Balls at YSC 2014
Greg Carroccio

Union technical staff looking for diamonds in the rough with two-day professional combine

The process has been fluid.

It will continue to be that way until the 2015 regular season opens in March.

After recently removing the interim tag from Jim Curtin, the Philadelphia Union named René Meulensteen as a consultant.

With those pieces in place, it was time to start tweaking the roster.

The Union hosted a two-day Pro Combine at YSC Sports, which was scheduled to conclude Wednesday. During the two-day process, Curtin and his staff diligently watched and evaluated prospective players. 

They don’t want to miss anything.

“It gives clarity to some of the local area kids but also to some from all over the country who have come in from colleges and also from USL Pro teams that had decent years,” Curtin told Philadelphiaunion.com during a break at the Combine. “You get to look at them up close and we’ll hopefully take a few of these guys into our first week of preseason so that’s the reward for them. "A lot of guys you were unsure of and on the fence with you get to see them up close. It’s just about improving our scouting infrastructure as a whole. It’s another tool, another step that we use to evaluate players.

Curtin paused and added:

“We don’t want to let anyone slip through the cracks so it’s one of those situations where we have another opportunity to upgrade what we had in place from last year and move forward. It’s been a very successful event, a great event, a lot of very good Division I players and also some NAIA and D-III players that have turned a lot of heads. You never know where that next player is going to come from.”

Has it been successful?

“Yes, absolutely,” Curtin said. “It’s just about improving each year and player identification is the most important thing. Without good players, you could have the best coach in the world and it doesn’t matter. Getting the right players is important. This is a step to doing that. I think in some cases, it eliminates some guys maybe that you had question marks on. Also, the more you see a guy up close, the more you talk to them, being around them … there’s talent here. There are going to be some guys here that will play in MLS, I’m sure. We just don’t want that to be in Seattle.”

The Re-Entry Phase II will be held Thursday (3 p.m.) and the SuperDraft is looming in January.

The roster could change quite a bit between now and then.

“January will be the time when international signings will come,” Curtin said. “Right now, it’s a lot of little tweaks to the roster. As a head coach, for this being my first offseason, the amount of expansion drafts, re-entry drafts, it’s a lot. It’s a unique year in that regard. I’ve enjoyed the process. You really get dialed into the league which I had a very good knowledge of previously and even moreso now. You do your homework every day and maybe find the guys that other teams passed up on. Unfortunately, this year’s re-entry draft gets watered down because the two expansion teams took 20 of the top players. There’s still some guys we’re looking at. Maybe it’s a situation where we don’t select anyone in the re-entry draft but there are still ongoing discussions to make a move or two.”

Technical Director Chris Albright was also in attendance and echoed similar thoughts.

“These are guys and we’re pretty clear with them (at the Combine),” Albright said. “They’re going to battle to make their way onto a roster. I think they know that. Every roster spot is important and you’re trying to be strong across the board. We’re trying to find some guys who can contribute.”

Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at andy.jasner@yahoo.com

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