Eddie Loewen on The Stand Outs At The MLS Combine
Former pro player Eddie Loewen grew up in Germany and got his start as a soccer player with youth soccer clubs FC Preussen Espelkamp and SC Herford before starting his professional career with FC Remscheid in 1998. Loewen has years of experience identifying talent in both Germany and the USA and attended the recent 2018 Player Combine in Florida.
Loewen shares his feedback on the adidas MLS Combine — noting that while there was numerous talented players, there was not a significant number of impact players.
Related Article: Eddie Loewen on American Youth Soccer: What’s Right and What’s Wrong
The highly organized MLS Combine provides the scouts with a great opportunity to analyze and identify players though a series of three games, along with physical testing and one on one interviews.
The Adidas MLS Combine was held at the Orlando City Stadium where players were divided into 4 teams; Team X, Team Nemeziz, Team Tango and Team Predator.
“The level of play was quite good, but I would be surprised if any of the players will become impact players in the MLS,” said Loewen.
Related Article: Eddie Loewen on Raising the Level of the Game
“I believe that the majority of the drafted players will get a chance to play in the MLS Development teams — their reserve teams which compete in the USL,” said Loewen.
The question is — Why does the NFL Draft get fans and coaches so excited?
“It is because fans believe that the drafted players will become impact players right away — and that simply is not happening in soccer.”
“None of the MLS coaches seemed really excited about the level of the players. In general, scouts seem to rate Hilliard-Arce along with Atuahene, Toye, and Bakero highly for the MLS Super Draft. Gordon Wild is still the player who impressed me the most,” said Loewen.
Why is it that many of the top collegiate players in the draft will not receive an opportunity to play in the MLS?
“The answer is — and I will quote a colleague of mine who coaches at the Bundesliga Club FC Nuernberg who replied to my question regarding an American youth soccer player who is debating to attend college or try to become a pro ….”
Reiner Geyer said, “If he wants to play college that is fine but then he chooses the path of recreational soccer known in Germany as Breitensport. Being a collegiate player has little to do with playing professional soccer — and often the professional dream is over!”
Loewen believes this is an indication of a major issue in player development.
“Our pyramid of player development is not set up correctly because college is positioned as the step before pro soccer but players in college programs are usually not prepared for the professional game,” said Loewen.
We are not preparing pros but preparing student athletes.
“We need to create a pathway that focuses solely on developing a pro player,” said Loewen. “We still can keep the pathway of the student-athletes — which is a great option — but we need to create another pathway to the top of our development pyramid.”
“The level of play I saw at the MLS Combine is most accurately compared with a 5th or maximum a 4th Division German soccer level,” said Loewen. “Scouts are not always right. Tom Brady is a great example.”
Here are the players that caught Loewen’s eye:
- Smith #98 Center Defender
- Nyemewero #96 FW
- Thiaw #92 Attacking Midfield
- Morrison #30 Center Defender
- Lema # 28 Center Midfield
- Wild # 33 Winger
- Opoku #52 Winger
- Lundgaard 17 GK
- Aguilar #40 Center Midfield
- Schwarzer #76 Center Midfield
Photo Credit: Major League Soccer.