The 2014 USL PRO Combine is set for January 23-26, 2014 and once again will be held at the world-class facilities of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The USL PRO Combine provides an opportunity for elite men’s soccer players to showcase their talents for both domestic and international scouts and professional coaches.
The annual event, now in its eighth year, will feature 102 of the top players from North America and overseas hoping to land a professional contract. To date, more than 150 participants have gone on to sign professional contracts with USL, MLS and international squads since the debut of the combine in 2006. The event attracts top talent from throughout North America, with a majority of the participants coming from the PDL, North America’s leading developmental league for men’s professional soccer.
The USL PRO Combine will be led by USL National Technical Director Peter Mellor, who will oversee a comprehensive curriculum that challenges participants while providing coaches with the proper environment for evaluation. Coaches expected to participate in the event will include those from USL PRO, MLS and several current PDL coaches and executives.
“The past two years have proven that IMG Academy is the best possible location for the USL PRO Combine, so we’re excited to be back to Bradenton in 2014,” Mellor said. “The professional environment at IMG Academy raises the level of the event, both on and off the field, and the players have every opportunity to showcase their talent for the coaches in attendance.”
Past beneficiaries of the event include 2013 USL All-League selection Gibson Bardsley, who scored nine goals and added seven assists for the Dayton Dutch Lions this past season. A pair of players, Matthew Bahner and Jamiel Hardware, went from the 2013 combine to productive minutes for the Harrisburg City Islanders this summer, while a pair of former USL PRO Rookie of the Year selections, Luke Mulholland (Wilmington, 2011) and Jose Cuevas (Charleston, 2012), were also identified at the USL PRO Combine.
Other former combine participants have gone on to Major League Soccer, with current Sporting Kansas City midfielder Lawrence Olum (Orlando City) and Vancouver Whitecaps forward Tom Heinemann (Charleston Battery) starring at the professional level in USL before making the jump to North America’s top flight.
Members of the 2013 PDL All-League Team will receive special invitations to participate. Other players hoping to participate in the USL PRO Combine will be selected based, in particular, the past three years of their playing background and their soccer achievements. The application will be available through the “Events” tab on uslsoccer.com starting on September 23 with a deadline of November 29. Participants will receive local transportation, breakfast, lunch, dinner, lodging, and uniforms.
“I’m pleased we’re once again able to invite the PDL All-League Team members who demonstrated during the 2013 season that they deserve the opportunity,” Mellor said.
Goalkeepers will report and begin training for the 2014 USL PRO Combine on Thursday, January 23, followed by field players on Friday, January 24. The event concludes on Sunday, January 26.
IMG Academy, a division of IMG Worldwide, the global sports, fashion and media company, is the world’s largest and most advanced multi-sport training and education complex. For more than 30 years, IMG Academy has helped countless youth, adult, collegiate and professional athletes reach their full potential in and out of sport, by providing world-class coaching, tailored programs and professional facilities within an energetic environment across a 450-acre campus.
USL PRO is the strongest U.S. men’s professional soccer league on and off the field below and in support of Major League Soccer (MLS). Focused on league stability and franchise performance longevity, USL PRO features 15 teams, including announced 2014 expansion teams in Oklahoma City and Sacramento. Through aggressive and deliberate growth in adding teams fully capable of meeting USL and US Soccer standards, USL PRO is building a robust, national professional soccer league in a format that promotes the benefits of regional league play. In 2013 USL PRO began a groundbreaking, multi-year partnership with MLS that features individual team affiliations, inter-league play, and the opportunity for MLS clubs to field a second team in USL PRO. In addition to league play, USL PRO teams compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as well as various domestic and international exhibitions. USL PRO is the longest-standing pro league affiliate member of US Soccer.