Need An MLS Fix? Combine Matches Streaming

We have a little over a week until the MLS SuperDraft takes place. In this short span, MLS will conduct it’s “Scouting Combine” over the next few days. The good news is that a high-speed internet connection will get you access to the round robin matches beginning today at

Let me speak honestly about this issue: I’ve never watched a “combine” before. The NFL originated this clearinghouse of college talent many years ago, when the two major scouting conglomerates “combined” to have one large workout day (hence the name “combine”). In recent years they have made the combine events available through their own broadcast arm, the NFL Network. I admit I’m a fan of the NFL, and I have yet to really get into the NFL’s version of this exercise.

With that being said, there will be actual matches played over this 5 day period in Florida. This is likely because NCAA soccer does not have a post-season All-Star game to display talent in action. The matches will take place today, Sunday, and Tuesday, and will be streaming on the MLS website. The players who have been invited will be split into four squads which will round robin each other over the three matchdays.

Now I’m not expecting there to be a lot of great soccer at these matches. Throwing 11 players onto a field who have barely trained together is not a recipe for brilliant interplay and all. Then again, this would give fans a chance to see the players coming out of the college program. I’ll check out a couple of the matches. It will be interesting to see if it’s worth the time spent, but it is great that MLS is trying to reach out to the fans with this. If you do get a chance to check it out today, let us know in the comments what you think.

6 thoughts on “Need An MLS Fix? Combine Matches Streaming”

  1. MLS has done SUCH a great job of using the colleges as it’s farm
    system. It is amazing how long it took baseball to figure this
    out….glad MLS learned from previous leagues. The combine is a
    good chance for players that didn’t play at the teams that have
    been watched to prove ( or dis-prove ) themselves. I watched some
    before, there are a lot of non-surprises, we call saw them play in
    college and they are what we thought, but some of the players that
    were rated highly, but hadn’t been proven yet, faded or excelled.

    1. “MLS has done SUCH a great job of using the colleges as it’s farm
      system.” Problem is that may not last a whole lot longer.
      In short, the plan is to eliminate the “spring season” where
      college teams train and play friendlies to keep in fitness, which
      players and coaches see as vital for development. The NCAA also
      wants to cut down 10% of competitive matches in the fall season. So
      fewer matches, and no contact between players and coaches between
      December and August. In the development process our best players
      need to be playing year-round. If college doesn’t afford them that
      opportunity, more top young players will take their chances and go
      pro, rather than go to a top college program. The best college
      coaches will leave, and since the best coaches and players won’t be
      playing collegiate soccer, it will become an incredibly mediocre
      product that won’t produce MLS level players. This is the point
      where MLS and even the lower levels of the American pyramid have to
      accept college isn’t going to give them the players they want for
      “free” anymore, and their own development of players has to become
      a priority. Plus Charles, keep in mind, while more college baseball
      players are being drafted, we’re still only talking about 30-40% of
      every draft class, there are still a lot more high schoolers than
      college players drafted every year. Moneyball is a good book, but
      it’s not to be read as The Bible for how to run a team or even a

      1. And it looks like MLS is well aware of college soccer’s
        limitations, present and future:
        “So why the sudden change of tune by MLS? The driving force wasn’t
        about saving money, but about being able to offer more money to
        sign elite-level MLS academy players and make it more appealing for
        players to sign with MLS clubs BEFORE BEGINNING COLLEGE. In years
        past, top college underclassmen signed to GA deals were earning
        significantly more than the younger MLS academy prospects signing
        straight out of high school. That approach wasn’t going to do in
        the changing environment of talent scouting, with more and more
        European clubs beginning to scour the United States for younger and
        younger talent. As MLS clubs prepare to see the benefits of
        investment in academy programs, and the league prepares for
        potential bidding wars to keep their very best prospects at home,
        the decision to spend less on college talent and more on homegrown
        players made sense.” (emphasis added)

