The Crew SC technical staff is on the ground in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. to observe six matches over the next five days and interview the top SuperDraft prospects at the 2015 adidas MLS Player Combine.
Though Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter and his staff have observed the available talent on film and in-person throughout the 2014 college season, the Combine presents an opportunity to get an up-close feel for a player's ability and intelligence.
"I think it’s crucial," Berhalter said before departing Columbus. "We’re up close and we’re watching them from a close view and you can see how they participate in the match. You can see their communication, and more importantly, you can get a better idea of their dynamic."
He continued: "It’s about their positioning off the ball, especially when they’re not near the ball on the other side of the field… You can really zero-in on them closely and get a good appreciation for how they’re contributing to the game."
With the 14th overall pick in this year's MLS SuperDraft, the Black & Gold will look for a player that can supplement a core of players that qualified for the 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs. Equally as important as skill and on-field prowess, the Combine serves as an opportunity for the Crew SC technical staff to get to know players on the personal side.
"The Combine is important in two ways," Berhalter explained. "The first way is we get to see them on the field, how they’re interacting with their teammates. For certain positions, we look for more of the vocal type of leader. In other positions, it’s more of the quiet communicator — the person who’s moving off the ball or doing things to help his teammates in other ways. The second way is, we get to interview these players.
"We’re up close, asking them important questions and getting an idea of what they’re like as people."
The 2015 adidas MLS Player Combine comes on the heels for Crew SC's own College Combine back on December 14 in Columbus. While the local combine was purposed more for finding "diamonds in the rough," the MLS Combine serves as a showcase for the top players available in the SuperDraft.
"The [MLS Player Combine] has the best of the best," Berhalter said. "We’re working with a different pool of players, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re not going to find someone [at the Crew SC College Combine]. Last year, sort of finding [Crew SC forward] Adam Bedell was a huge find in our combine. We look for the diamonds in the rough in our combine. It’s a way for us to tie-in to the local colleges and the regional colleges and really start relationships with these schools."
The 2015 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas takes place on January 15 in Philadelphia.