MLS Insider Combine Diary: A chat with the Commssioner

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Everybody tuck in your shirt and stop playing Words With Friends, the boss is here.

As is combine tradition, Commissioner Don Garber made a whistle-stop appearance in Ft. Lauderdale on Sunday to take meetings, catch up with some coaches and take a peek at the prospects he’ll be welcoming to the stage during Thursday’s SuperDraft in Kansas City.

He wasn’t in town long, but I was able to speak to him briefly on one of the sideline bleachers during the 4-2 goal-off between Team adiPure and Team PRIME. And yes, even he took notice of Ethan Finley’s hat trick.

I asked him what his take was on the current role of the MLS Combine and the SuperDraft.  As the draft has been reduced to two rounds from four this year there are those who say that the two events have waned in importance from a player acquisition standpoint.

“I think there is some reality to that,” he said. “It’s an evolutionary process."

“In the early days of the league, almost every player came out of college or was an international star," he added. "Today there is really a nice mix of players that are coming out of the college ranks, they’re coming out of the Generation adidas program, they’re coming as youth internationals and all of those signings have an impact on what the draft looks like. But the draft is still an important part of our league’s structure.”

But like the old saying goes, nothing truly lasts forever.

“I don’t know how long it stays like that," he said. "I think at some point most of the players in our league will come out of academies but that might be 10 years from now, 20 years from now.  For now I think we’re still going to get the majority of our player pool from the draft and the international player market.” 

And don’t bet on the draft becoming any less super, as this year’s two-round format may not be etched in stone, according to the Commissioner.

"I hope to expand it in the years to come," he said, "as opposed to any alternative.”