Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2011 USL Men's Player Combine: As the dust settles

Sunday wrapped up the fifth annual USL Men's Players Combine in Charleston, SC.

The final day of the combine featured three more matches.  The teams were supposed to kick-off at 8am but frost on the pitch delayed the start time slightly and forced the first match to be played on one of the Charleston Battery's practice fields.  The second match started off as the sun warmed up the grass and the spectators alike and by the third match it had turned quite pleasant.

The matches definitely were a bit more aggressive, a combination of players wanting to impress and tired legs.  Its always tough to get the whole picture of a player when watching a couple matches with unfamiliar teammates but a few players did impress me over the weekend.

Highlight of the weekend was midfielder Luke Mulholland.  Mulholland scored twice over the weekend, one a wicked free kick from about 25 yards out, but more importantly showed confidence and composure on and off the ball.  Mulholland was a stand out with PDL Reading United AC and will no doubt will find a spot on a team this season.

Another was Ally Hassan.  The 6-3 striker held the ball up and played well with is back to goal.  He was very good with his feet and worked hard off the ball, creating space and opportunities for his teammates.

Tunde Ogunbiyi of Boston College
and PDL side, Ocean City
There were a few others that seemed to shine above the group.  Both the Japanese players, Takashi Kanta and Hodaka Yonesawa played well even they needed to adapt to a more physical style of play.  Forward Aboubacarim Ndaw and Anteneh Lemma  both were very strong on the ball, giving the central defenders fits while they were on the field. 

In the net, Tunde Ogunbiyi (photo at right) seemed to have a good day on Saturday but wasn't really tested on Sunday.

The College of Charleston also had four players in the Combine.  Justin Fojo, Sean Bateau, Sean Flatley, and Kareem Yearwood.  Fojo and Bateau benefited from playing on the same team at the combine.  Fojo seemed to possess some very good leadership qualities in midfield while Bateau made some great runs down the wing.  Flatley was a commanding presence in central defense, winning headers and organizing the back line.  Sadly I didn't get to see Yearwood much and the half he played, he didn't receive the ball much up top. 

But so much more goes into signing a player.  Clubs might be only looking for a certain type of player or a position.  Clubs have budget restrictions, there are limits on foreign players on rosters.  There also are the needs or wants of a player to take into consideration.

Historically only about 20% of the players that attend the combine go on to a professional contract.  I wouldn't be surprised if that number is higher this year.  With MLS expanding their rosters and adding two expansion teams this season and with USL expanding by 9 teams, there are plenty of spots open for these young players.  Good Luck to all the players that attended.

No Quarter would like to than USL and especially Nicholas Murray, Jason Arnold and Jeff McRaney for their support. 

This upcoming weekend the Battery host the second of their open trials.  No Quarter hopes to bring you a bit more insight to those open trials as well.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

2011 USL Men's Player Combine: Two days in

They have come from all over the world; 102 players from countries like England, Liberia, Japan, El Salvador, Mexico and of course the United States.  All wanting to fulfill the dream of becoming a professional soccer player.  Many come through the college ranks, some barely 18 years-old, others a bit older but not ready to let go of the dream. 

Friday was the first day of the combine for a majority of the players selected to attend.  The goalkeepers were run through a special session on Thursday and Friday morning.  While the rest checked in and prepared for the what will be a grueling weekend. 

After checking in receiving room assignments, information packets, uniforms and tote bags provided by the combine sponsor Umbro, the players are split up into six teams, each with a coach ranging from current PDL coaches to an assistant coach with MLS Chicago Fire, Larry Sunderland.

Joshua Borja, fromCal S tate-Chico runs
through a drill

Each team started with an team work out, directed by their respective coaches.  Most dealt with footwork drills and some small group passing skills.  Most finished the 70 minute session with small scrimmage matches within there own teams.

Next up was the fitness test.  Players were timed on the 40 meter dash using a computer and marker set up that timed not only the 40 meter distance time, but the 5 meter, 10 meter and 25 meter distances.  This give a more accurate view of a players explosive speed as well as acceleration. Once that was completed player completed the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test

Day two was all scrimmages between teams.  Each team played two matches one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

It was a surprisingly cold morning but the players didn't seem to mind as most were sweating by the end of their matches.  I on the other had had numb fingers and toes!  The sun peaked out as the third game of the morning was finishing.  After a lunch break, the matches resumed and seemed to played at a higher intesity as teh player seem to shake off their nerves.

