It’s time for the MLS combine, when college seniors and Generation Adidas players showcase their wares for MLS coaches and general managers. While the players receive most of the attention, we thought we would take a look at the business side of the combine. Buzz Carrick, of the highly regarded 3rd Degree website, and a veteran of covering MLS combines, was kind enough of to answer a few questions for us about the business of the combine. In addition to running 3rd Degree, Mr. Carrick also covers the draft for ESPN.com and provides detailed analysis of the prospects for both his website and ESPN. Thanks to Mr. Carrick for his answers.
Footiebusiness.com: In what form are league sponsors typically present? Is there signage,
apparel and/or personnel from these sponsors at the event? To the extent
sponsor representatives are in attendance, what role do they play?
Buzz Carrick: The only sponsor I recall ever seeing is adidas. They have signage on
the field and the team jerseys are all provided by them. Also the teams are
named after shoes in the adidas soccer line. I don’t know of any sponsor
FB: The players will stay at the Westin in Fort Lauderdale. Are meals
arranged for players? How about travel? Are events arranged for down time?
Do sponsors get a certain amount of time with select players? Do the players
have non-field MLS responsibilties, such as interviews with MLSnet.com?
BC: I believe meals are arranged and the league pays for travel. The players
are required to do some combine type testing, sprints, agility etc. I think
interviews with any media, including MLSnet, are on a request basis. There
is a chance to talk to any player post each combine game. Players are given
time off and there is a rest day after the first two. The keepers run
through a training/scouting session on the off day.
FB: How has media coverage of the event grown over the years? How many
media typically attend? What arrangements are made for media with respect
to player/coach access? Do team personnel make themselves available to
media during the combine?
BC: Media coverage has gone up a little bit over the years but not by much.
Usually there are between 1 or 2 professional media and 5 or 6 “bloggers” on
their own dime. There are no specific arrangements for media other than
asking the one MLS PR person around for an interview, or just walking up to
any given player after a game. There is also no specific method to talk to
MLS coaches. You can either go through the team PR, or just walk over and
talk to them. There is a press box with one person for PR who has some
basic materials. The press can also sit in the stands on the side of the
stadium that is coaches/media only. The public is limited to the “open”
stands on the other side.
FB: Are the players cognizant of those that have GA contracts versus those
fighting to get noticed? How does this dynamic play itself out?
BC: Yes the players are aware. There isn’t really any difference that I can
tell, beyond some players signed to deals in advance not playing quite as
hard later in the combine. Players who have no deal usually play hard
through all three games. That’s about the only difference, although I don’t
any would admit it.
extra… one thing you didn’t ask is about agents. All of them are here, or
at least have handlers and reps. Most of these players go into the combine
and draft without agents, so the agents are here scouting and trying to land
guys at the same time MLS is. They are ever-present through almost
Thanks to Buzz Carrick for providing some great insight into the business of the MLS Combine.