LAUDERHILL, Fla. – The matches get most of the attention, but the most important moments of the 2016 adidas MLS Player Combine may just take place back at the hotel.
That’s where clubs and players sit down for their pre-SuperDraft interviews, and, in some cases, it’s where draft decisions are made.
All 20 MLS clubs interview Combine participants, with many teams meeting with a vast majority of the prospects assembled in South Florida. Clubs have varied approaches to the interview process. Some teams have their entire technical staff sit down with prospects, while others limit the size of their group to two or three people. Some clubs have a set script of questions, and other teams aim for more of a free-flowing, organic discussion.
Regardless of their methods, every team is aiming for the same thing: A better sense of who a player is, how he thinks, how he carries himself and, perhaps most importantly, how he might fit in with their locker room.
Most teams make sure to include a little bit about themselves in their meetings. After all, interviews are a two-way street. Clubs don’t just want to leave a meeting impressed with a player; they want the player to be impressed with them, too.
“We feel strongly about any time someone interacts with us, whether it’s at our training facility, at our stadium, comes to visit our staff and our team, we want them to walk away with a feeling that Red Bulls are trying to do things the right way,” said New York head coach Jesse Marsch. “So we have a little video presentation; we’ll show them a little bit about what we’re about, who we are, how we play, that’s the first part that we try to achieve in our interviews. Ideally, we want to have each guy walk away going, ‘Man, it’d be great to play for the Red Bulls.'"
The 2016 MLS SuperDraft will be held on January 14, 2016, in Baltimore, Maryland.