Aboubacarim Ndaw from Senegal (blue)
  battles Thomas McClean from Scotland

As part of their evaluations, each player wore a bra-like device underneath their jerseys that held a small sensor that recorded several vitals and the movement during their match. Also, video that will be integrated with dartfish software was recorded.  Hopefully we can provide more information and possibly an example of this unique technology in the next few days.

As to the matches themselves, USL is providing an excellent recap on the matches. head over to http://www.uslsoccer.com/ or follow them live at twitter @USLpro.  Also check out the great feature stories on several players as well as some video clips.

The final day of the combine is tomorrow with three more games played in the morning.  The waiting game then starts for many players.  Best of luck to all them.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2011 USL Men's Player Combine: The Calm Before the Storm

Beginning Thursday, The Charleston Battery will host more than 100 players fighting to fulfill their dreams of becoming a professional soccer player at the 2011 USL Men's Player Combine.

This is the fifth year of the combine which has placed 125 players on professional teams. The combine will also host a large number of coaches, scouts and representatives from various teams in North America including MLS's Chicago Fire, San Jose Earthquakes and Sporting Kansas City.

Training will be held on both the Battery training pitch and at Blackbaud Stadium from approximately 9:30am to 7:00pm each day. 

Unique this year is a special goalkeeper session and the use of Dartfish technology.  Players will have the opportunity to have their performance analysed by Dartfish software that tracks player movement, passing metrics and player efficiency.

No Quarter plans to attend as much of the combine as possible and bring you regular reports on the Combine. USL will also be bringing you updates of training sessions and the scrimmages available via twitter.com/USLPRO and daily recaps and stories on USLSoccer.com and facebook.com/USLSoccer.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lions, Eagles and Rhinos.. Oh My!

United Soccer Leagues announced their USL Pro 2011 regular season schedule today.  The league will consist of 15 teams with the Charleston Battery pairing up with familar foes, Charlotte and Richmond while meeting Wilmington Hammerheads for the first time in league play.  The Battery will also face new comers the Orlando City SC, Dayton Dutch Lions and FC New York amongst others.

According to sources, The preparation of the rumored 16th team didn't met the USL standards for the 2011 season and they were told to wait until 2012.

The league is divided into three conferences;  National, American and International.

The Charleston Battery will belong to the American conference along with Orlando City SC, Charlotte Eagles, Richmond Kickers, and Wilmington Hammerheads. 

The National conference consists of Rochester Rhinos, Harrisburg City Islanders, FC New York, Dayton Dutch Lions, and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

The International Conference will be made up of three teams from the island of Puerto Rico,  River Plate PR, Puerto Rico United, and PR Sevilla FC as well as the Antigua Barracudas and the LA Blues.

The regular season will run a total of 24 matches, 12 at home and 12 away.  The post season format is set to be released in the upcoming weeks.  The Battery kicks off the season at home April 9 against Charlotte Eagles and ends the regular season August 12 against the Eagles at home as well.

Here is a quick look at the Battery schedule. 
Home games

Saturday, April 9 Charlotte Eagles 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 30 Pittsburgh Riverhounds 7:30 PM
Friday, May 13 FC New York 7:30 PM
Tuesday, May 24 Richmond Kickers 7:30 PM
Saturday, May 28 Harrisburg City Islanders 7:30 PM
Friday, June 17 Dayton Dutch Lions 7:30 PM
Saturday, June 25 Pittsburgh Riverhounds 7:30 PM
Friday, July 1 Puerto Rico United 7:30 PM
Saturday, July 9 Orlando City 7:30 PM
Thursday, July 14 Wilmington Hammerheads 7:30
Saturday, July 30 Rochester Rhinos 7:30 PM
Friday, August 12 Charlotte Eagles 7:30 PM

Six Saturday night, four Friday night matches and two games midweek. Not as many Saturday night matches as last season but there has been some rumors of a TV deal with FSC once again this season.  If it is handled like it has been in the past, those televised matches were on Friday nights.  EDIT:  An email release from the Battery Front Office contained a chart of the Battery Schedule the letters "TV" next to two matches, the July 1st match against Puerto Rico United and the season finale on August 12 against CharlotteSet your DVRs!

