Armchair Analyst: Stock up, Stock down after Day 2 of the MLS Player Combine

As usual, the games on the second day of the annual adidas MLS Player Combine were significantly better than what we had on Day 1. There was more cohesion through midfield, a bunch of nice plays on and off the ball, and some absolutely terrible defending on set pieces (which I find to be fun). I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and clearly the players seemed to enjoy themselves much more on Day 2 as well.

Here's who did themselves some good, and a few guys who helped themselves not at all:


Stock Up

Eric Verso, MF, Stanford -- I love watching Verso play because he's a problem solver. We -- the US -- produce a lot of guys who can muddy up a game and keep things compact, but we don't produce a ton who can crack it open with quick touches and smart movement.

That's what Verso did in the day's first game, which finished 2-2. He had a goal and an assist, and now has one goal and two assists in his two games.

Verso was used underneath a forward for most of the first 60 minutes, playing the role of a free creator. He popped up in spots all over the field, freeing up his wingers and allowing his center forward to stay high and put pressure on the back line. The assist came early, when Verso found a pocket of space on the edge of the box and drove the ball low and hard to the back post for Thomas Sanner to bundle home.

Verso's goal came in the second half when he snuck through the scrum to head home from a corner. This is not his game, but it speaks to how opportunistic he can be.

Is he a first-round pick now? Maybe. Verso is a little bit older than most of the prospects here (23 years old), which may hurt his cause, but he was a huge part of the Stanford team that just won the College Cup, and he spent most of his career there as a wide midfielder, not as a playmaker or a forward. So he's shown a bit of versatility to go with the fact that teams know he's a proud and capable two-way player.

It's worth noting he's a Galaxy Academy product who lost Homegrown Player eligibility when he didn't train with the team over the summer for two straight seasons.

Range: Late first to early second round.

Tyler David, CB, St. Louis -- David looked lost for most of Day 1 while playing at right back, but he started Day 2 for Team Control in the center of defense, and it was instantly obvious that's his normal spot. He was shifted out to right back again in the second half and struggled, but that's to be expected of a guy who said he's literally never played in that position before.

So let's focus on the position he does play. David was smooth and efficient in both his reading of the game and his distribution, getting to situations early and never seeming to find himself in trouble, no matter where the pressure was coming from. He's not a game-breaker with his passing, but he was able to get the ball to his midfielders in rhythm and put them into spots where they could control how and where the game was being played.

David has prototypical size for a central defender (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) and good athleticism. He's a US citizen who came through the Minnesota United academy system, but he's working on Trinidad & Tobago citizenship and has heard from the T&T federation about being brought into the pool. His father, Steve David, was a T&T international in the 1970s and played several years in the NASL.

Range: Mid-to-late first round

Cole Seiler, CB, Georgetown -- Seiler maintained a relatively low profile throughout his college career, since it was his partner, presumptive No. 1 pick Josh Yaro, who got most of the ink. And honestly I think Seiler's profile is still a little bit too low.

He checks all the boxes you'd expect of a college central defender -- he's big and strong, he's tough in the air and in the challenge, and he's unafraid to yell and organize. What set him apart, though, was his ability to pick out long diagonals and put them on the foot of his intended target in stride. There hasn't been a lot of that at the Combine (this one, or in years past), and watching Seiler do it two or three times was kind of a breath of fresh air.

Now, not everybody in MLS asks that of their center backs, so Seiler isn't going to be a perfect fit everywhere. But any team that wants to move the game around will have taken a second look today.

Range: Mid first-round to mid second-round

Elias Jose Gomez, LB, Argentina -- The Rosario Central product got up and down the left flank all day and picked up two assists in the process for Team X. Those numbers don't lie, as everything about his game is attacking-oriented. In order to succeed, the 21-year-old will need to land on a team that wants him to play that way.

Range: Second round or beyond

Liam Doyle, CB, Ohio State -- Doyle scored two goals, which is always going to attract some attention. The first came when he was left unmarked on the back post to head home a corner, while the second was a direct free kick that he blasted under the wall. Doyle might be a little too slow of foot to be an elite prospect, but lots of teams need center back depth in MLS. He'll get a look.

Range: Second round or beyond


Stock Down

Fabian Herbers, F, Creighton (GA) -- Herbers wasn't bad by any stretch, and he was probably being asked to play out of position as the No. 9 in a 4-3-3. But he didn't do anything to stand out, nothing that made him look a notch or two better than the rest of the guys he was on the field with.

It's probably unfair to ask that of anyone less than 24 hours after arriving at the Combine, but that's the pressure of being both a Generation adidas signee and the runner-up in Hermann Trophy balloting. Herbers is still somewhat of a mystery in regards to where he'll play -- he's probably a natural forward in a 4-4-2, which is a formation not a lot of teams play anymore -- and that's what will make this missed opportunity sting.

I doubt anybody will read too much negative info into today's performance, given that they've all got reams of tape on Herbers's college career.

Range: Top 10

Tony Alfaro, CB, Cal State-Dominguez Hills -- I still think that Alfaro is a first-round pick, and he definitely looks the part of an MLS player. But on this day, we saw that the jump up a level from a Division II school to a field filled with mostly Division 1 players is a tough one to make all at once.

To that end, Alfaro got caught trying to do too much on the ball midway through the first half, which led to a bad turnover and a dangerous scoring chance in the other direction. Then minutes later, he was late reading danger when Yaro overlapped, which led to a nasty challenge on the edge of the area and another dangerous moment in front of Team Control's net.

Alfaro also had good moments, but today was another data point suggesting that he'll need a year or two honing his game in USL before making the jump to MLS.

Range: Mid first-round to mid second-round

Hadji Barry, F/W, UCF -- Barry had a shocker. His decision-making was far too slow, which both neutralized his speed advantage and allowed Gomez to push forward repeatedly on the overlap. There were many, many times where a more aggressive run or a better touch from Barry could have put Team X under pressure, but execution and potential never quite met.

Barry wasn't considered a likely first rounder heading into this event, but we've seen guys with his athletic profile (he finished Top 10 in both the speed and power tests) come in here in the past and blow teams away, playing themselves into a contract. He'll get another shot to do so on Tuesday, and he needs to be much, much better in order to make it a reality.

Range: Third round or beyond

T.J. Casner, MF, Clemson -- Often in spots to make telling plays. Only rarely completes them.

Range: Third round or beyond

Jorginho James, MF, Jamaica -- Came into the Combine with some buzz after a strong performance in the Caribbean Combine and based upon the fact that he's already a thrice-capped Jamaican international. But his touches haven't been clean, and he hasn't been able to exert any influence on the game at all.

Range: Second round or beyond

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