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Monday Morning Center Back: MLS Combine musings

Good morning all. I’m writing you from North Fort Myers, Florida, where I’m taking advantage of the MLS Combine off day to pay my mother a visit.

Today is also a day to reflect on the action in Ft. Lauderdale, where all the league’s coaches and personnel people have spent two days watching the draft-eligible talent. We haven’t seen jaw-dropping talent on display but certainly enough prospects to make Friday’s MLS Draft an intriguing one.

Those of you expecting a ton of wheeling and dealing may wind up being disappointed. When Mo Johnston says he’s probably not doing as much trading as usual you know it could be a slow week.

After talking to Frank Yallop the impression I get is that San Jose would rather deal the pick for a proven veteran. As nice as some prospects are in this draft I don’t get the impression that San Jose is in love with the draft’s standouts.

So who might talk turkey with the Earthquakes? Here are a few teams to consider:

Columbus Crew. When I asked Mark McCullers about trading up on Sunday he stated that the Crew hadn’t considered that yet. He might have been waiting to get a better look at Patrick Nyarko to see if he’s worth it. Columbus definitely needs forward help (Even with the mystery designated player waiting in the wings) and the Crew may just be better off standing firm at No. 6.

Toronto FC. I thought Mo Johnston might crack when I asked him about trading up for the No. 1 pick, and a wry smile he gave when asked about it made me think I had him. Johnston convinced me that Toronto has too many needs to package picks and/or players to move up to. No 1. Toronto has the No. 9 and No. 10 picks, which should yield some quality players for him.

LA Galaxy. You have to consider the Galaxy because LA needs forward help and has tons of picks to package in a deal, as well as a roster full of players that Frank Yallop knows well. The Galaxy already has the No. 4 pick, but a package of a second-round pick and a player might get Yallop listening.

One thing I see in this draft is a nice crop of goalkeepers, which is good for MLS because the league could lose a pair of young goalkeepers to Europe this month in Brad Guzan and Matt Pickens. It will be an interesting call between Josh Lambo and Dominic Cervi being chosen first. Lambo has tremendous upside and is Generation adidas (which means he doesn’t count against the cap). Cervi isn’t Gen adidas but he looks closer to being MLS game ready. Peter Nowak certainly thinks highly of him. He saw him play on Sunday and called him in to the U.S. Under-23 national team camp immediately, which means Cervi’s MLS Combine is done.

The defensive depth in the draft is shaping up to be as good as expected and it wouldn’t surprise me to see some highly-rated defenders slip in the draft as teams wait on defense to take the few quality attacking prospects on the board.

I will be doing a mock draft this afternoon so stay tuned for that.

Share your thoughts on the MLS Combine below.


  1. Out of curiosity… I am curious how Kevin Forrest looked during the combine. He is coming off an injury here is to hoping he lands somewhere.

  2. Ives Goff is reporting that Eddie Johnson has left the USMNT camp to have “serious negotiations” with Fulham. What do you think about this move?

  3. I’ve lived in Oklahoma all my life, and the only other player I have known from Oklahoma to have a significant stay with a US national team of any level was Joe-Max Moore. Either last year or the year before we had a player at the U-17 academy, but he wasn’t close to first team (Christian Ibeagha, now a defender for Duke). It’s perfectly understandable if a player from here slips through the cracks.

  4. To all Galaxy haters: Don’t be alarmed. Even if MLS did give the Gals the first two SuperDraft picks gratis, the Gals would use them to select Lev Yashin and Bobby Moore….

  5. RE: Cervi

    Keep in mind that Cervi is an Oklahoman from birth, and played for Tulsa. Oklahoma ain’t on the map as far as USYSA goes, so Cervi’s first real national exposure was NCAA soccer, and the Golden Hurricanes are in the CUSA– basically off the map for scouts. And Tulsa lost early in the NCAAs last year, and as far as I can remember, they haven’t been in the semis (national attention) in Cervi’s career.

    It wouldn’t be surprising if the combine was the first time Nowak, or a lot of folks, saw Cervi. It’s great that he has made an impression. Maybe there will be more scouting away from the beaten path.

  6. Its good to see that Novak is willing to quickly admit mistakes and rectify them. However, is anyone else concerned that Cervi was overlooked in the first place, and/or was invited to camp so hastily? I don’t get it, its not like he is one of the high schoolers coming up from South America for a look. He is a US college player well enough known that MLS invited him to the combine. It isn’t possible that Novak was completely unaware of him is it? I mean, if he was unaware of him, then that says something negative about USA scouting at that level. On the other hand, presuming Novak was aware of the player prior to the combine and chose not to invite him to the U23 camp- what does it say about Novak that after watching Cervi play for a single day he is willing to completely change his opinion on the guy and invite him to camp? I’m a bit confused on this one…

  7. Mock draft, exciting! I’m interested to see what kind of picks the Red Bulls make. I would hope they would pick more defense than offense, but we’ll have to wait and see.

  8. Good to see Nowak being active in his U-23 selections. Cervi, at 6-6, is imposing and every word coming out of the combine has high praise for the big kid. Hopefully, he turns into something and gives the U.S. even more future GK options for the USMNT.

  9. Ives, can you confirm the Toronto/RSL picks? RSL was to receive Toronto’s second pick (#10) in the Cunningham/Esky trade, and it has always shown that way, but yesterday on MLSnet, it showed RSL getting Toronto’s third pick (#14). Is that a mistake by MLS, or have the trade conditions changed?

  10. You can’t count the Galaxy here, as they wouldn’t need to trade. Than have but to ask and MLS will give them the first two picks of every round. I’m surprised they haven’t done so already.


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