Tuesday, February 26, 2013
The North American Soccer League Combine was a good experience for me overall. I enjoyed my trip to Florida and my time on the field. After a long off-season it was certainly a nice feeling to be back on the pitch and to be playing games again. The event was very well run and the facilities were top class; the grass field at Lockhart stadium was fantastic. It was relatively hot, especially compared to Vancouver at this time of year, where I've been training the last couple of months.
The level of play at the combine was quite good overall and there were some decent players there. There were players from all over the world in attendance. It was interesting to get to know some of the players off the field and hear their stories. However thats not why any of us were there. The main goal at an event like the NASL Combine is to impress on the field. Playing in an invitational tryout or combine, is never an easy experience for anyone. You're surrounded by players you've never played with before and have to play together with; even though you're competing for spots against them. At times it can be frustrating as certain players are very selfish and are only interested in playing for themselves. I've come to learn that mindset doesn't get anyone very far. Of course you want to be on the ball as much as possible, but it's very important to show that you can make the correct decisions, at the right times. I don't let these kinds of situations stress me out and I just go out and play my normal game.
The Combine was a three-day event, with three games in three days. Day One of the combine was what everyone expected it to be, slightly scrappy football and a fair bit of miscommunication from all the teams. Everyone wanted to make a good first impression and because of that, many of the players nerves were apparent. Day Two was better overall and in my opinion the best day of the combine. On a personal level it was the best day for me, as I had my best performance, scoring a goal and having a part in the other goals my team scored. The standard of play on Day 3 dropped again, but that was to be expected as there were many heavy legs out there. It's never easy for anyone to play three games in three days, but especially for players that have been out of contract or are in the middle of their off-season, which was the case for pretty much every player there. My team ended the combine with the best overall record, which was a good result for everyone. Although we were all there to play for our futures, it was a nice feeling to come out of the event as the best team.
Overall I was happy with how I played at the combine and have received some positive feedback on my play. Having been back in Vancouver for a few weeks now and looking back on the experience, I'm happy that I was invited and attended the event. It was interesting for me to compare myself to other players that have been playing professionally in North America or are trying to break into the professional game here. I'm currently assessing my different options and will be making another trip in the very near future for pre-season training. I will post another update in the next week or so on my next move, so stay tuned for the latest!