2018 MLS Combine Player Profile Crash-Course by ASA Staff

The 2018 MLS Combine started yesterday, with players coming to Orlando from around the world with the hopes that they might be taken in next week’s SuperDraft. Thankfully for SuperFans like us, tomorrow through Thursday the league will be streaming the games live. Because not everyone follows the college game, we've brought together three of the top minds in college scouting to give you scouting reports and profiles of many of the players invited to the combine. Each author has watched, been present for, and/or tracked data on multiple games involving each player they covered.

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SuperDraft or Super Daft, Part 1: Determining the Value of an MLS Draft Pick by Kevin Minkus

It’s late April, which means the NFL Draft is here. Unless you’re an NFL fan, or a Union fan faced with kafkaesque traffic closures because of the construction of a ridiculous 3000-seat amphitheater on the steps of an art museum, that probably doesn’t matter much to you. A number of really fascinating articles were written over the last few days, though, analyzing NFL teams’ skill at drafting. To list just a couple - Reuben Fischer-Baum wrote on each team’s ability to appropriately assess the value of prospects given their pick numbers, and Michael Lopez analyzed the efficiency of the league as a whole in its evaluation of prospects. I want to apply some of Reuben’s work to MLS, to determine which head coaches and which teams have done the best and the worst at drafting.

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MLS Combine Player Profile Crash-Course by A.J. Barnold

Eds note: Predicting the results of the MLS SuperDraft is a fool's errand. If you need evidence for that claim (and with all due respect to Mel Kiper), see the 10 completely different mock drafts that have been released over the past few days. Instead of trying to predict the unpredictable, we just want to arm our readers with as much information as possible so that they can back up what they're seeing at the combine and know what they're getting from the players called to the podium on draft day. A.J. and Aaron both identify talent professionally using conventional scouting means, but they also have a deep appreciation for the contributions that analytics and stats can provide to give context and meaning to what their eyes tell them. We hope you'll use this guide when watching the combine next week and when these players are taken in the draft.

This Saturday, the 2017 MLS Player Combine kicks off in Carson, CA, and leads into next Friday’s SuperDraft. To date, 66 players have been invited to showcase themselves to the league’s coaches, scouts, and front offices. This begins with physical testing on Saturday, followed by matches on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Matches will be live streamed on the MLS site.

Most of the combine invitees recently finished their NCAA careers, and are not tied to clubs via the Homegrown Player rule. If you’re an avid follower of the college game, many of these players will be familiar to you, and you may already have an idea of how they’ll fit into the league. If you’re less familiar with these prospects, it may be a bit more difficult to draw conclusions from three days of matches featuring players thrust into a situation where they don’t know their teammates and there’s no real tactical system. Frankly, that’s a really difficult task for the clubs and those of us who DO know the college game!

In either case, the more information and insight we can gather on players, the better chance we’ll have of identifying the talents that will be on MLS rosters in a few weeks’ time. The combine frequently allows lesser-known players to improve their draft stock, and the bigger stars to grow their list of potential suitors. To that end, we present profiles and data on the majority of combine  invitees based on who we’ve seen in our work as it relates to NCAA soccer.

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