College Cup pressure helps MLS scouts find hidden gems

Steve Neumann at the College Cup

Photo Credit: 
MLSsoccer.com

HOOVER, Ala . – While the College Cup is first and foremost an opportunity for student athletes to carve their names into the record books of their respective universities, it’s also an incredible chance to show the multitude of MLS scouts in attendance that they can cut it on the big stage.

“The scouts that are here know the players we’re looking at already,” Seattle Sounders assistant Ezra Hendrickson told MLSsoccer.com from the stands here at Regions Park. “But it’s just a matter of how they’re going to perform with that added pressure of knowing they’re being watched.

“It has to do with the mentality of a player. Sometimes you have a big name player like Eriq Zavaleta, but what do you do on the big stage?”

Any smart MLS team already has an extensive scouting report on the first round talent at the College Cup, but there’s nothing quite like stepping up in the biggest game of your life to make an impression on potential MLS suitors.

“Some of these guys we’ve been tracking them since freshman year and now they’re completing their four years,” said FC Dallas assistant coach Marco Ferruzzi, just before Maryland and Georgetown kicked off. “You get to see them at the biggest event in their college career and you want to see how they respond and step up in these moments.”

With the combine just a month away, Sunday’s final between Indiana and Georgetown is the last opportunity for seniors and Generation adidas candidates to make a name for themselves.

“I think for me you’re looking to have an eye on somebody moving forward to the combine,” said Houston Dynamo assistant coach Steve Ralston. “So maybe somebody stands out tonight and going to the combine, we’ll know it’s something we have to keep an eye on a little bit more and really pay attention to.”

Among the MLS scouts and assistants polled, names like Maryland’s Christiano Francois and John Stertzer as well as Georgetown’s Steve Neumann and Creighton’s Jose Gomez were at the forefront of the conversation as players they’re watching closely.