Francis Atuahene MLS 01132018Courtesy of MLS

MLS combine: Joao Moutinho impresses, Ema Twumasi struggles on first day

The first day of the MLS combine is traditionally a sloppy and often boring affair, with players struggling to find their rhythm and sharpness after considerable time off.

The 2018 MLS combine opening day was better than usual, though it still featured several top prospects who struggled. Some with their fitness and others with their ability to combine with unfamiliar teammates. The ones who stood out did so by shaking off the nerves and sticking to the strengths that earned them combine invites in the first place.

The Generation Adidas class — which features the most highly regarded players in the draft — drew most of the attention, but as a group failed to deliver the performances scouts were hoping for (with one clear exception).

Here is a rundown of the players who boosted their standing the most on the first day of the MLS combine, and the players who hurt their stock with subpar performances:


Joao Moutinho MLS 01132018MLS

JOAO MOUTINHO: Came into the combine as the highest-rated player in the draft and he showed why. His skill, poise, toughness and intelligence have him head and shoulders among the rest as a prospect. He impressed at center back even though the Akron product still projects more as a left back at the pro level, though some teams think he's good enough on the ball to play in midfield.

FRANCIS ATUAHENE: Though the end product was often lacking, Atuahene was a force on the left wing, going at defenders and showing off the blazing speed that has teams considering him at the very top of the draft. It didn't hurt the Michigan winger that the rest of the attacking players in the Generation Adidas class failed to impress.

JON BAKERO: Teams were already aware of Bakero's technical ability and vision, but he was dominant in attack on Saturday. Perhaps an even bigger bonus for scouts was his defensive work rate, and it's safe to say the range of teams interested in the Wake Forest forward has grown considerably.

WYATT OMSBERG: After turning heads in the performance testing with some top-notch numbers, Omsberg went out and showed that he can play. In a draft with few top-end American prospects, and even fewer central defenders, the Dartmouth star's stock is flying high.

MARK SEGBERS: Two things were clear with the Wisconsin product. First, the converted winger definitely has good quality getting forward as an attacking right back. Second, his defending needs work. That isn't scaring away teams who see him as a very good prospect, and being an American doesn't hurt.

RICKY LOPEZ-ESPIN: The Creighton forward is a big, skilled attacker who got on the scoreboard on the opening day. Teams like that he is an American forward with good size and good feet, and if he can put a few more strong days together he'll be a good bet to go in the first round of the draft.

LUCAS STAUFFER: Though he didn't play in his natural right-back position, Stauffer didn't look out of place at left back, and was actually one of the best fullbacks in the opening set of matches. He's good defensively, confident on the ball and competent getting forward. The Creighton product is looking very much like a second-round option now, though if he can keep it up and show well at right back in the coming days, he has to be considered a possibility to move into the back end of the first round.

POL PLANELLAS: Though he didn't start his opening match, Planellas came on and showed the skill and smarts you expect from a product of Barcelona's La Masia. His status as a Spanish international player might hurt his stock, but if the Pittsburgh midfielder continues to impress, teams won't mind finding a place for him.

ERIC DICK: The goalkeeping position is a bit wide open and Dick looked like a prospect teams should consider given his size and quickness for a big guy. He made good decisions and showed good reflexes throughout the day. He still projects as a third-rounder, but the Butler netminder is looking more like a second-round pick now.

OLIVER SHANNON: The Clemson midfielder looks like a player who could step in and play minutes as a rookie as needed. A product of the Everton (England) youth system, Shannon is strong on the ball, puts himself in good positions and reads the game well. Being an international player could hurt his stock, though not if he keeps playing like he did on Saturday.


Ema Twumasi MLS 01132018Ema Twumasi

EMA TWUMASI: The midfielder a woeful first day that left teams questioning his fitness and readiness for the pro level. Teams that saw him at Wake Forest know he is much better than he showed, but Twumasi must improve if he is going to stay a top five pick.

TOMAS HILLIARD ARCE: The Stanford standout remains the most highly-rated central defender in the draft, but there is a growing sentiment among scouts that he has limitations that keep him from being a real top-level prospect. His ability with the ball is in question and he didn't ease those concerns on Saturday. There are still teams who rate him highly, but if he doesn't step up in the next few combine matches he could wind up sliding out of the top five.

CHRIS MUELLER: Though he was active and showed his mobility, Mueller endured a frustrating day where he couldn't quite pull off the final play or shot. The Wisconsin forward is still a player who could be the first senior off the board, but he'll need to do better on Monday to solidify his standing.

EDWARD OPOKU: More active and aggressive than Twumasi, Opoku struggled to pull off plays even though he had plenty of opportunities to do so. The quickness is there, but the Virginia winger needs to show an ability to make better decisions and be sharper in the final third.

DANNY MUSOVSKI: The combine is an important event for prospects from smaller college programs. For Musovski, it's a chance to show why some teams love him. His first day was too quiet to keep him in the conversation as a top 10 pick and he will need to be more of a threat on Monday to avoid a slide.

MARCELO ACUNA: He was around the ball a fair amount and was more active than some other attacking players, but didn't pull off the end product nearly enough. The Virginia Tech forward must do more to edge himself ahead of a stable of good attacking prospects outside the top 10.

GORDON WILD: The Maryland product came into the combine looking to offset concerns that he has fallen off considerably since his standout sophomore season in 2016, but was largely invisible on the first combine day. Wild is looking more and more like a Generation Adidas player who could slide deep into the second round, especially if the forward doesn't improve considerably at the combine.

JUSTIN FIDDES: Fiddes came into the combine considered the best left back in the draft pool, but the Washington defender looked timid and failed to impress. He did post the fastest times in performance testing, but he couldn't make that speed count on Saturday.

ALAN WINN: On a day when several other attacking players impressed, Winn was entirely too quiet, though not as quiet as Wild. Winn needs to show off his speed and ability to take on defenders, something the North Carolina winger failed to do on Saturday.

JOSH MORTON: Despite scoring a goal he didn't look the part as a central defender. The California University and San Jose Eartquakes academy product might project more as a right back and didn't look like a viable center back on Saturday.