Lalas photo combine
File photo of Crew SC 2017 SuperDraft selection Lalas Abubakar

MLSsoccer.com | 5 players to watch in the Combine

This piece was originally published by MLSsoccer.com contributor David Gass on Jan. 10, 2018

With the 2018 adidas MLS Player Combine set to kick off with the first doubleheader of matches on Saturday, Jan. 13 (streamed live on MLSsoccer.com), there are over 60 players descending upon Orlando with a lot to prove.

Whether they already have an MLS contract or not, every player will need to show that his talents translate to the professional level and specifically to a specific position on the field. 

Here are five players who need to answer those questions and whose draft stock will likely be impacted by how they perform during the three doubleheaders. 

5. Chris Mueller (Midfielder, Wisconsin)

Mueller built himself a strong resume leading Wisconsin soccer to historic heights. As many college No. 10s typically experience, Mueller will likely now have to find a new position at the next level.

A lethal set-piece taker, the question will be whether he can find a way to play centrally in MLS or whether he will be forced out to the wing. Expect the coaches to move him around over the course of the week in Orlando to test him out.

4. Joao Moutinho (Defender/Midfielder, Akron)

A product of the Sporting CP youth academy, Moutinho was a part of an international-heavy Akron squad.

He played as a left-footed, left-sided center back during most of his time in college, displaying great technique and a good range of passing. It will be fascinating to see if he will be moved farther up the field during the Combine to show off his skills at central midfield or perhaps even at left back.

3. Tristan Blackmon (Defender, Pacific)

One of the best fullbacks entering the draft, any team that picks him up could be looking at an opening day starter.

At 6-foot-1, Blackmon brings good size to the position and has a great engine to work up and down the sideline. His size also allows positional flexibility to move inside to center back in a 3-5-2 or even in a flat four.

2. Wyatt Omsberg (Defender, Dartmouth)

A 6-foot-4 behemoth at center back, Omsberg has the task that all big center backs face at the Combine: To prove they can keep up with the speed at the top level.

Colorado Rapids standout defender Axel Sjoberg did it in 2015, while Brandon Aubrey toppled down the draft boards in 2017 because he could not. The New England native could be attractive to the Revs, who have back-to-back picks in the top 10.

1. Gordon Wild (Forward, Maryland)

The German-born striker is perhaps the most interesting case heading into this year's Combine.

Expected to be a Generation adidas player last year after scoring 33 goals in his first two college seasons, he instead chose to return to Maryland for his junior season. But things did not go as planned. After opening the season on a tear, Wild went cold and failed to score in the final 13 matches of the campaign.

A dominant left-footed goal poacher, he clearly has fans in MLS after agreeing to a Generation adidas deal, but he'll need to show he can get back to the levels of 2016-'17.

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