Away games

Saturday, April 16 Dayton Dutch Lions 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 23 Richmond Kickers 6:30 PM
Friday, April 29 Charlotte Eagles 7:00 PM
Friday, May 6 Pittsburgh Riverhounds 7:00 PM
Saturday, May 7 Rochester Rhinos 7:00 PM
Saturday, May 21 Wilmington Hammerheads 7:30
Friday, June 3 FC New York 7:30 PM
Saturday, June 4 Harrisburg City Islanders 7:00 PM
Thursday, June 9 Sevilla FC Puerto Rico
Saturday, June 11 Puerto Rico United 8:30 PM
Saturday, July 23 Dayton Dutch Lions 7:30 PM
Saturday, August 6 Orlando City 7:35 PM

Only one trip to Puerto Rico for the Battery with one match on Thursday and the second on the Saturday over June 9 -11.  There are also two back to back matches on the road.   The first is May 6 against Pittsburgh and May 7th against Rochester.  The second is June 3 against FC New York followed by June 4 against Harrisburg City Islanders. 
Overall the it looks like an exciting schedule with the Battery playing most teams twice.  The exception being no matches against LA Blues, Antigua or River Plate PR.  The Battery also plays Charlotte three times, twice at home and once on the road.
Look for information about a bus trip to Wilmington on May 21 with the possibility of other as well. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Heinemann signs with the Columbus Crew

Tommy Heinemann, the co-MVP of the 2010 USL2 Champions match is on to the next level; Major League Soccer.

Heinemann signed a contract that will keep him in yellow and black, unfortunately for Charleston Battery fans those are the colors of the Columbus Crew.  

Heinemann  (arms raised) sets up Lamar Neagle for a goal
during the 2010 USL2 Championship match
2010 was a big year for the big man.  He found his way into the starting line up this season with the Battery, starting 21 games and scoring eight goals and seven assists.  After setting up both goals in the Championship win over the Richmond Kickers,  Heinemann then completed the 2010 season with Carolina Railhawks, making an immediate impact with the team, scoring six goals for the Railhawks in two months.  If you missed it, No Quarter interviewed Tommy in October and you can read it here:  One on One with Tommy Heinemann

Then if that wasn't enough, Tommy got married in November.

It was a busy year to say the least, but his hard work have certainly paid off for him as he starts off 2011 with the Columbus Crew.

"It feels great to be going to MLS,"  said Tommy via email.  "It's every players dream to play at the highest level they can and this is the next challenge for me."

"Its a blessing from God and I thank him for it"  Tommy continued.

"I really cannot say enough thanks for all your support at No Quarter and that of the Battery and their fans," he concluded.  "At least I'm keeping the colors the same!"

We are sure Heinemann will do well for the Crew and No Quarter wishes him the best of luck.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

USL Announces 2011 Combine Players

USL selected 101 players from the USL PDL and overseas to attend the 2011 Players Combine hosted by the Charleston Battery at Blackbaud Stadium.

USL Press Release

The combine kicks off on Jan 20 and last through Jan 23.  

More than 400 players applied to play in the 2011 featuring  2010 PDL All-League selection Frank Alesci (Jersey Express) , and he is joined by players such as former PDL All-Conference selections Carl Reynolds (New Orleans Jesters), Stewart Givens (Michigan Bucks) and Guilherme Reis (Bradenton Academics).

No Quarter plans to be in attendence to bring you some insight into the players and the way the combine operates

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Another Local Soccer Blog

This one started up a little over a week ago and here is part three in a series, Top Ten South Carolina Soccer Stories of 2010: 3-1...:

"In the last two days, we've reviewed the number 10 through number 4 soccer stories in South Carolina this year. Here are the top three to wr..."

Check out their archives for the first two parts and some other good articles.