Today marks the start of the annual NASL Combine, a three day tryout in sunny Fort Lauderdale. Over 60 players from all over the world have been invited to display their talents in front of NASL coaches in the hope of earning a professional contract.
The combine, now in its third year, has proven to be very successful in identifying talent to fill NASL rosters. In 2012, a total of nine combine participants landed professional contracts with NASL teams.
Fort Lauderdale Strikers talisman Mark Anderson was the biggest success to come from last year’s combine. The Englishman was snubbed by MLS despite an impressive college career with Barry University, but was picked up by the Strikers after impressing coach Daryl Shore at the combine.
Neither party has looked back since, with Anderson penning a long-term deal with the South Florida side after leading the team in scoring his rookie campaign. The Durham native was named Offensive Player of the Week twice, and was on the NASL Best XI at the end of the season.
Anderson’s teammate at the Strikers, Darnell King was another player signed from the combine who enjoyed a promising rookie season. The forward from Tampa, Florida will continue donning the red-and-gold shirt of the Strikers in 2013.
Other combine participants to earn contract renewals at their clubs were Breiner Ortiz (Carolina RailHawks), and Draymond Washington (Tampa Bay Rowdies). The Rowdies declined options on Thurston Johnson and Fafa Picault.
One player who did not renew his contract was Frenchman Serisay Barthélémy. The diminutive forward was one of two players picked up by FC Edmonton at last year’s event. He has been invited back to the combine again this season in hopes of impressing once again.
Fellow Frenchman Pascal Chimbonda is the name on everyone’s lips as the combine approaches. The 33 year-old defender is looking for a club following several successful seasons in the English Premier League with such clubs as Wigan Athletic, Blackburn Rovers, and Tottenham Hotspur.
The 2013 NASL Combine will take place at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The schedule is as follows:
Friday, Feb. 1 – Game 1 @ 1:30pm and Game 2 @ 3:30pm
Saturday, Feb. 2 – Game 1 @ 1:30pm and Game 2 @ 3:30pm
Sunday, Feb. 3 – Game 1 @ 10:00am and Game 2 @ 12:00pm
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