CARSON, Calif. – Top MLS SuperDraft prospect Jeremy Ebobisse took the field for the first time at the MLS Player Combine on Thursday, recovering after missing an early sitter to score a goal in Team Copa’s 2-1 win against Team Control.
Considered one of the top two or three prospects in the SuperDraft, Ebobisse didn’t arrive in LA until Monday night after spending last week at a US Under-20 national team training camp in Florida. He didn’t play in Tuesday’s matches at the Combine while awaiting medical clearance, but showed well in his lone performance on Thursday, putting Copa up 2-0 early in the second half when he ran onto a through ball in the left side of the box and fired a left-footer inside the far post from 12 yards out.
Ebobisse is a bit of an interesting case. He passed up his junior season at Duke to sign an MLS contract last summer, and spent a couple of months in the fall on loan to Charleston Battery in the USL. He played decently in Charleston, recording a goal and assist in five matches for the Battery while splitting his stint in USL with week-long training stints towards the end of the 2016 season with the New York Red Bulls and Minnesota United FC, who hold the No. 1 pick in Friday’s SuperDraft.
“It was tough but it was really helpful in bridging the gap between college and the pros,” Ebobisse said when asked about his time in Charleston after Thursday’s match.
“Looking back I’m really happy with the way that the last six months have gone for me,” he continued. “Playing USL, playing with the [U-20] national team and then also getting to train with Minnesota and the New York Red Bulls.”
Ebobisse’s last six months were a bit unconventional for an MLS prospect, the vast majority of whom play their college seasons in the fall and then train for the Combine in January. He said the decision to forego his third year at Duke goes back to his teenage years, when he promised himself he’d take advantage of any opportunity to turn pro after some European opportunities fell through due to what he called “passport issues.”
While the second half of his 2016 was somewhat unusual, several MLS coaches and executives think training in a professional environment for a Battery side that qualified for the USL playoffs should help Ebobisse adjust to MLS next year. At 6-feet, 175 pounds, the 19-year-old is physical, has solid speed and is comfortable both as a target forward occupying center backs and running the channels.
He’s interviewed with “10-12 teams at the Combine,” and, according to a couple of teams that have met with him, has impressed in his sit-downs. For now, he’s trying not to think about where he’ll land, but the possibilities – both for Ebobisse and his future squad – are exciting.
“Absolutely no idea,” he said when asked if he had a sense of who will pick him. “There’s a lot of rumors going around, but I try to stay away from the whole thing or else my head will go crazy.”