For many college soccer players, the path to professional soccer can begin with the MLS Combine. This four-day event takes place in January, prior to the MLS SuperDraft, and provides a platform for college players to showcase their skills in front of coaches and scouts from MLS teams. Let’s explore the process of college soccer players turning professional through the MLS Combine and SuperDraft.
The MLS Combine brings together top collegiate players from around the country to participate in various drills and scrimmages designed to evaluate their technical skills, physical abilities, and soccer IQ. Most players at the draft are from NCAA D1 but there are regular exceptions. The Combine also provides an opportunity for players to meet with MLS coaches and scouts, attend workshops on topics such as sports psychology and nutrition, and gain valuable exposure to the professional soccer world.
Just like in American football and basketball, after the Combine, MLS teams use the information they gathered to inform their decisions leading up to the SuperDraft. Scouts attend college games, watch game tape, and conduct interviews with players and coaches to assess a player’s ability, character, and potential fit within their team and club.
In recent years, the MLS has implemented the Homegrown Player Rule, which has had a significant impact on the path to professional soccer for young players in the United States. The rule allows MLS teams to sign players who have come through their own academy system without having to go through the SuperDraft.
This rule has provided an opportunity for young players to bypass the SuperDraft and sign with the team they have grown up supporting and representing at the academy level. The Homegrown Player Rule has been mostly successful, as many of the league’s top players have come through the academy system of their current team. This rule doesn’t typically apply to players that to went to play in college.
Only players who have completed their college eligibility or have waived their remaining college eligibility by signing with an agent are eligible for the SuperDraft. This means that players who have completed their junior year of college can enter the draft, although most players choose to finish their college careers before turning pro.
When the draft day comes around, players eagerly await their fate as teams make their selections. The first overall pick is highly coveted and is often used to select the top prospect in the draft class. However, there are also many successful players who are drafted in later rounds or even go undrafted and sign with teams as free agents.
Once a player is drafted, they have the opportunity to attend preseason training with their MLS team and compete for a spot on the roster. However, not all players who are drafted will make the team. Some players may be cut during preseason, while others may be loaned to a lower division team to gain more experience.
For players who do make an MLS roster, the transition from college to professional soccer can be challenging. The competition is higher, the expectations are greater, and the physical demands are more intense. However, players who are able to adapt to the professional game can experience tremendous success and earn the opportunity to play for their national team or even earn a move to a higher-level league in Europe.
There have been many success stories of college soccer players who have turned pro through the MLS Combine and SuperDraft. Some of the most notable players include Clint Dempsey, who was selected eighth overall by the New England Revolution in the 2004 SuperDraft, and DeAndre Yedlin, who was drafted in the first round by the Seattle Sounders in 2013. Both players went on to have successful careers in MLS before earning moves to the English Premier League.
The MLS Combine and SuperDraft provide valuable opportunities for college soccer players to turn pro and fulfil their dreams of playing professionally. While the process is competitive and challenging, players who are able to impress scouts and coaches can experience tremendous success and potentially earn moves to higher-level leagues. These events are an important part of the unique soccer ecosystem in the United States and will continue to be an important pathway for young players to turn pro.
Leave a Reply