      2. College will dominate the development landscape for a long time,
        imho forever, because there is still no money….and there may
        never be. There still isn’t much money in most of Europe
        even…………………..One, there is no money to pay players.
        So a mom is going to have her son try to make it earning nothing,
        not getting an education and playing video games all day ? No. They
        will go to college and play……………….Two, the teams don’t
        have the money. That could change, but most likely won’t to the
        degree needed to overcome, thousands of players that will play in
        college. It is a cute idea that 19 teams will have academies that
        will bring up their players, but the colleges having many thousands
        of players will always crush that. Overcoming the “lack” ( still
        more meaningful games than a semi-pro experience ) of games or time
        playing, is easily taken up by play away from college. I was a
        college athlete, it happens in all college
        sports………………….Ives, as you know is a BIG college
        soccer guy. He doesn’t take a stance on overtalk blog topics, but
        he knows where it is headed….in his mind at least, he is NOT
        wasting his time.

  2. Thank you for the links, btw……….It is funny reading these
    articles, because you can see what they are “rooting” for in their
    writing. I guess it is a fact that if they elimate the spring games
    the soccer players will not come to college now. There are 12,500
    players in college ( how many academy teams would you have to have
    to have that many guys playing soccer…seriously. 400+, so about
    20 per MLS team….college soccer is going to be more important to
    MLS not less )…..12,500, how many are dropping out due to no
    spring games. I am going to say 5, not thousand, 5 players. The
    Sounders wanted a local goalkeeper to come train with them and skip
    college, good change of him making the squad in a few years….They
    are now waiting for him to play college ball. He has a good shot to
    make it still, but if he doesn’t he has an education. 12,500….man
    the US is going to crush it very quickly with that many playing
    soccer after high school.

    1. Charles – Interesting points. Couple of things you have to keep in
      mind…. 1) That 12,500 number includes D2, D3, Jr College etc.
      That number also includes international students, kids from Europe,
      the Caribbean, South America who wouldn’t be eligible for the US
      National Teams. Nothing wrong with a kid who uses that soccer
      scholarship to get a free education and start a career elsewhere
      while enjoying the last few years of his playing career, but that’s
      the problem. Most of those 12,500 kids (probably 98-99%) will NEVER
      go pro. College is seen as the end-game for a lot of people, NOT
      the start of a career. 2) Definitely see your point on, “how is it
      possible 20 teams can cover the US and Canada in terms of finding
      talent?” That’s a problem for the USSF to fix, and that may take
      time. College soccer will fill some of those gaps. If more D2 and
      D3 teams come up in different regions/cities, stabilize, and then
      start their own academies, that’s fewer gaps to plug. 3) In terms
      of WAY more players in college than could go into MLS academies,
      that’s true BUT each MLS team has the ability to impart it’s own
      soccer philosophies to younger players, in their own vision. If the
      Sounders, for example, decide in the future their philosophy
      centers around something (4-3-3 possession, all-out attack,
      catenaccio, whatever), it will make a lot more sense to start
      training the U-11, U-13, U-15 kids on how to play The Sounder Way
      (TM) rather than draft a whole bunch of kids who have no idea how
      to play their system. The Sounders get to sculpt the kid’s playing
      ability and soccer brain, not some college coach who’s only goal is
      to win, win, win. That’s effectively what Toronto FC wants to do,
      they hired Thomas Rongen as their youth development guru today. The
      coach at Chivas USA has said he’d love for his team to just be all
      SoCal kids one day. College soccer won’t go away so long as schools
      can continue to fund it, and it’s fantastic for a lot of kids to
      get a free college education out of it, but few college programs
      are training their players to become professionals in the
      long-term. Top players are starting to realize that, and if they
      can’t play here professionally, they head to Europe. Not ideal, but
      it is what it is. We’ll agree to disagree, I just don’t think
      college is going to be that important for development going
      forward, but it will still have a place.

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