By FRANCO PANIZO
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Most of the positive talk during the 2012 MLS Combine has surrounded the forwards and attacking midfielders, but one player who has performed well and does not play either of those positions is Chris Blais.
The 6-foot-4, 195-pound goalkeeper was one of the more consistent performers throughout the event, showing good command of his area and making a handful of fine saves in the process in all three of his team's games.
After recording a clean sheet for adiPure (white) in a scoreless draw with adiZero (blue) on Day 1, Blais helped his team avoid a huge meltdown in its 4-2 victory over Prime (green) on Sunday evening. After jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the first half, adiPure saw its advantage cut to two after goals from James Kiffe and Babayele Sodade.
That lead may have completely vanished had it not been for Blais, who denied Darren Mattocks on a point-blank effort and stopped another potent shot late.
"I thought I did everything I could in the game. I thought I did well on crosses, I made some saves," Blais said after the game. "I was joking, I was telling the guys 'I was pretty busy for a 4-0 game,' so I thought I did well and showed myself well."
Blais, a Seattle native, also looked strong against the most stacked team at the combine, adiPower (red). He came up with several strong blocks in a 4-1 loss on Tuesday that could have been a lot worse if not for Blais' efforts.
He denied Dartmouth's Luckymore Mkosana from close range in the first half and also came up with a kick save off a deceptive free kick for two of his better moments of the day.
Blais has done almost all that could have been asked of him during the three days of games at the combine, three days that have complemented his four years of work at the collegiate level. He starred for South Florida in 2011 following a three-year stay with Michigan that included a berth in the 2010 College Cup.
As part of a goalkeeping class that does not have a distinguished top prospect and is not rated as highly as others in years past, Blais is hoping his performances help get him selected in the two-round MLS SuperDraft on Thursday.
"I feel like I've played as well as I can, left it all on the field," said Blais after the second day. "That's all I can really ask for."
Blais says he has heard good things about his performances from different people since the combine began last Friday. That does not guarantee that he will be drafted, but his chances likely have increased after several impressive outings despite him trying to sort through playing with an unfamiliar back line.
Blais, who has previously trained with the Seattle Sounders and the Vancouver Whitecaps as well as with U.S. men's national team goalkeeper Tim Howard, also says he has no preference of location should he get drafted.
What he would like, however, is a place that will allow him to develop.
"For me, just a place that would be a good destination for a goalkeeper, people that are looking for a goalkeeper," Blais said. "I think there's a few different teams that have good opportunities. That's all I really want, a good opportunity."