[MLS 2014 COUNTDOWN]Three additional Generation Adidas signings bring to seven the number of such players who will be available to MLS teams in the SuperDraft next week.
Announced as GA signings Wednesday were defendersA.J. Cochran (Wisconsin), Christian Dean (California) and Damion Lowe (Hartford). They have bypassed their remaining college eligibility to sign MLS contracts and their salaries will not count against a team’s salary cap, which will be $3.1 million in 2014. All were juniors during the 2013 season.
Cochran earned first-team All-American honors while leading the Badgers in minutes played (1,807) and scoring three goals. Dean, regarded as one of draft’s gems, started 55 consecutive games for Cal. Lowe is the son of former MLS player and Jamaican international Onandi Lowe. He scored five goals in 19 games as team captain in 2013.
They join goalkeeper Andre Blake (Connecticut), midfielder Marlon Hairston(Louisville), defender Eric Miller(Creighton), and forward Schillo Tshuma(Maryland) in the GA class of 2014. Like Lowe, Blake is a Jamaican native, and Tshuma is from Zimbabwe. The other four are U.S. citizens.
The completion of the GA class means that highly rated German Leo Stolz (UCLA) and Canadian freshman Cyle Larin (UConn) will remain in school.
Eleven players have been added to rosters for the 2014 adidas MLS Player Combine that will be held starting Friday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Combine will showcase college seniors as well as international players to be offered in the SuperDraft, which has been expanded from two rounds to four. The Supplemental Draft has been eliminated though the third and fourth rounds of the SuperDraft will be held by conference call on Jan. 21, five days after the first two rounds are held in Philadelphia.
The additional six college seniors to receive invites to the combine are: goalkeeperJohn Berner (SIU-Edwardsville), defender/midfielder Marco Franco (UC Irvine), defender Richard Marquez (Redlands, Div. III), attacker Martin Ontiveros (Furman), midfielder Justin Portillo (Coastal Carolina), and forward Joshua Wood (Messiah, Div. III). All are U.S. citizens.
Three of the Combine’s five youth international players were picked out of a Caribbean combine staged in Antigua last week. Quinton Christina of Curacao's RKSV Jong Holland and Surinamese Stefano Rjsselof Trinidad & Tobago's W Connection will be joined by 20-year-old Argentine defender Braian Acuna (Argentinos Juniors), 19-year-old Jamaican midfielder Andre Lewis (Portmore United) and 18-year-old Ecuadoran defender Ronny Mendoza (Manta).
The Combine begins Friday and runs until Tuesday. The SuperDraft will be televised live on ESPNews starting at noon ET.
MLS Preseason: Updated Schedule
NEW LOOK TO RSL. The hiring of Jeff Cassar to replace Jason Kreis as head coach was designed to retain the Real Salt Lake identity as it goes forward, yet already the team looks different.
RSL announced Wednesday that four assistant coaches, each specializing in a particular position, will work with Cassar this season. Daryl Shore(goalkeepers), Craig Waibel(defenders), Andy Williams(midfielders) and Paul Dalglish (forwards) will support Cassar, a former goalkeeper as player who started out coaching the RSL keepers before being promoted to assistant coach.
All four assistants are new to those roles with the team, though Williams -- who ended his playing career with RSL -- has served as its head scout the past two seasons. While the position-specific coaching model is not new, this is an extensive application. Another change is that the coaches will share scouting duties.
“I’m very excited for Andy, Daryl, Paul and Craig to join me as assistants,” Cassar said in a team statement announcing the hires. “Having such an experienced staff on board will help me in my first year as a head coach, and the unique characteristics that each of them bring to the table will help the team contend for another MLS Cup.”
RSL played in its second MLS Cup last month, losing a marathon penalty-kick shootout, 7-6, to Sporting Kansas City after the teams finished 120 minutes of regulation and overtime tied, 1-1. Kreis informed the team two days after the final he was resigning to join New York City FC, an MLS expansion team scheduled to start play in 2015. Cassar’s promotion to head coach was announced Dec 18.
Shore returns to MLS after working as head coach of the NASL Ft. Lauderdale Strikers, whom he joined in 2010 after a decade of coaching the Chicago Fire keepers. Waibel won four MLS Cups as a player with San Jose, Los Angeles and Houston, and played 156 games before retiring. He’s been an assistant coach the last two college seasons with Michigan and Washington, his alma mater.
Williams, a native of Jamaica, played 14 MLS seasons as one of its more creative attackers prior to retiring after the 2011 season. Eleven players on the current RSL roster were teammates of Williams. Dalglish, the son of legendary Scottish international Kenny Dalglish, was Waibel’s teammate on the championship Dynamo teams of 2006 and 2007 and for the past few years has been a head coach in the NASL with Tampa Bay and USL PDL with Austin. Dalglish was USL PDL Coach of the Year in 2013.
HOMEGROWNS.The Columbus Crew signed a pair of college seniors to homegrown contracts: defender Ross Friedman from Harvard and midfielder Matt Walker from Xavier. With the signings, the Crew now has seven homegrown players on its active roster, tying FC Dallas for the most in MLS.