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The combine kicks off Saturday in Orlando and while the MLS draft is losing its influence, there’s still plenty for scouts to consider

ORLANDO, Fla. — Officials for Major League Soccer’s 23 teams have converged on the land of Disney to search for potential gems and bargains at the 2018 MLS combine. While the general consensus is that this year’s MLS draft is lighter on talent than in past years, the hunt is still very much on to unearth the kind of steals that can bolster a roster.

Teams need only to look to a year ago, when Atlanta United found Julian Gressel, who came into the 2017 MLS combine without a ton of fanfare. That year’s combine also helped the Philadelphia Union identify a late-round draft-day steal in central defender Jack Elliott, who developed into a regular starter as a rookie.

This year’s talent pool looks very different to past year’s groups. For one, it has a more international feel than ever before, with players from England, Spain and Germany, as well as a trio of Ghanaian-born Generation Adidas signings, leading the way in a class where much of the top-end talent is foreign born.

There is also a different distribution of talent positionally. Fullback has long been a tough area to find quality via the draft, while central defenders have traditionally been available in abundance. That’s not the case this year, with more and more players converting from attacking roles into attacking fullback roles, and with more of the country’s top center…



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