NEW YORK -- Major League Soccer announced the initial list of 65 college seniors from 45 Division I schools who have been invited to participate in the 2009 adidas MLS Player Combine at Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Jan. 9-13. Among the list are 38 current and former USL Premier Development League players.
The coaching and management staffs of all 15 MLS teams will be in attendance to scout talent at the combine, which concludes two days before the 2009 MLS SuperDraft. At the 2008 MLS SuperDraft 43 of the 56 players drafted participated in the 2008 combine; 12 combine players were selected in the first round. The 2009 MLS SuperDraft will be held on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009 in St. Louis, Mo.
The list of invitees is highlighted by eight players who are semifinalists for the 2008 Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy, seven of whom also played in the PDL. The MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalists invited to the player combine include Wake Forest University’s Sam Cronin (Carolina Dynamo) and Marcus Tracey (Carolina Dynamo), Michigan State University’s Doug DeMartin (Michigan Bucks), Duke University’s Mike Grella (Cary RailHawks), Creighton University’s Andrei Gotsmanov, University of California-Santa Barbara’s Chris Pontius (Ventura County Fusion), Indiana University’s Brad Ring (Chicago Fire Premier), and UNC Charlotte’s Chris Salvaggionne (Austin Aztex U23). The 2008 MAC Hermann Trophy finalists will be announced on Dec. 12, 2008, and the winner is announced on Jan. 9, 2009.
Joining Dynamo and Wake Forest teammates on the list was Michael Lahoud. Tracey has only played the last two campaigns with Carolina, but Lahoud goes back three and Cronin four. The pair were part of the 2006 squad that finished the PDL season with an unbeaten 14-0-2 record for the regular season title.
Three players were invited from the 2008 PDL regular season champion Michigan Bucks. Doug DeMartin, David Hertel and Kyle Russell helped lead the 2006 league champions and perennial powers to the best record in team history, narrowly missing an unbeaten mark at 13-1-2.
The initial player list was determined by a select panel of Division I college coaches representing all conferences who nominated and voted for players in conjunction with MLS coaches. Youth players from the Generation adidas program will join additional collegiate players from NCAA Division II and III schools, NAIA schools and Division I alternates to finalize the 2009 adidas Player Combine. The final player list and team assignments will be announced in the coming weeks.
The 2009 adidas MLS Player Combine will separate all players into four teams and feature two games per day at Lockhart Stadium on Jan. 10, 11 and 13. Each team will be led by an experienced Division I coach and will be assigned a youth coach, to be named at a later date.