MLS to host new Caribbean Player Combine in Antigua in January

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By FRANCO PANIZO

The MLS Player Combine will not be the only place where some young hopefuls will be looking to catch the eyes of scouts from across the league.

MLS announced on Thursday that it has partnered with the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) to host a Caribbean player combine in 2014. Top players from the event, which is scheduled to run from Jan. 2-5 in St. John’s, Antigua, will earn an invitation to the annual adidas MLS Player Combine in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. later that month.

“We recognize that the CONCACAF area, and particularly the Caribbean, is rich with soccer talent,” MLS executive vice president Todd Durbin said in a statement released by the league. “This will be an opportunity for our scouts to evaluate and identify the region’s top players.”

The Caribbean has produced some top quality talent over the course of MLS’ 18 seasons, including Grenadian midfielder Shalrie Joseph, Jamaican veterans Donovan Ricketts, Ryan Johnson, and Omar Cummings, and Cuban midfielder Osvaldo Alonso.

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What do you think of the new Caribbean player combine? Liking the fact that MLS is investing more resources into finding untapped talent? Who’s your favorite Caribbean player in MLS history?

Share your thoughts below.

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29 Responses to MLS to host new Caribbean Player Combine in Antigua in January

  1. Andre Mariner says:

    FFS your scout coverage barely scratches the surface of our own country and now you’re setting up a pipeline for entire international regions?

    G*dd*mn*$*#($&#($@ PR nonsense.

    • Falls City Outlaw says:

      I think this is an excellent move for the league. The “scouting” of our own country is the responsibility of teams through their academies as well as college programs, the US Soccer residencies, and so forth. Tapping the best Caribbean talent will only help improve the quality in CONCACAAF, and subsequently, our national team.

  2. DC Josh says:

    Work travel to exotic locations, are MLS the new FIFA?

    This is a good move for MLS, utilizing resources to dig deeper into the CONCACAF region.

  3. Chris says:

    So this effectively will remove “discovery rights” for players from this region. Not sure what I think about that. Will this mean that teams get to spend less time scouting talent from this area and can focus on domestic talent?

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      That’s what I was going to say. Previously seemed like open season. Dynamo routinely sign people from down there. I know US college grads have typically gone through the draft and combine already, so that would suggest this would be more universal. I wonder if this applies to all ages….

      Might actually be beneficial for the combiners — who can show they are better than the next draft pick — as opposed to being a direct camp trialist who is immediately perceived as competing against the incumbents. Draft picks of course have to fight for spots but this might change their perception.

      Would this increase or surpress Caribbean player wages? My initial response was surpress, but then a high draft pick gets a high salary. You might do better as a pick than a trialist. What it might very well do is place pressure on those already being drafted — primarily US passport players — to be worth a darn, might impact their draft selection and salary.

      Also interesting because there had been some talk of a pan-CFU league of their best teams, although that seems to get batted around a lot without anything happening.

      • Beto says:

        Pan-CFU League would be a great idea.

        • yankiboy says:

          Beto-That would be debauchee has been lauded for a few years now…

          The now defunct USLPRO International Division launched back in Spring 2010 was a big step in that direction but disaster hit two of the clubs based in PR and the owner of the third stated that his team got kicked out in the collateral damage.

          Here’s the latest link that someone share with me last week:
          http://sports.yahoo.com/news/caribbean-eyes-professional-league-2015-013251037–sow.html

          I follow the CFU more than most people that I know and I think that the idea of a CFU league is wishful thinking–and that is being SUPELdiplomatic).

          • yankiboy says:

            ^Botched it. Spring 2011. It was so traumatic for me that I’m trying to make it longer ago than it was.

      • Mark says:

        “Would this increase or surpress Caribbean player wages?”
        Answer: It would increase the wages of players in the Caribbean. Supply of first XI Caribbean players would theoretically decrease when MLS (then NASL, USL, etc.) picks off the cream of the crop while demand for such players from Caribbean clubs remains constant.

  4. M says:

    To be honest, half of those Caribbean players listed were brought through the US system…Ryan Johnson came to the US when he was a baby, and Shalrie Joseph came when he was a teenager. Neither were signed directly from their home nations or went straight to college from the their home nations, such as Dane Richards.

    • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

      Understood for the article correction, but maybe that is why they are mining for players down there, no ?

      Find another Donovan Ricketts or Josoph or Johnson.

  5. Sam U El says:

    Cosmos in Bermuda for offseason now MLS to Antigua?

  6. Joe D says:

    This is the next logical step for the league. The single entity model makes these league-centric development events/academies a big draw for the smaller nations. Wouldn’t be surprised if we see similar combines in West Africa and Colombia/Ecuador, as well as more permanent development academies in those areas.

  7. Mike Santoro says:

    Higher talent usually leads to higher salaries. Higher salaries mean higher profile players coming over. Definitely a good thing for the MLS. Maybe not so good for USNT

    • SFTony says:

      Better competition in the league is not going to take shots from guys who would make the NT, it’s going to take jobs from the scrubs.

  8. Frank says:

    Will these players be entering the superdraft? If so I think it will be a good thing to increase the depth of talent to make the draft matter even more. This will also possibly alleviate some of the concerns about having too many teams in MLS diluting the overall talent pool

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      This would seem to suggest as much, since the next step from the CFU combine would be the MLS combine. Some homegrowns go through the process but generally speaking it seems to be a draft-oriented camp. The more veteran, non-college players historically seem to try out and sign more directly with individual teams, so this would be a change.

    • Mark says:

      I think you hit the nail on the head. The goal of expanding to 24 teams by 2020 (link to mlssoccer.com) would lead to even more quality dilution. The new starting spots will have to be filled from somewhere: a handful of DP signings, mid-level international and American/Canadian talent, homegrown players, and, worryingly, the U.S. college system. Adding a pipeline to untapped Caribbean talent appears like a great idea.

      While an earlier poster pointed out that many of the more well-known Caribbean players came through the U.S. college system, there are many examples of high quality players in Europe that may have first came to the MLS had this combine existed before such as Kenwyne Jones or Luton Shelton.

      Hopefully MLS and the USSF have behind-the-scenes plans to pressure the NCAA to reform their rules or individual colleges / college coaches to change their approach on their own. MLS/USSF could offer donations to colleges earmarked for the athletics department for running programs that develop MLS-ready talent. MLS will need more than just Maryland, Indiana, UCLA, Akron, etc. to consistently produce talent if it plans to expand to 24 teams.

  9. BAJ says:

    With this I would hope the amount of international slots goes up along with a salary cap increase. That or not have the Caribbean players count against international spots. Overall I think this Combine is a good idea.

    • Joe+G says:

      No way to exclude non-citizen/Green Card holders from the slots (even Canadians in the US need a slot). Pretty much US law says you can’t give preference to one country over another (with some exceptions that don’t have to do with this situation).

  10. BAJ says:

    Grabbing some of the top talent in the region before European clubs get a hold of them will be good. And I’m all for a stronger CONCACAF.

  11. PeteO says:

    Well, Shalrie Joseph was discovered by the MLS while playing in Jamaica but it happened to be the one in Queens.

  12. Beto says:

    Are they going to play on that mud pit cricket field that the US played a qualifier on last fall?

  13. Marc Silverstein says:

    and now the NASL just postponed their combine…

    link to jamaica-star.com