Combine hopefuls put first day jitters in the rear view

LAUDERHILL, Fla – The first day of the combine is always the hardest day.

Players must come together in a short window, mesh as a unit, and do their best to impress under the watchful eyes of all of MLS.

But regardless of those obstacles, the pro hopefuls enjoyed the challenge.

“It was a good experience,” Virginia forward Brian Ownby said. “You could tell [everyone] was flying in first half, everyone was trying to get out there, give it 100 percent and a good showing.”

The first game of the afternoon produced a thrilling 3-2 victory for adiPower thanks to Chandler Hoffman’s goal in the game’s dying minutes.

And while midfielder Enzo Martinez missed a penalty kick that would have won the second game of the day for adiZero, the Uruguayan midfielder was unfazed, basking in the glow of the combine.

“[The first day was] absolutely amazing,” he said after the game. “Even though I missed the PK I walked out with a smile from ear to ear… It’s amazing that in one day you can get to know people so much and have so much fun with it.”

But even in the fun, everyone must deal with the challenge of learning to sync up with new teammates.

“It is difficult for every single person out there,” Martinez said. “Us, the other teams, the two teams that played before - it’s very difficult to come out after one day and [play with] players you’ve been kicking throughout your college career. I feel like the team played very well today, you could see that we weren’t familiar, but not that bad.”

Of course, each player out there is chasing the dream, hoping to land a spot in next week’s draft – so just being here is something special.

“It’s exciting,” midfielder Nick DeLeon said. “It’s what I worked my whole life so to be here’s an honor – I can’t really put it into words.”