MLS Insider: On the ground, picking up strays at Combine

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The MLS Combine has arrived in South Florida, and so has the Insider.

Landed Thursday night just after the sunset and managed to pick up a couple of strays from the airport taxi stand: UCLA’s Eder Areola and Shawn Singh. The pair of Bruins radiated subdued excitement about being at the Combine and didn’t show much fear for what lay ahead.

They also weren’t scared to take a ride from a stranger at the airport; their mothers would not approve.

After dropping Areola and Singh off at the hotel, I met up with an agent friend of mine and a few players from Notre Dame, Dartmouth and Bradley that he repesented for a dockside Key Lime chicken dinner. Just like the boys from UCLA, it was a feeling of nervous excitement that ruled the day.

Back at the hotel, coaching and technical staffs from around the league were arriving en masse. Standing next the Seattle contingent in the lobby, I exchanged pleasantries with Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer and technical director Chris Henderson while newly appointed Toronto FC academy director Thomas Rongen regaled the LA Galaxy contingent with tales of God-knows-what in the lobby bar.

Judging by the volume and the length of the laughs he elicited it was one hell of a story; something tells me his won’t be the last barstool yarn spun this week.