The 2019 MLS Player Combine kicks off in earnest on Saturday, with more than 70 collegiate, youth and international stars looking to make an impression ahead of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft in Chicago.
Games featuring the draft prospects will take place Saturday, Monday and Wednesday at Orlando City Stadium, with coaches and technical staff from all around the league watching.
Players started arriving in Orlando on Thursday and combine events began Friday, with prospects taking part in various performance tests at the practice fields on UCF’s campus. Those events weren’t open to members of the media.
The SuperDraft is on Jan. 11 at McCormick Place in Chicago. Of the players selected in the top 10 last season’s SuperDraft, only four started 10 or more games. Orlando City winger Chris Mueller (selected sixth overall out of Wisconsin) led the top 10 picks with 32 appearances and 23 starts.
The league on Friday announced its class of Generation Adidas players, with UCLA freshman and United States U-20 midfielder Frankie Amaya headlining the group. Amaya, a first team All-Pac 12 selection after his first season with UCLA, was part of the United States U-20 team that won the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Bradenton.
Generation Adidas players are collegiate underclassmen and youth national team players who, once added to a team, are on the team’s supplemental roster and do not count against that team’s salary cap.
The other members of the 2019 class are midfielders Tajon Buchanan (Syracuase), Griffin Dorsey (Indiana), Siad Haji (VCU), defender John Nelson (UNC), as well as goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair (Maryland) and forward JJ Williams (Kentucky). All are expected to be first-round selections in next week’s SuperDraft.
Haji (five goals and 10 assists in his junior season) is projected to go No. 1 overall to expansion side FC Cincinnati, with Amaya projected as a top-10 pick. Williams, a Hermann trophy finalist, is also expected to be selected early. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound junior had 18 goals for Kentucky last season.
The rest of the members of the 2019 Generation Adidas class have their own claims to fame. St. Clair didn’t allow a goal during Maryland’s march to the 2019 national title. Dorsey scored five goals to go with five assists during his sophomore season with Indiana and was a United Soccer Coaches Second-Team All-American. Buchanan scored eight goals in his sophomore season with the Orange and Nelson is projected as a top-10 pick at left back.
In addition to the underclassmen on display, there are senior that are set to make their cash for early selection in the SuperDraft — remember, Mueller was a senior at Wisconsin before he was selected by the Lions.
University of Denver senior and Hermann Trophy finalist Andre Shinyashiki — considered a top prospect — has already been signed to an MLS contract, according to the league, which means his contract is guaranteed and whatever team selects him will pick up that contract. He led D-I men’s soccer with 28 goals last season.
Charlotte centerback Callum Montgomery is another player expected to go in the top 10. The 6-foot-3 Canadian scored three goals to go with four assists for the 49ers last season.
The league also announced 2019 Caribbean Combine MVP Peter-Lee Vassell will be a part of the Combine.
2018 adidas MLS Player Combine Game Schedule
- Team Copa vs. Team Nemeziz: 12:30 p.m. ET (Watch Stream)
- Team Predator vs. Team X: 2:45 p.m. ET (Watch Stream)
- Training sessions / small-sided games: 12 – 5 p.m. ET (No stream for small-sided games)
- Match No. 1: 10 a.m. ET (Stream info. to come)
- Match No. 2: 12:15 p.m. ET (Stream info. to come)