LAUDERHILL, Fla. – Shunt those awful memories of the cold, rainy and windy opening day of the MLS Player Combine to the side. The second day, well, this was more like it.
The rain stayed away. The sun beamed down on South Florida like it usually does, though the warmth remained conspicuously absent. The prospects benefited from the improved conditions and the moderate temperatures by cobbling together a pair of games that revealed the talents of many of the players on display.
Without the weather to bemoan and with another doubleheader slated for Tuesday morning, let's hop straight into the notes from the middle day of the Combine:
Hoxie strikes again in Condivo win: Andrew Hoxie (William & Mary) scored the decisive goal in the 85th minute to hand Condivo its second win on the bounce with a 2-1 victory over Predator X.
Hoxie collected an Eric Alexander (Indiana) pass and dragged his shot back inside the near post to settle a match that was scoreless until the 80th minute. Michael Thomas (Notre Dame) opened the scoring ten minutes from time with a tantalizing free kick that nestled in the far upper corner after Alexander coaxed a Predator X defender into conceding a foul.
Mike Seamon (Villanova) replied one minute later after surging into the penalty area, lifting an effort over the onrushing goalkeeper and watching it trickle over the line. Seamon's goal looked like it had earned Predator X a second consecutive draw, but Hoxie's late heroics ensured Condivo would maintain its 100% record heading into the final day.
Early goal paces F50i to its first win: Irving Garcia's (UC-Irvine) alert finish after 19 minutes provided the margin of victory as F50i defeated Jabulani 1-0.
Garcia pounced when Andrew Wiedeman's (Generation adidas/Calfornia) shot deflected off a Jabulani defender and fell right into his path. Garcia's low finish held up despite a host of second half pressure from Jabulani causing considerable consternation in the F50i defense. Teal Bunbury (Generation adidas/Akron) threatened often and forced one awkward save in the second stanza, but the pressure wasn't enough to grab a share of the points as Jabulani fell to its first defeat and F50i claimed its first points after an opening-day drubbing from Condivo.
Keeping time: After playing 40-minute halves on Saturday, the Combine switched to full 45-minute stanzas on day two.
Meetings, part one: MLS commissioner Don Garber and MLS president Mark Abbott trekked down to South Florida to catch up with the assembled group of coaches as part of a series of meetings around the Combine.
Meetings, part two: Representatives from the MLS Players Union met with the Combine attendees on Monday morning. The Union is entitled to a one-hour meeting with the players without MLS representatives in attendance.
Three stars of the day
1. Eric Alexander (Indiana) – Contributed to both Condivo goals and continued to make a nuisance of himself in and around the penalty area.
2. Zach Loyd (Generation adidas/UNC) – Submitted an active and effective shift at right back today after an influential performance at left midfield on Saturday. The former Tar Heel is a footballer in the truest sense of the word.
3. Mike Seamon (Villanova) – Instinctive goal capped an impressive two days.
Three players who earned a second look
1. Kwaku Nyamekye (Harvard) – A second straight solid day for the prototypical central defender.
2. Phil Edginton (Louisville) – New Zealand defender partnered Nyamekye and provided a stable presence.
3. Chris Schuler (Creighton) – Didn't notice him at first, but he's got good size and a decent first touch for a centerback.
Three players who can't wait for Tuesday morning
1. Andre Akpan (Harvard) – Of the players with a contract in hand, he's probably shown the least.
2. Tim Ream (St. Louis) – Center back tried his fortunes at left back and showed that he'll likely need to distinguish himself in the middle to make it in MLS.
3. Julien Edwards (Drake) – One glaring blunder – a dangerous backpass under pressure that Brian Perk had to pick up to concede an indirect free kick from 12 yards away – marred an otherwise decent day.
Three questions to answer
(In the spirit of interactivity, I went through Twitter replies and e-mails today and picked out a few choice questions. Get in the game by following along on Twitter – @kylejmccarthy – or dropping me a line via e-mail.)
1. chances tchani goes top 3 with what sounds like a strong combine?
@elecseanica, via Twitter
In terms of talent and performance at the Combine, Tchani is in the top three. The question is whether he fits in New York (second pick) or San Jose (third pick). Ike Opara makes more sense for the Red Bulls, but Tchani could add something in central midfield for a side that needs an upgrade in its engine room. An attacking player – Corben Bone or Teal Bunbury, with Bunbury a better fit – fits the Earthquakes more deftly, though San Jose isn't exactly known for following convention and Tchani is more polished than both of those options. Short answer: it's a coin flip.
2. Someone who has come out of the pool to make it into round 1/2 discussion.
@SoccerCityFC, via Twitter
Notre Dame fullback Justin Morrow. Liked him on day one, liked him on day two. He's got a good motor and joins the attack frequently from his left back spot. His crossing isn't bad, though it needs to become more consistent. From what I've seen over the past two days, I'd be hard pressed to locate 32 better options than him, particularly considering he plays a position (left back) of need for many clubs.
3. Any word on the prospects of Notre Dame’s Michael Thomas & Creighton’s Seth Sinovic?
Gareth, via e-mail
Thomas hit a stunning free kick free kick to open the scoring today, but his MLS future looks somewhat limited. The finish alone will open a few eyes for the Fighting Irish midfielder, but Thomas showed up a bit on the heavy side and doesn't have the mobility to play inside or the pace to play outside. As for Sinovic, I have no notes on him from either day. Middle of the road then, I'd say.
They said it...
“I got two great balls, two great assists from my teammates. It's a great feeling.”
– Hoxie, on collecting his Combine-leading second goal of the weekend.
“The field's pretty good in some areas and pretty bad in some areas. There's a patch in the middle of the field that was completely muddy in the last game and today, it was just dry dirt. The rest of it is short grass and it moves quickly.”
– Akpan, on the playing surface
Kyle McCarthy writes the Monday MLS Breakdown and frequently writes opinion pieces during the week for
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