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MLS Combine begins Friday: Names to know one week from the SuperDraft

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How important, for better or worse, is the MLS Combine in relation to a player’s draft prospects?

Eighteen of the 21 players who were first round selections at the 2015 MLS SuperDraft participated in the combine, and it took to pick No. 8 for a non-combine player to be selected (Clement Simonin of NC State).

All five of the Generation Adidas players aren’t heading to the combine. Outside of those five, you’ll see most of Jan. 14’s draftees coming from the Combine.

[ MLS: Meet the five Generation Adidas players for the 2016 SuperDraft ]

The 2016 Combine will pit four squads of 15 players against each other for matches on Friday, Sunday and Tuesday. Full rosters are here.

A disclaimer: the MLS Combine is far from ideal. Many players won’t be playing in their natural positions, and most have been out of game action for a month or more.

We’ll list the draft order below, and won’t bother you with a mock draft at this point. But here are some names to monitor over the next five days, ones who could make big moves under the bright lights.

Brandon Vincent, D, Stanford — Jordan Morris is a stud, sure, but his college teammate could honestly be the No. 1 overall pick if Chicago sees it close and personal this week.

Callum Irving, GK, Kentucky — The Canadian backstop played with the Whitecaps Academy before starring for the Wildcats.

Neco Brett, F, Robert Morris — A bit mercurial and undersized, you cannot ignore that Brett scored 15, 14 and 13 goals in his last three seasons in Moon. The Jamaican born striker has speed to burn and a classy touch.

Patrick Hodan, M, Notre Dame — Has a legitimate chance to be a 10-year vet in the league. A solid leader who was invited to Andreas Herzog’s U-23 College ID camp in the summer.

Kyle Fisher, D, Clemson — After a College Cup season with the Tigers, Fisher is poised to be a first year contributed in Major League Soccer.

James Moberg, M, Washington — Big and coming off a season-ending knee injury, the 6-foot-2 senior has a chance to show off the promise of elite playmaking he showed in his first three seasons (6, 9 and 6 assists).

Thomas Sanner, F, Princeton — 6-foot-4 forwards with noses for goal don’t grow on trees, and Sanner is the Tigers’ third-all-time leading scorer with 32 in 64 games.

  1. Chicago Fire
  2. Colorado Rapids
  3. Philadelphia Union
  4. New York City FC
  5. Real Salt Lake
  6. Philadelphia Union
  7. Orlando City
  8. San Jose Earthquakes
  9. Toronto FC
  10. New England Revolution
  11. Sporting KC
  12. L.A. Galaxy
  13. D.C. United
  14. Montreal Impact
  15. Seattle Sounders
  16. Vancouver Whitecaps
  17. FC Dallas
  18. New York Red Bulls
  19. Columbus Crew
  20. Portland Timbers

Princeton Ali? Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch is bullish on fellow Tigers alum Al-Hussein

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Before Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein was trying to unseat Sepp Blatter as the president of FIFA, he was a college kid running around the Princeton campus in a Real Madrid jersey.

At the time, he was also a classmate of former Tigers star and current New York Red Bulls boss Jesse Marsch, who was recently asked about the candidate for FIFA’s highest office (Al-Hussein re-declared his intentions Tuesday after Blatter announced his plans to resign).

[ MORE: All the FIFA news you need ]

They haven’t been in touch since 1995, but Marsch’s impressions of the prince were strong and favorable.

From Metro NY:

“Prince Ali has always been a really smart guy, a really bright guy. When I knew him at Princeton, he was visible on campus but very integrated in campus. And liked being a Princetonian. Was Jordanian but also was very cosmopolitan. He spoke very good English, a very smart guy. A lot of experiences, a lot of international experiences. If you know Jordanians, they are very progressive people. I’ve been to Jordan, I’ve seen [it] first hand. I think Prince Ali is a good representative of what his people are like,” Marsch told Metro on Tuesday.

From his memories of Prince Ali, he thinks that Jordan’s prince is the right man to shake things up at corrupt FIFA.

“I think he’d be a great candidate. He was always into football when we were at Princeton. He’d wear jerseys occasionally – international like Real Madrid, stuff like that,” Marsch said.

“I think he’s represented himself really well in the campaign as a smart guy, as a guy who cares about the right things, a guy who won’t be influenced. I think he has a pretty good track record of being an honest, good, smart person even as a royal coming from Jordan. I think he’s a real guy and I think he’d be a steady hand to have in charge of FIFA.”

Marsch was paid $100,000 for those favorable comments, with crisp unmarked bills stuffed into an envelope labeled “POWER”.

We kid, we kid.

It’s an interesting time for FIFA, as all candidates will and should be met with a healthy dose of skepticism. FIFA’s had the old “absolute power corrupts absolutely” cliche operating at will under Blatter. Here’s hoping “the good of soccer” becomes a real concept for the next president and his assistants (not minions).