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Review and Analysis: MLS Combine Matchday One

I review what we saw from the first day of MLS Combine games, spotlighting the performance of Jon Bakero.

MLS: Combine Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The MLS Combine is now in full swing. Saturday was the first matchday, where the four teams of college players took part in 80-minute matches in the hopes of impressing scouts and coaches.

We have picked out four players to watch in the Combine, three targets for Minnesota United’s fifth overall SuperDraft pick, and a player with a local NPSL connection. In order to give the most in-depth coverage that we can, I’ll be focusing in on one of Minnesota’s potential picks for each matchday while making scouting reports on the others’ performances.

Tomas Hilliard-Arce

Hilliard-Arce, a centerback out of NCAA Champions Stanford, has been projected to go number one overall in a few mock drafts...He didn’t get too many opportunities to shine for Team Tango in their 1-1 draw with Team X...He seems to be able to pick out passes nicely from the back...Good ability to deflect passes...Let in goal after iffy aerial marking, likely miscommunication...Would need a strong centerback partner to be at best.

MLS: Combine
Hilliard-Arce (50) makes a tackle.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Mueller

Mueller, a midfielder from Wisconsin, was the best player on the pitch for Team Tango...He got the start at left mid, but drifted in plenty...His positioning varied as the match went on...He could fit in as a winger or central midfielder as well...Great field vision and ability to place passes in attack...Tremendous work rate, takes off on a run as soon as he passes the ball off...Excellent crossing, creates more than just first-time chances...Makes himself open, even when the ball is on the opposite side...Shots from outside the box aren’t the greatest, as are one-on-one ball skills...Needs space to operate...Intelligent player, knows what is going on around him...Looks like he could come off the bench in an MLS game easily.

Brandon Bye

Bye, a forward and right back combination out of Western Michigan who also plays for Minneapolis City, came on at halftime to play right back...Eager to move up the field...Solid pace, able to cross on the run...No concerns about tracking back for defensive responsibilities...May be challenged by top division wingers, but very real chance of being a first-round selection.

Jon Bakero

Bakero, a forward from Wake Forest, is our first spotlighted prospect...In the above video (apologies for the watermark), I go over some of his performance from the first matchday...His individual, on-on-one skills are good...He has moments of flair all over the place...His positioning is poor...He doesn’t receive many chances, solely because he isn’t accessible to teammates...Great at the college level, may have difficulty facing top-division opponents...

Want to see some of the action? Check out this highlight video from MLS: