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Jiggly’s Draft Talk: A brief primer on the 2017 MLS Combine

Answering the unasked question “Who doesn’t love watching glorified pickup games on Youtube?”

MLS: Combine
Future Fire pick Jonathon Campbell jauntily heads the ball away, as a fellow MLS Combine participant looks on in wonder.
Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports

The MLS Combine is here! It’s basically gladiatorial combat (as explained in my last episode), so I’m sure everyone will be glued to their TV’s watching. Right?

Yeah, I won’t watch either (maybe some highlights). Much like the NBA Combine, most teams have already set their sights on their guy and are now just there to check out some undrafted depth. But if you insist on watching, they’re all on the MLS Youtube page and the game times are:

Sunday, Jan. 8

Team Chaos vs. Team Control (3:15 pm)

Team Copa vs. Team Tango (5 pm)

Tuesday, Jan. 10

Team Chaos vs. Team Copa (3:15 pm)

Team Control vs. Team Tango (5 pm)

Thursday, Jan. 12

Team Copa vs. Team Control (12 am)

Team Chaos vs. Team Tango (1:30 pm)

Now this may be coming at you too fast as you are now seeing team names instead of “40 Yard Dash” or “Route Running”, but this is just how MLS works it. Players are placed onto teams where they can be seen in action during games.

“What teams should we keep an eye on and who will be where?”

I’m glad you asked, home-made Jyn Erso sock puppet, that’s a great question and what this article is about! First I’ll just link you to the full rosters here. And now, let’s get started.

Team Tango

So the big draw to this team is that they’ve got Abu Dunladi. Dunladi wasn’t on any of my lists because it looked more likely for him to go to Europe after turning MLS down on their GA contract three times in a row. He’s definitely a top 5 pick, but not one Fire fans should worry about. Miles Robinson is also there, so it’ll be fun to check this team out for its GAs. Other important players are the explosive English striker David Goldsmith, Denver right back Reagan Dunk, and my favorite goalkeeper this year, Alec Ferrel. For a couple of low-key players, watch out for Niko Hansen up top, and Michael Amick in the back.

Team Chaos

While this team only has one GA player on it (Shamit Shome), there’s still plenty of senior talent at work here. In the defense, there’s Brandon Aubrey, Francis Devries, and Colton Storm. On the other side of the pitch, you have Nick DePuy and Jorge Gomez Sanchez. And right in the middle there’s Tanner Thompson. Also look out for their goalkeeper, Robert Moewes, who I talked about as a possible third rounder for the Fire.

Team Control

It’s hard to say who’s the most interesting player on this team (other than Jackson Yueill, but he’s a GA that we shouldn’t go for), but I think everyone should key in on their goalkeeper, Eric Klenofsky. He’s been praised for his work between the sticks and he’s got to be pretty impressive if people are talking about someone from Monmouth (not a real popular school). Right in front of him, we’ve got Austin Ledbetter to check out. The team (other than Yueill) doesn’t get interesting until you get to the attack, where they have Christian Thierjung, Wulito Fernandes, and Guillermo Delgado. Also keep an eye out for Napo Matsoso, who Top Drawer Soccer has predicted the Fire to get at 11 (I don’t agree, but...).

Team Copa

Though there a few on this team better than him, my target on this team is Nazeem Bartman. I just want to see whether or not he actually is good enough to even be taken in the second. He might end up being this year’s Mikhail Doholis (an undrafted player last year that I was not expecting to go undrafted). On other fronts, the GAs are forwards Adonijah Reid and Jeremy Ebobisse. In the midfield they’ve got Kwame Awuah, Marcus Epps, and Jacori Hayes. Other places don’t look like much, but that’s the fun of having them there: you get to see some other players you hadn’t even thought about.

So that’s what’s up with the combine. If you check out our Twitter for the first two days, I will be live tweeting the games (so yes, I will actually be watching more than highlights). On the last day the games are during school, so I won’t be able to cover them, but watch them on your own if you can. I’ll come back to this when the combine’s all over and share what we all learned.