College Soccer

MLS Prospects in the NCAA Quarterfinals by A.J. Barnold

The MLS Conference Finals are done, and only MLS Cup remains on the American soccer schedule for 2017.  The MLS fans' offseason depression is starting to kick in for the long, dreary (read: short and really not that bad) offseason.  Not so fast, my friend… continue the fun with the NCAA quarterfinals this weekend!

Between Homegrown Players, Generation Adidas contracts, and January’s SuperDraft, it’s a fair bet that over the next two months you’ll hear many of the big names still playing in the Elite Eight (especially if you’re a Chicago Fire supporter). Satiate your need for statistics and learn who leads the high-flying Demon Deacon and Tar Heel attacks, the backbone of the Hoosiers’ defensive fortress, and how to tell the Cardinals from the Cardinal (that one’s tough for all of us).

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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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MLS vs NCAA Passing Styles, Part 2 by A.J. Barnold

My opening post “came in stats up” was on the issue of substitutions and season length in college soccer, which I analyzed through a breakdown of passing styles in MLS and the ACC. If you haven’t already read that article, please do – it is an important primer for what you’re about to read. Here’s a brief summary for those of you who choose not to, centered around the chart that got everyone talking, after the jump.

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