By FRANCO PANIZO
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The 2012 MLS Combine has come to a close, but not before several players used the event to help their stock while others did not.
In a class dominated by attacking talent, several forwards and creative midfielders enjoyed strong combines, showcasing their goal-scoring and playmaking abilities. There were also some defenders and goalkeepers who enjoyed good combines, but much of the attention this year was made by the offensive players.
Here are some of the players who we here at SBI feel had strong and rough performances at the combine:
Luis Silva, midfielder, UCSB
Silva was arguably the best player throughout the three days of the combine. He showed off his creativity, vision and technical ability in each of the games he played, though Day 1 and 3 were his strongest. Silva also used his size well, which is a unique trait when compared to the other attacking midfielders in this class.
Luckymore Mkosana, forward, Dartmouth
Mkosana was one of the bright spots on Day 1, demonstrating the ability to play with his back to goal while also making dangerous runs at his defenders. Mkosana did not look as good as a lone striker on Day 2, but he went back to being an active part of his team's attack on Day 3, scoring a goal as part of a two-man front-line.
Andrew Duran, defender, Creighton
Arguably the best defender over the span of the combine, Duran was solid in the air and rarely, if ever, got beat his man. He also scored a goal on the final day, getting forward to knock in a pass from Creighton teammate Ethan Finlay.
Calum Mallace, midfielder, Marquette
The lanky Mallace was one the best central midfielders at the combine. He showed the ability to control the tempo of games, and capped off three good days of work with arguably the best goal of the combine on Tuesday, his 22nd birthday. Mallace received a pass from Luckymore Mkosana, dribbled away from a defender and ripped a shot that curled into the upper corner of the goal.
Evan James, forward, Charlotte
James could be the darkhorse of this draft class. He played at a number of positions at the combine, including forward, outside midfielder and fullback, and showed fairly well at each of them. He scored two goals and had an assist in his three games.
Tyler Polak, defender, Creighton
The late Generation adidas signee struggled. Polak did not show off the skills that made him one of the top prospects in college soccer. Polak had an okay game on Day 3, but it was not enough to erase the underwhelming showings of the first two days.
Colin Rolfe, forward, Louisville
Part of a class full of attacking talent, Rolfe did little to distinguish himself from the rest of the pack, which may be somewhat of a surprise considering his constant success at Louisville. He never really got going and did not find the back of the net over the course of the combine. Had it not been for the roster sheets, one may not have known that Rolfe was playing.
Dom Dwyer, forward, South Florida
Another late Generation adidas signee, Dwyer had a strong last day and an okay second day, but he did not really show the goal-scoring prowess which he demonstrated at South Florida. Dwyer was completely negated on Day 1, and although he scored a goal in his final match, he admitted he was not as prepared for the combine as he should have been.
Nick DeLeon, midfielder, Louisville
DeLeon did not make the noise one would have expected him to. He was average on Day 1 before picking up an injury, and he just was not able to show the qualities that made him so successful at Louisville.
Chris Estridge, defender, Indiana
Estridge simply did not have a good combine. He looked a bit out of sorts, and did not have much of anything go in his favor. He had his worst showing on Day 2 when he was matched up against Ethan Finlay, who torched the fullback en route to a hat-trick performance.
What do you think of SBI's list of good and bad performers? Agree/disagree? Who do you think helped their cause the most at the combine?
Share your thoughts below.