I love this time of the year. Truth be told, the MLS Combine and SuperDraft are my favorite things to report on each year. That being said, today kicks off the Combine and there is still plenty to discuss as we have less than a week away from the draft.
I wanted to kick off today with a list of players that may be worth keeping an eye on this weekend. Yesterday the Combine rosters were announced and each player has now been placed on four different teams.
Here are some players from all sides of the pitch that have a little something extra to prove this weekend.
Ketuka Manneh (Generation adidas) - Those that follow the PDL know this kid while many others are looking at him as a big time project. He has the size and speed that teams want and now it will just be a question of which team is willing to give him the time to develop the most. He is listed on the PRIME team along with a solid group of forwards that are all slated to go in the SuperDraft (Ryan Finley, Will Bates and Eriq Zavaleta). He has to prove his worth out of those three this weekend.
Eriq Zavaleta (Generation adidas/Indiana) - I only place him on here because of the talk about him being either a defender or an attacker. His PRIME team isn’t totally loaded on defenders so I would expect him to be placed in the back some during this Combine. I still side with those that think it is a big mistake to convert him back into a defender. Seeing him this year in college was enough to convince me that he is a true number 9. He has to prove that in my opinion to get the highest possible pick in this draft.
Eric Schonele (West Virginia) - While Walker Zimmerman and Andrew Ferrell are considered the top centerbacks in this draft, Schonele has to make himself stand out as the next best option in the Combine. He has the size and tools to do it too.
Ryan Finley (Notre Dame) - I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again about Finley, he has to prove it in this Combine. There are still loads of questions about his game going into this Combine and a couple teams that I’ve talked to so far aren’t too high on him just because of his background. Getting kicked off of Duke’s team a couple years ago didn’t settle well with some. He’ll need to prove his worth on the field to erase the doubters in the crowd. He is still a first rounder just based on how well he can score but how he does in the Combine will determine if he is a top 10 pick or just a late first rounder.
Kyle Bekker (Boston College) - Honestly, I don’t know a ton about this guy other than the fact that he is Canadian and that he has already signed a deal with MLS. That means someone in the league has made a promise, more than likely it was all three Canadian clubs. The question will become, does he prove it enough for one of those three to take him really early in the draft or will he just fall to say a Vancouver at 10 or Montreal at 18?
Ashton Bennett (Coastal Carolina) - Many folks are looking for the next big Jamaican player to come into MLS and Bennett should be it. The Canadian clubs will be paying extra attention to him as well since he has Canadian residency too. A couple good showings in the Combine and he could find himself taken really early.
Dylan Tucker-Ganges (Washington) - Another central defender that has been getting some solid press lately. Some think he is the next George John, others question his ability. Either way a strong showing will get him into the first round. At worst he’ll be taken early in the second round. It will be even more interesting to see him next to Andrew Ferrell on the Adi Zero squad. If he can outshine a player that is considered the top overall pick, that will do wonders for his draft stock.
Jose Gomez (Creighton) - Is he worth a number two pick with Chivas? Or is he that late first round – second round talent that other see him as? That is why the Combine is important to players like Gomez. He has the IQ and the talent to do well in the league but he really has to prove it this weekend. He’s on a fairly loaded PRIME team, so he needs to find a way to stand out.
Chris Thomas (Elon) - One of the top scorers in the country, Thomas will need to prove that going to a smaller school didn’t put him at a disadvantage for this draft. His team at the Combine isn’t totally loaded so he’ll have a decent shot at standing out in my opinion. The big question will be is he a first round talent or not? Right now I have him in the second round.