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MLS Combine: Canadians shine, Finley debuts on Day 2

LAUDERHILL, Fla. – Kyle Bekker has already put pen to paper on an MLS contract. Now, he’s at the Combine playing for draft positioning – and he’s doing a good job of it.

The Canadian U-23 star put in his second strong box-to-box midfield performance in a row on Sunday, picking up a goal and generally controlling the spacing and tempo during his 45 minutes in adiZero’s 3-2 win over adiPower. Bekker and fellow Canadian Emery Welshman both found net in the first half, staking their team to a 2-0 lead at the break.

Bekker’s goal was a classic box-to-box midfielder’s tally, as his burst through the lines, catching the defense flat-footed before running onto Welshman’s clever through ball to finish past Larry Jackson in the 12th minute. [WATCH]

Seven minutes, later it was Welshman who doubled the lead. Bekker and Dillon Powers won the ball in midfield after an adiPower turnover, and sprayed it wide to right back T.J. Nelson on the overlap. Welshman dummied a run to the near post, but peeled off and one-timed Nelson’s cross into the back of the net from 12 yards. [WATCH]

That precise finishing wasn’t matched by adiPower until the second half, when Brazilian winger Stefano Pinho was finally able to figure out how to beat adiZero ‘keeper James Belshaw. First, it was a diagonal ball over the top that found Pinho with plenty of time and space. He picked out the back post with a low, hard effort to cut the lead in half. [WATCH]

AdiZero brought it back to a two-goal cushion thanks to some good work from Ashton Bennett and Erik Hurtado in forcing a turnover. Hurtado fed Charlie Rugg, cutting in from the left, and he was able to dribble the ‘keeper before slotting home easily for his second goal in two games. [WATCH]

Pinho pegged one back in the 75th minute after Jason Johnson, who’d struggled otherwise, finally got into isolation and made a play. He skinned Drew Beckie, then slotted the ball across the six-yard box for the tap-in. [WATCH]

Prime 0-0 AdiPure

The scoring chances were few and far between in the second match between Prime and AdiPure, which finished 0-0.

The match was the first glimpse at the Combine for Hermann Trophy finalists Ryan Finley (Notre Dame) and Jose Gomez (Creighton), who missed Friday’s opening doubleheader to be present at the Hermann ceremony. While Gomez had a tough time finding the match, Finley had a handful of powerful runs in the box and he created havoc when paired with 18-year-old Generation adidas striker Kekuta Manneh in the first half.

Another Generation adidas forward, Deshorn Brown of Central Florida, was the most dangerous player for AdiPure with shots from outside the box in the 20th minute and 37th minute. He moved from center forward to left wing in the second half, misfiring on a pinpoint layoff by New Mexico target man Devon Sandoval in the 73rd minute.

One of the most noteworthy aspects of the scoreless affair was Eriq Zavaleta’s impressive performance at center back. Despite scoring 18 goals for Indiana during the 2012 college season at forward, many scouts believe he will likely reprise his US youth national team role of center back in MLS.

GAME 1: ADIPOWER 2, ADIZERO 3

AZ: Bekker (Welshman) 12’
AZ: Welshman (Nelson, Bekker) 19’
AP: Pinho (Bustamante) 51’
AZ: Rugg (Hurtado) 72’
AP: Pinho (Johnson) 75’