Opening 97 players selected to attend at IMG Academy
Thursday, January 19, 2012
TAMPA, Fla. - United Soccer Leagues announced today the first 97 players who have had their applications accepted for the USL PRO Combine, scheduled for January 26-29 at the IMG Academy soccer program in Bradenton, Fla. Among the players who will get the opportunity to be evaluated by USL PRO clubs, and other professional clubs such as Sweden's MalmÃ¶ FF, are 58 former USL PDL players looking to make the jump to the professional ranks.
âWe are very happy with the level of talent that will be on display in Bradenton next week,â USL National Technical Director Peter Mellor said. âWe believe there are a number of players who are ready to make the jump to the professional ranks from the PDL, and some current professional players attending who would fill a need for a team immediately.â
Being staged for the first time at the internationally recognized IMG Academy, the USL Combine will see the players divided into six squads, with each team playing three matches over the duration of the event. There will also be testing, team training sessions and for the second consecutive year two sessions devoted solely to goalkeeper development.
The IMG Academy soccer facility, which regularly houses Major League Soccer teams for preseason training, will provide great support for players as they try to reach the next level.
Among the players to watch at the Combine are Ventura County Fusion defender Dillon Barna, who was named to the PDL All-Western Conference Team in 2011, and the Mississippi Brilla's Michael Azira, who earned PDL All-Southern Conference honors in 2011. There are also a number of players who competed in the 2011 USL PDL Championship Game attending, with the Kitsap Pumas and Laredo Heat both sending multiple players to the event.
Other notable players include the Fresno Fuego's Tyler Reinhart, who had 12 goals in the 2011 PDL season, while Dion Peters had nine assists for the West Virginia Chaos in 13 games this past summer, finishing tied for 10th in the league in points.
They will be trying to follow in the footsteps of the 19 players from the 2011 USL PRO Combine who went on to secure professional contracts both in the United States and overseas after last year's event. Most notable of that group was Luke Mulholland, who was signed by the Wilmington Hammerheads of USL PRO and became the league's Rookie of the Year, scoring nine goals and adding five assists after moving up from the PDL's Reading United AC.
âThe opportunity the USL PRO Combine offers players like Luke Mulholland, or current Columbus Crew forward Tommy Heinemann who attended in 2008, is a great one,â Mellor said. âWe certainly hope that a large number of the players who will join us at the IMG Academy will be able to use the combine as a springboard to professional success in the future.â