[MLS] In addition to playing out of position for coaches they don't know who employ unfamiliar systems, attendees to the MLS Player Combine occasionally also get thrown another obstacle: bad weather.
Conditions at Central Broward Regional Park on Saturday deteriorated rapidly by the time of the second game, a 0-0 between Jabulani and Predator X, that league officials pushed back the second day of play to Monday. In the day's first match, a much more open and fluid display seldom interrupted by tight marking or tough tackling, Convido scored three times in the first half on its way to a 4-1 pounding of F50i.
The Combine is scheduled to conclude Tuesday, after which many of the participants as well as league coaches and executives head to Philadelphia for the MLS SuperDraft Jan. 14.
Oregon State freshman and projected top pick Danny Mwanga, one of 12 Generation adidas players signed, skipped the Combine and will arrive in Philly well ahead of his counterparts. He's already been informed by the Philadelphia Union the expansion team plans to take him with the No. 1 selection and will sign a deal early in the week if he hasn't already.
Mwanga is a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo who earned Pac-10 Player of the Year honors after scoring 14 goals in 18 games for the Beavers.
Tony Tchani (Virginia) and Andrew Hoxie (William & Mary) led the Condivo attack in the first half. Hoxie curled the first goal into the top corner after gliding down the left side, and played a part, along with Tchani, in a buildup to the third goal, scored by Eric Alexander (Indiana). In between those goals Steven Kinney (Elon) stung the net with a diving header from a long free kick floated into the goalmouth from midfield.
Extensive halftime substitutions stripped away some of Condivo's attacking momentum, yet it hit a fourth goal fairly early in the second half when Othaniel Yanez (Louisville), perhaps inspired by Clint Dempsey's long-range strike for Fulham against Stoke City on Wednesday, arrowed a shot from about 35 yards over the keeper and high into the net.
Drew Yates (Maryland) scored midway through the half for F50i with a penalty kick awarded for a Ryan Peterman (San Diego) foul on Ross LeBauex (Virginia).
Players in the Jabulani-Predator X game slipped on barren, muddy patches and skipped over puddles as none of the few chances created were converted and officials disallowed a Predator X goal for offside.
"Luckily for me, this past collegiate season for me at Wake was quite rainy," midfielder Corben Bone (Wake Forest), a probable top-five pick, said to mlsnet.com. "I'm pretty used to it. I've played in the rain quite a bit. [These were] tough conditions, but we found a way. The ball was moving pretty quickly."
Students of past drafts may remember a Wake Forest defender's prowess in miserable conditions prompted an MLS coaching staff to not only pick him, but build its defense around him. The coaches were Steve Nicol and Paul Mariner of the Revs, and the defender was Michael Parkhurst, whose handling of the ball and his duties during a rainy ACC Tournament semifinal propelled him into the pro ranks as the ninth overall pick in the 2005 SuperDraft.
Game 1 Highlights: