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The Daily Dirt, January 8: Combine starts today

Watch the combine games live

SOCCER: JAN 12 MLS Player Combine Photo by Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images

The 2017 MLS SuperDraft Combine gets started this afternoon at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. The participants are divided into four teams and will play doubleheaders today, Tuesday, and Thursday. MLS posted a schedule and links to live streams so you can watch the best prospects.

The SuperDraft can still be a very important part of building a MLS roster. The rise of the academy system is seeing more players developed internally, but the sheer size of the country means that some players will not be part of MLS academies. Also, some players will be late bloomers. The college game is still a valuable part of some players’ development.

Philadelphia improved from 9th to 6th and a playoff spot last year after adding three players in the top six picks. Their #3 pick, Keegan Rosenberry, was just called up to his first U.S. national team camp. Last year’s #12 pick, center back Jonathan Campbell, played 33 games in his rookie year with Chicago.

Cyle Larin was the #1 selection in 2015, he has scored 32 goals in 61 appearances with Orlando City. Tim Parker was picked by Vancouver at #13, he has made 60 appearances with the Whitecaps in two seasons while featuring for the U.S. U23 national team. Even further down the board, Cristian Roldan at #16 was a key piece of Seattle’s MLS Cup victory last season. Dominique Badji was a fourth round selection in 2015, he has scored 10 goals in 50 appearances with Colorado.

With two picks in the top eight, Atlanta United will be in a position to add two contributors to its roster in Friday’s draft. SuperDraft picks are by no means guarantees, even that high up in the draft, but talent will be available.

The Combine is the last chance for players to improve their stock. MLS cites two success stories in Tesho Akindele and Joao Plata. Both were unheralded coming into the combine, but their performances earned them higher draft picks and both have had successful careers in the league.

Over time, the SuperDraft has become less important in building a MLS roster, but it still has value currently. With a likely Generation adidas selection at #2 who will not count against the salary cap, that pick is even more valuable. If they hit on their #8 selection by choosing a player who can contribute to the club, Friday will have been a huge day in determining the success of Atlanta United in 2017.


Domestic

Interview with North Carolina FC owner Steve Malik regarding the future of the NASL, according to him 8 teams will make up the NASL’s spring and fall seasons, new teams to join in 2018 (WRAL Sportsfan)

Paraguayan striker Cristian Colman could be a target for FC Dallas (Big D Soccer)

Atletico Nacional does not want to give Alejandro Bernal to the Red Bulls (Once a Metro)

Celtic’s Kris Commons could have a MLS move lined up (Daily Record)

Akron’s Jonathan Lewis added to the 2017 Generation adidas class (MLS)

International

Gianni Infantino wants to see a merged North and South American qualifying process for the World Cup (Stars and Stripes FC)

Pachuca beats Leon 4-2 on a Hirving Lozano hat-trick (FMF State of Mind)