FRISCO, Texas -- The 2014 MLS Combine starts today and the SuperDraft is now less than a week away, so FCDallas.com caught up with assistant coach Marco Ferruzzi to get his thoughts on the combine, the draft and the value of the club's #5 pick. With a decade of scouting experience under his belt, Ferruzzi provided some insight heading into draft week.
FCDallas.com: We're heading into your 10th year scouting the college game as an assistant for FC Dallas so you've certainly seen it all when it comes to the MLS Combine. What kinds of things are you looking for over this weekend?
Ferruzzi: We’re looking at performances of guys we’ve tracked for a good amount of time to deliver in the combine and basically confirm our beliefs and what we've been seeing over the college seasons. There are some guys that generate a lot of attention leading into the combine which isn’t always a bad thing. You look at how they deliver in the moment, not too different than College Cup, but in College Cup there are a fixed amount of players coming out where at the combine all the players are looking to go pro in a week.
It’s a good cauldron and then if you see that their performances warrant the attention given to them recently or if it’s a player you’ve been tracking a long time and it confirms those beliefs, then you feel really good about it. Stocks might rise or fall, but you have to keep it all in perspective.
FCDallas.com: What kind of value do you see in the combine, is it almost as important meeting the players off the field as watching them on the pitch?
Ferruzzi: It’s become a huge component and you see every club doing it now with interviews taking place every single day. Multiple interviews with players, and I think it’s a good way to get a read on a person, a player, getting the back story on them that you don’t always get from the bios or the previous coaching staff they worked with. You just get a chance to sit down and talk to them as a person and again it either reconfirms a belief or you get something better out of it that you didn’t have before. It’s become a huge part of things and I wouldn’t say there’s a science to it, it’s more of a feel. Also you see how comfortable they are coming [from a] first person [perspective], what their ambitions are and how focused and committed they are.
How they perform there is important. It’s not a write-off even though you might have been tracking someone for four years and you say this is a competent player, but he’s having a few bad days or even playing out of position. You can’t wipe away four years on a couple of games, but at the same time you can’t just not show up at all and think your reputation speaks for itself. That shows a little bit of the character too and how much they want it. That’s just one step, once they get picked they have to have a whole new set of goals once they come through the door.
It’s a huge demarcation isn’t it; because they got to a place where they’ve achieved their goal [of becoming] a pro, but now what? Are you ready to reset your goals and what you want to do next? The combine is that perfect crossroads where, as a player, "I’ve got a few days to show what I can do."
FCDallas.com: FCD has had so much success with defenders in the draft recently with guys like Loyd, John, Hedges and Zimmerman which leaves you with a pretty set defense. Are you going to be looking more at attacking positions this year?
Ferruzzi: I think you have to evaluate the best players first and foremost. It’s nice to evaluate best players in a position of need, but then all of a sudden a player like Walker Zimmerman falls in your lap and you can't sit there and overlook that. You sit there and see a potential player for years to come that’s going to do great things [even if you think] "OK, well we’re fine at center back. I don’t want to be looking at this, I need to be getting a right midfielder." You can’t close yourself off to those things. You have to be open-minded to some degree. If you see a player you really cant resist [you have to take him]. However, if we’re stock full in one position it makes it easier to go to that next player.
FCDallas.com: Do you feel like from your scouting there are attacking players that can come in and help this team at good value for the #5 pick?
Ferruzzi: I do. You mentioned before the pool of defensive players especially this year is a good crop, a really good crop. Attacking players is a little more specialized and a little bit thinner to be perfectly accurate, but there are a couple players out there if one or two of them are there and available you feel fine about making that pick. If they’re not there you move to plan B and plan B will be good.
FCDallas.com: Another possibility is trading the pick since a pick this high would have some major value to other teams. Have those conversations taken place and how open are you to trades?
Ferruzzi: I think we’ll definitely have those conversations down at the combine and the draft. Certainly depending on offers, you have to be open-minded and there hasn’t been a set rule that no we don’t have those conversations. Absolutely, we’ll consider every possibility. I’d say we are open-minded and go from there. Obviously, we do like our first round picks because we’ve done very well with them so it’s not something that we would give away cheaply.
FCDallas.com: What is the combine weekend like for coaches, is it really coming out of hibernation after the holidays and the start of the 2014 season?
Ferruzzi: That's a good way to put it, you're coming out of hibernation, although I would say some clubs have been pretty active in their hibernation mode. We typically see the most activity happening there because you’re face-to-face with people who are making decisions with personnel and everything becomes very real because you’re actually looking at the players that are going to be coming in and becoming part of your team.
I think everyone can put an image to what could happen next as opposed to previously. We’re still dealing off last year or dealing off the hopes of next year. Here it becomes very real and you can start talking about trading draft picks and start talking about players on other peoples' rosters. And everyone is there and has their particular needs. People have been doing work in the offseason obviously to bolster their rosters and everyone wants more so they might come to you and say this piece would really make it work for us and the combine is an opportunity for that to happen.