MLS combine: Day 1 observations

The MLS combine kicked off Friday, and Goal's Ives Galarcep breaks down the players who helped and hurt their stock in Florida.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — It was a typical opening day at the MLS combine, with nerves and fitness struggles leaving the matches a bit disjointed and usually the worst of the event.

That didn't stop some players from impressing and boosting their stock, as several took advantage of the overall lackluster display to stand out in the crowd.

Omar Holness was one of those players. The young Jamaican attacker was one of the more impressive players on day one, and solidified his standing as a sure-fire top 10 pick. Brandon Vincent had himself quite a day as well, showing some good form at left back and then earning a call-up to the U.S. national team.

Not everyone got their chance to impress. Jack Harrison, one of the top prospects in the draft and a potential No. 1 overall pick, missed day one with what was described as an injury.

Now, onto the players who impressed, and the ones who struggled on day one. Keep in mind that day one usually has the least bearing on a player's standing, though a truly awful day, or an excellent day, can swing the tide.

Here are some of the players who boosted their stock considerable, some who maintained their standing, and some who saw their stock dip after a rough first day:


Julian Buescher (Syracuse) - The German midfielder showed his quality and sharp passing before a hamstring injury sidelined him. He remains the best defensive midfield option in the draft.

Tsubasa Endoh (Maryland) - The Japanese midfielder has excellent technical quality on the ball, which was no surprise to those who watched him during his college career. He showed it on day one, but questions remain about how he wil transition to facing stronger and more physical competition on the pro level.

Zach Carroll (Michigan State) - Wasn't dominant on day one, but showed enough before picking up a knock to stand out over some other top center back prospects. Questions remain about his quickness, but you can argue he looked like the better player while slotted alongside Jonathan Campbell — at least on day one.

Ben Polk (Syracuse) - While he certainly could have played better, he still showed some very good qualities and has several teams eyeing him in the top half of the first round. Played well enough to still be considered the best forward at the combine.

Chris Hellman (Lynn) - A local player who was a late addition to the combine, Hellman scored a good goal and had another ruled offside. Moves well, but will need to put together a few more strong days before he can be considered a legitimate candidate to be drafted.

Justin Bilyeu (SIU-Edwardsville) - This year's draft has a good crop of fullbacks and Bilyeu's name is now added to the mix as one of the better ones. Bilyeu impressed at left back with his size, quickness and ease on the ball. With left back being a need position in MLS all the time, Bilyeu could be rising up draft boards very quickly.


Joshua Yaro (Georgetown) - Nowhere to go but down when you enter the draft as the top-rated prospect, but on day one of the combine Yaro showed flashes of the excellent qualities that have scouts raving about him. Still some debate about whether he can really be a central defender on the next level, but he didn't do anything on day one to move him from being a sure-fire top two pick.

Brandon Vincent (Stanford) - A steady display from the NCAA champion, who looked very poised on the ball and comfortable defensively. It was a good showing to leave on as he now heads to U.S. national team camp. He is a sure-fire top four pick.

Omar Holness (North Carolina) - Was a handful throughout his debut, and while he still isn't the most polished attacking player, his physical attributes (size, strength, speed) make him a terror when he's on the ball. Played centrally on day one, but probably isn't sharp enough technically to play there as a pro. Projects more as a winger, and looks like a top 10 pick.

Keegan Rosenberry (Georgetown) - A steady showing at right back, including some good service that had to impress scouts searching for some fullback help. He's looking like a late first-round pick, though he could push toward the top 10 with a few more strong days.

Michael Salazar (UC-Riverside) - There was plenty to critique about Salazar, such as the fact he looked a bit slower than expected, but he did manage to make things happen with some good passes, and also had a header cleared off the line. In a class with few top forwards, Salazar still rates as a top five option at the position.

Jordan McCrary (North Carolina) - The versatile fullback didn't hurt his stock at all, and may have crept up draft boards a bit on a day when the central defenders didn't show as well. Scouts will want to see more attacking quality from McCary in the coming days if he is going to work his way into the top 10.


Patrick Hodan (Notre Dame). Looked overwhelmed on day one, had no impact and showed little quality. Needs to rebound with a strong next two combine days or he could plummet from late first-round pick to out of the top two rounds.

Jonathan Campbell (North Carolina) - Looked slow and made some mistakes that didn't help his cause. Ultimately, he didn't look close to being the best central defender here. But again, it's only day one, so he can still rebound — and should rebound.

Kyle Fisher (Clemson) - Not quite as bad a day as Campbell, but Fisher missed his chance to propel himself into the conversation for the top center back spot.

Richie Laryea (Akron) - Struggled to put his stamp on the match, and appeared too willing to defer to his teammates. Missed an opportunity to show well in the absence of Jack Harrison. Needs to step it up on day two to avoid slipping out of the top five.

Femi Hollinger-Janzen (Indiana) - In a combine where strikers are in short supply, Hollinger-Janzen just didn't do enough to stand out and could struggle to be picked in the top two rounds if he doesn't show more in the coming days.

Day one of the #MLS Combine is in the books. Here are some thoughts from the first day as we sit less than a week away from the #MLSDraft . Major League Soccer (MLS)

Posted by Ives Galarcep on Friday, January 8, 2016