It’s the new year, and that means it’s time to start a new MLS season. Every year the league calendar kicks off with the adidas MLS Player Combine. This year the Combine will start on Jan. 7.
What is the MLS Combine? It's the event that gives each MLS team an up-close and personal look at the prospects that will be entering the 2016 SuperDraft, which is set to take place on Jan. 14 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Here are some more facts you should know about the combine.
Where is it?
The Combine will be held in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida from Jan. 7-12.
Who will be participating?
A committee of MLS coaches and NCAA Division I coaches from every conference selected the 59 initial invitees, all of whom completed their college eligibility this season. After five players elected not to participate in the Combine, six more players were added on Sunday and the 60 players were split up into four 15-player teams. This number is pending additional invitees who could come from the Generation adidas class, which is yet to be announced, or from the international pool of players.
Who else will be there?
In addition to the players, every MLS technical staff will have a presence in South Florida. This includes head coaches, assistant coaches, technical directors and general managers.
When will the players take the field?
The four teams will each play three games, with doubleheaders set for Jan. 8, 10 and 12. The games will be played at Central Broward Regional Park, just outside of Ft. Lauderdale.
The schedule of games is below (all times ET):
Friday, Jan. 8
Team X vs. Team Ace (2 pm)
Team Control vs. Team Chaos (3:45 pm)
Sunday, Jan. 10
Team X vs. Team Control (12 pm)
Team Ace vs. Team Chaos (1:45 pm)
Tuesday, Jan. 12
Team Ace vs. Team Control (10 am)
Team X vs. Team Chaos (11:45 am)
Can fans attend the matches?
Yes. Tickets can be purchased at Central Broward Regional Park for $10.
What else will the players be doing while there?
They will also be participating in interviews and physical testing. This is a chance for club decision-makers to get into each prospect’s head before the SuperDraft. The physical tests will occur on January 8, with all players set to do a 30-meter speed test, a vertical jump and 5-10-5 agility test.
What are some success stories from the combine?
One clear example of the Combine helping a player's stock was before the 2014 SuperDraft, when a little-known player from the Colorado School of Mines shot up draft boards. Few people knew about Tesho Akindele prior to the Combine, but everyone knew about him after. Akindele was picked sixth overall by FC Dallas and went on to win the 2014 MLS Rookie of the Year award; he has also become a full Canadian international since joining MLS.
Another Combine success story: Joao Plata. The striker was largely unknown to MLS scouts from his time at LDU Quito, but the Ecuadorian attended the 2011 Combine and was selected in the third round of the 2011 SuperDraft. Plata spent two seasons with Toronto FC before joining Real Salt Lake in 2013. He had a breakout year in 2014, scoring 13 goals, which eventually led to a call-up to the Ecuadorian national team.