Division III represented at the 2014 MLS Player Combine
Messiah forward Josh Wood (left) and Redlands defender Richie Marquez are participating in the MLS Player Combine.
Two Division III players were added to the list of participants in the 2014 Major League Soccer (MLS) Player Combine set to take place Thursday, January 9 through Tuesday, January 14 near Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Messiah forward Josh Wood and Redlands defender Richie Marquez are among the approximately seventy prospects that will be trying to impress MLS coaching staffs and other scouts ahead of the MLS SuperDraft on Thursday, January 16.
The combine primarily features NCAA Division I college seniors, but also additional collegiate seniors, underclassmen who sign Generation adidas® contracts, and other international invitees. Invitations to Division III players have become rare in the past ten years.
Josh Wood was selected the D3soccer.com Forward of the Year. The fifth-year senior scored a team-high 21 goals for national champion Messiah, assisting on an additional seven goals for 49 points which ranked sixth nationally. The center forward was credited with 10 game-winning goals and tallied four goals, three assists in the NCAA tournament to help the Falcons to their tenth national title and fourth during Wood's time on the team.
Wood is the third Messiah player to participate in the event, following in the footsteps of Hayden Woodworth and Kai Kasiguran who, like Wood this year, were NSCAA Players of the Year in 2002 and 2007, respectively. Woodworth went on to be drafted by D.C. United in the 2003 SuperDraft, but was never signed to a contract. Kasiguran was picked by Chicago Fire in the 2008 Supplemental Draft and was signed to a contract. Injuries limited his opportunities to some preseason matches and reserve team appearances and he was released a year later.
Richie Marquez was named a D3soccer.com Third Team All-American. The defender played in and started all but one game during his four years at Redlands and finished his collegiate career as one of the program's most decorated players, including 2013 SCIAC Player of the Year and 2012 NSCAA Third Team All-American honors. He helped the Bulldogs to the Sweet 16 in 2011 when their defense posted a 0.58 GAA.
Marquez is the second Redlands player to participate in the combine joining forward Ross Schunk who participated in 2009 before being drafted by the Colorado Rapids in that year's SuperDraft. Schunk was signed to a contract and made 3 first team appearances in 2009 before a torn ACL sidelined him for all of the Rapid's 2010 championship season before he was released. Another former Bulldog, forward Adam Acosta, was on the Real Salt Lake roster for the 2006 season, but failed to make an appearance. Like Marquez, Schunk and Acosta garnered SCIAC Player of the Year and All-American honors.
Players are divided into four teams for the duration of the combine. Teams play each other in a round-robin format with games taking place on Friday, Sunday, and Tuesday. Wood has been placed on the adiZero team which will don blue uniforms and was given the No. 58 jersey. Marquez will wear the No. 87 shirt for the green-outfitted Predator team. Their teams meet on the final gameday, Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET. For the full schedule and complete list of participants, go to the combine home page. There is no live coverage of the games.