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Combine players have one more day to impress
by Ridge Mahoney, January 13th, 2009 7AM



[MLS] They look for size, they look for skill, and they look for speed, yet what most MLS coaches also want to see at the annual Player Combine - or any other scouting trip -- are the two P's: polish and poise. After a rest day Monday, the players will play one more set of games Tuesday, after which a lot of them and the MLS coaches and officials will head to St. Louis for the SuperDraft Thursday at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

Two days of doubleheaders last weekend in Fort Lauderdale has confirmed the Generation adidas players signed by MLS left college early for good reasons, and that Peri Marosevic hasn't been disadvantaged by playing for the University of Michigan rather than one of the national powers. Marosevic scored a goal in each of his first two games.

Steve Zakuani decided to turn pro after scoring 43 goals in 44 games for the University of Akron, and before the Combine had been bandied about as a possible No. 1 pick, but way too many factors play into what Seattle does or doesn't do with that pick for it to be targeted at anyone at this point. Be it said, though, Zakuani hasn't dazzled at the Combine as some observers might assume the first pick would normally do.

Though Sam Cronin doesn't play the same position as former Deamon Deacon defender Michael Parkhurst, he does display clean feet and a cool head at holding mid. If there's one position a typical MLS coach is perhaps most willing to give a talented college kid a long look as a possible starter, it's a central midfield role.

When Revs' coach Steve Nicol scouted Parkhurst in college, he noted an ingenious method to move the ball on a waterlogged field. Rather than trying to slosh passes and dribbles through the water with brute force, Parkhurst merely scooped the ball up with little flicks and knocked it forward.
No such deluges have plagued the 2009 Combine - as was the case in Southern California - four years ago.

The only Generation adidas goalie signed, Stefan Frei of California, has shown that Bears' coach Kevin Grimes is correct in assuming he will be the 10th Cal player to crack an MLS roster since Grimes began coaching in Berkeley.

"I think he has all the tools, no question," says Grimes. "I hope he gets the chance to play right away, and I know that's rare for a rookie goalkeeper, but he's certainly good enough and will only get better with experience."

Any fast, strong kid who can score goals draws notice, and UC Davis forward Quincy Amarawika has shown why San Jose coaches and those from a few other MLS teams had his name in their notebooks before the Combine. He came on a sub and scored two goals in 11 minutes to give his team, PowerSwerve, a 2-0 victory.

Creighton attacker Andrei Gotsmanov came into the Combine with a good reputation; his teammate Seth Sinovic also had a few backers as a possible darkhorse pick. We won't know their fate for a couple of more days. There are 60 picks available in the draft, and many teams will be drafting for depth as well as need. Most college players are earmarked to fulfill the former, rather than the latter. Still, not much is set in stone just yet.

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