The Colorado Rush has long been recognized among the country's premier youth soccer clubs, and ample evidence exists at Major League Soccer's 2005 adidas Player Combine at the Home Depot Center.
Four Rush alumni are among the 74 players showcasing their games for the league's coaching staffs and general managers this week.
Goalkeeper Chris Sawyer (Notre Dame), defender James Riley (Wake Forest) and midfielder Jeff Krause (New Mexico) played on the same team with the Rush, and goalkeeper Jay Nolly (Indiana) played one year above them.
"There's a few of us out here," said Sawyer, an NSCAA first-team All-American who posted 23 shutouts the past two seasons with the Fighting Irish. "We're all good friends and have played together for years. It's great to have them out here."
Nolly and Krause, friends since they were 5 years old, were teammates at Chatfield High School in Littleton, Colo.
"You'd think our high school team would have been a lot better," Nolly said. "We were just all right, not great. But it says a lot, both of us being out here. It says a lot about our school."
Nolly and Sawyer played together on regional teams, and they worked with the same goalkeeper coach with the Rush. When Sawyer visited Indiana during the college recruiting process, Nolly -- a year ahead of Sawyer -- encouraged him to become a Hoosier.
"He said, 'I don't think I should come here because it would be me and you fighting it out again,'" said Nolly, a hero in Indiana's NCAA title-game triumph on penalty kicks. "Because we fought it out all through Colorado. But it was funny: We both ended up at Indiana schools."
Two more sets of club teammates are at the Combine. Notre Dame's Jack Stewart and Loyola Marymount's Matt Kovar played for Fram near Los Angeles, and Michigan State's John Minagawa-Webster and Michigan's Mychal Turpin played for Michigan club power Vardar.
GOING FISHING: A number of the Combine players were two-sport -- sometimes three-sport -- athletes in high school, but Nolly has played, sort of, two sports at Indiana.
He was an All-Big Ten and NSCAA third-team All-America goalkeeper for the Hoosiers, helping them to their second successive NCAA title. And his rod work aided Indiana's bass-fishing club team to a Big Ten title in 2001.
"All the time growing up, I was fishing," said Nolly, who had been fly-fishing in Wyoming before heading to California for the Combine. "It just stuck with me."
Nolly has taken plenty of ribbing for his role with Indiana's Bass Fishing Club, but he readily admits he's a passionate viewer of ESPN's professional bass fishing coverage.
IN ACTION: Atlantic Coast Conference forwards have looked good the first two days of action at the Combine, with North Carolina's Marcus Storey and Wake Forest's Scott Sealy each scoring a pair of goals as their teams won their first two games.
Storey beat University of California Santa Barbara defender Tony Lochhead to score a splendid goal as adidas F50+ beat adidas Predator Pulse 2 by a 2-1 scoreline in Sunday night's opener at Home Depot Center, played in a steady downpour.
Storey then netted the lone goal Monday afternoon as F50+, coached by Wake Forest's Jay Vidovich, improved to 2-0 with a 1-0 triumph against adidas Aveiro.
Bradley's Luke Kreamalmeyer also scored for F50+ in the opener. Kentucky's Jamal Shteiwi converted a penalty kick for Predator Pulse 2.
Sealy netted goals as Adidas Premio, guided by UCLA head coach Jorge Salcedo, also won its first two games.
Sealy and Hartford's Alon Lubezky tallied in a 2-1 win Sunday against Aveiro. Sealy, UCLA's Mike Enfield and Boston College's Guy Melamed scored in a 3-1 romp Monday against Predator Pulse 2.
Alabama A&M's Eugene Sepuya scored for Aveiro on Sunday, and Southwest Missouri State's Doug Lascody scored on a free kick on Monday for Predator Pulse 2.
Scott French, a veteran soccer journalist working for the Los Angeles Daily News, is covering the 2005 adidas MLS Player Combine for MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.