Throughout the year, the Sounders FC coaching staff watches college soccer matches all around the country to scout future MLS prospects.
Once the college season ends, the staff takes another opportunity to see some of the top players at the club’s annual Sounders FC Invitational Combine in Las Vegas. Last weekend over 60 prospective MLS players took to the Entertainment Capital of the World and played a series of matches to continue to state their cases. Each player played three matches and also went through some speed and agility tests.
“Overall, the level was pretty good. It was pretty consistent,” said Sounders FC Assistant Coach and Scout Kurt Schmid. “Nobody stuck out as a sore thumb in a bad way, which is good, and there were definitely a couple of standouts in a positive direction.”
Schmid heads much of the college scouting efforts and has been able to bring in a solid group of players for the staff to evaluate. Since first running the Combine in 2009, 104 players have been selected in the MLS SuperDraft or Supplemental Draft and 30 are currently signed with MLS clubs, including six who played with Sounders FC at one point or another.
“We’ve always been able to find a player there,” Schmid said. “It gives us an extra look at some of these guys and in most cases it’s in a better environment against higher quality opposition with higher quality teammates.”
In addition to Sounders FC’s entire coaching staff, Owner and General Manager Adrian Hanauer and Sporting Director Chris Henderson also kept watchful eyes over the three days of matches.
This year, coaches from Toronto FC and the Chicago Fire were also on hand – the first time other MLS clubs have been included in the event. USL-Pro sides the Charleston Battery and Charlotte Eagles also had representatives in attendance.
The players were a mixture of players eligible for the SuperDraft, as well as free agents from all over the world, expanding the player pool.
Several players from the Sounders FC Invitational Combine will also participate in the 2014 MLS Player Combine in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, from January 10-14.
Sounders FC holds four picks in the January 16 MLS SuperDraft, picking 13th overall in the first round with additional picks in each round at No. 21, No. 55 and No. 77.