MLS Combine: Senior signings Alvarez, Powers lead way
LAUDERHILL, Fla. – They may already have MLS contracts, but they still showed up to play at the MLS Player Combine opening doubleheader on Friday afternoon at Central Broward Regional Park.
University of Connecticut star midfielder Carlos Alvarez and Notre Dame midfielder Dillon Powers each registered a goal and an assist in their respective matches to claim the early headlines ahead of the final two doubleheaders on Sunday and Tuesday.
Alvarez was the catalyst for his team's comeback in a 2-2 tie between Prime and AdiPower (watch the highlights here), while Powers scored the opener and assisted on the final tally for AdiZero in a 4-0 whitewashing of AdiPure (watch the highlights here).
In the opening match, Maryland midfielder John Stertzer (WATCH IT HERE) and Brazilian winger Stefano Pinho (WATCH IT HERE) put AdiPower up 2-0. But in a span of 10 minutes in the second half, Alvarez reduced the deficit for Prime (WATCH IT HERE) and then fed 18-year-old Gambian phenom Kekuta Manneh for the equalizer (WATCH IT HERE).
The AdiPower side was better in the first half, led by a strong midfield trio of Alex Isern (Winthrop), Mikey Lopez (North Carolina) and Stertzer (Maryland), which dictated the proceedings.
Like Alvarez and Powers, Stertzer, Lopez and Manneh are all signed to contracts ahead of the SuperDraft. Stertzer is a college senior, while Lopez and Manneh signed underclassmen Generation adidas contracts.
In the second match of the afternoon, Powers scored the goal of the day on a sensational shot from just over 20 yards out (WATCH IT HERE).
UNC Charlotte's Donnie Smith was active in the attack as AdiPure attempted to mount a response, but goals by Coastal Carolina's Ashton Bennett (on a through pass from Andrew Farrell) and Xavier's Luke Spencer (off a turnover) made it 3-0 at halftime.
Powers had the free kick into the box that Boston College's Charlie Rugg powered home for the fourth and final tally in the second half, with Duke goalkeeper James Belshaw securing the 4-0 shutout with a strong performance in goal.
All four teams will be back in action on Sunday afternoon, before closing out the Combine with a final doubleheader on Tuesday, two days before the SuperDraft in Indianapolis.
GAME 1: ADIPOWER 2, PRIME 2 (Note: 40-minute halves)
POW – John Stertzer (Jason Johnson) 24'
POW – Stefano Pinho (Don Anding, Chris Thomas) 49'
PRI – Carlos Alvarez (Eriq Zavaleta) 54'
PRI – Kekuta Manneh (Carlos Alvarez) 64'
GAME 2: ADIZERO 4, ADIPURE 0 (Note: 40-minute halves)
ZERO – Dillon Powers (Kyle Bekker) 7'
ZERO – Ashton Bennett (Andrew Farrell) 22'
ZERO – Luke Spencer 24'
ZERO – Charlie Rugg (Powers) 59'