LAUDERHILL, Fla. – Day 1 of the 2014 adidas MLS Player Combine is a wrap after two games replete with stand-outs and flops. Simon and Matt, on the scene in South Florida, give you their take on who stood out, and who faded away:
Andre Lewis (Jamaica U-20s): Stood out at first for being tiny out there. Stood out immediately after that for his skill and toughness on the ball. He's got a great first touch and is elusive as all get-out, but what made scouts (and us) take notice is that even when he had to take a hit – or two – he maintained possession and made a play. He's much stronger than he looks, and wasn't getting bullied by guys who had upwards of 40 lbs. on him.
Kyle Venter (New Mexico): Venter nearly got a Generation adidas deal last year, but this time through finds himself on the fringes of the first round in most mock drafts. If he keeps playing like he did on Friday, he'll push his way into the top 10. Confident and loud in organization, he also looked far more mobile than he did last month at the College Cup.
J.J. Koval (Stanford): Combine games are known for their choppy, rough-and-tumble play that lacks for subtlety and organization. Koval stepped onto the field at d-mid and put an end to that narrative, pulling the strings masterfully on offense while making sure the defense kept its shape.
Taylor Peay (Washington): Despite being MLS athletic, there was a concern entering the Combine that Peay (above) was too lightweight. The doubts remain after his team's 4-1 loss, during which he was muscled off the ball on one play and beaten by right winger Zach Bolden, who's not the fleetest of foot. He'll still get picked.
Ben Sweat (South Florida): The left back's calling card is his ability to attack down the flank and whip in deadly balls with his left foot. But he was mainly conservative and rarely pushed forward even though his team was trailing early. Sure, he wasn't exposed, but he didn't risk much either.
Joey Dillon (Georgetown): It's not easy for holding midfielders to showcase themselves to begin with. Dillon had an anonymous showing on a losing team.