newtown, Ct. community came together for an unforgettable event.
This was Soccer Night in Newtown.
While the fun was going down inside the Newtown Youth Academy, participants and observers alike were capturing their favorite moments from the event to share on social media. Below are some of the tweets that we'll remember from what was incredible evening. Enjoy.
— Don Garber (@thesoccerdon) January 7, 2013
— Alexi Lalas (@AlexiLalas) January 7, 2013
— Heather O'Neill (@originalhoneill) January 7, 2013
— Chris Ballard (@chrisjballard) January 7, 2013
im really pumped that i have badass friends who are over in CT right now putting on a show for the familys! This is what soccer is all about
— Chris Seitz (@Seitzy1) January 7, 2013
— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) January 7, 2013
All the soccer stars are here in one room being briefed by Commissioner Garber. Impressive showing. yfrog.com/mmizksfj
— Chris Canetti (@ChrisCanetti) January 7, 2013
Pretty cool show of support by the US soccer community here for Soccer Night in Newtown.
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) January 7, 2013
Having a great time in #Newtown! Lots of smiles!
— Kristine lilly (@KristineLilly) January 7, 2013
— Drew Moor (@drewmoor) January 7, 2013
Such a joy to see such a big MLS presence at #soccernightinnewtown.Kudos to the league and all involved.
— Central Mass Cobras (@CMCobras) January 7, 2013
— NewtownYouthAcademy (@NYAsportsfit) January 7, 2013
Finishing up at Soccer Night in Newtown. Thank you Sandy Hook twitter.com/GrantWahl/stat…
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) January 7, 2013
Have you entertained thoughts about switching careers as we pass into 2013? Ever thought it would be cool to have a job in MLS, helping to grow the game day-in, day-out? Yes?
Then listen up, your opportunity is here.
— MLS, NSC (@MLSNSC) January 4, 2013
Major League Soccer's National Sales Center is currently conducting a search to find their newest crop of recruits for the spring semester. This time around, they're adding a little twist.
Interested yet? Here's what you need to do to get your foot in the door:
The tweets that get the most RTs, favorites and replies will be considered for interviews, and potentially a spot in the program. Here's the full rundown of how the process works.
You know what they say nowadays, you only get 140 characters to make a first impression. Good luck.
It's that time of year again.
A time for giving, for spending time with loved ones and a time for all 19 MLS clubs to try and one-up each other in the form of holiday e-cards.
Oh, and just in case you were wondering, that really is Robb Heineman's desk treadmill. The guy's an animal.
Merritt Paulson started hyping it earlier this week, but not until today were we treated to the unveiling of both the club name and crest for the new women's pro team in Portland.
What are your thoughts on the name and crest? Drop 'em in the comments below.
Rough one for Leonardo Bonucci this weekend.
A defender, clearly excited at the rare prospect of scoring a goal from the run of play, was also clearly caught in two minds about the best way to accomplish the task at hand.
Then things got really ugly for the Juventus centerback. You almost have to applaud him for an effort gone so terribly wrong:
After the match Bonucci did the sensible thing, taking to Twitter to make amends:
"Dovevo tirare invece le idee mi hanno inceppato. Giusta l'ammonizione, brutto esempio. Mi serva da lezione. Per il resto gran vittoria."
If you're Italian is lacking polish these days (like ours), Google Translate has you covered:
"I had to pull instead of the ideas I was stuck. Just a caution, bad example. I serve as a lesson. For the rest, great victory."
David Beckham played his last match in Major League Soccer today, and while that's a bummer, you can't say the guy doesn't know how to make an exit.
We grabbed the shot below after the trophy ceremony, and after Becks had finished the initial wave of interviews that confronted him after final whistle.
It's the classic Beckham image. No matter how you slice it, at the end of the day, the guy is a straight up champ.
He will be missed.
— MLS Insider (@MLS_Insider) December 2, 2012
If you were searching for news on David Beckham's next playing destination, today's press conference with David Beckham wasn't the place to find it.
The guy did provide a good laugh for all of us in attendance, however. Just when it seemed like David was ready to get all sappy about Bruce Arena, someone's iPhone rang. Right in front of Becks. Mid-statement.
He did the rest:
Move over, Peter Nowak, you're now the second manager in MLS history to embrace 140 character communication.
Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis has opened his very own Twitter account. Fantastic news.
If you're just joining us, Kreis is one of the most thoughtful and articulate personalities you'll find anywhere in the League. He's also one of the most intense, and definitely not averse to speaking his mind. So yes, this is a good thing.
@nickrimando you better watch what you say about me now Rimando!
— Jason Kreis (@JasonKreis) November 26, 2012
Would you be down to have your coach hanging in the Twittersphere? Who do you want to see on your timeline next? Gotta be Paul Mariner, right?