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Scouting Reading United’s MLS Combine invitees

Photo: Courtesy of Glenn Riegel/Reading United

Major League Soccer kickoffs it’s annual pre-draft scouting combine in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on Friday January 11 and Reading United A.C. will again be well represented. Ten former Reading players will make the trip to the Sunshine State to showcase their skills for the technical staffs of each of the 19 MLS clubs. Hermann Trophy finalists Jose Gomez and Ryan Finley are joined by three other members of Reading’s 2012 team.

Reading’s players will look to follow in the footsteps of fellow alums Andrew Wenger, Matt Hedges, Zarek Valentin, Corey Hertzog, and C.J. Sapong, all of whom were selected in the first round of the MLS Draft.

Ahead of the draft, we provide you with a little background for each of the players and try to project where they might be selected, drawing upon the assessments of Brendan Burke, head coach at Reading United and assistant coach for Philadelphia Union.

Will Bates – Forward

Bates, a senior forward from the University of Virginia, featured on Reading United’s 2011 squad. Despite making just six appearances for Reading in 2011, Bates’ six goals led the team. The Chester, Virginia native is a big, physical presence who earned All-ACC Honors in 2011 and 2012. Following a knee injury that ended his 2011 season, Bates bounced back to score 12 goals for the Cavaliers to finish his college career with 46 tallies. MLS clubs looking for a traditional target forward who is ready to play day one would do well selecting Will Bates.

Fox Soccer columnist Ives Galarcep ranks Bates 19th on his latest draft big board. Look for Will to be selected somewhere in the late first round or very early in the second round.

Head Coach Brendan Burke’s Assessment:

“Will Bates is a bruising center forward who holds the ball up very well and hits his spots in the box very hard and consistently. Will showed all of this during his time at Reading, and he would have likely been a Generation Adidas player last year had he not injured himself toward the end of the year.”

Deshorn Brown – Forward

Several very talented forwards have pulled on a Reading United jersey over the past few summers. It says a great deal about Deshorn Brown that he posted United’s second best goal scoring season in 2012. Brown followed up his 13-goal PDL haul by victimizing Conference USA defenses for another 13 goals while leading the University of Central Florida’s attack. Brown joins fellow United alums Zarek Valentin, Corey Hertzog and Andrew Wenger as the team’s fourth member of Generation Adidas.

Brown has the tools to be a lethal forward for an MLS club. Galarcep ranks the UCF forward as the 6th best player available in the draft and described the UCF forward as “arguably the fastest player in the draft, Brown is a burner who should cement his status as a top prospect at the Combine.” Brown will be selected in the top ten of the draft and could be taken as soon as the third pick.

Head Coach Brendan Burke’s Assessment:

“Deshorn had 13 goals in 13 games for us.  His size, pace, and effectiveness around the box will make him someone who can immediately translate to the MLS level.” 

Ian Christianson – Midfielder

Christianson, a senior midfielder from Georgetown University, was part of Reading’s 2012 roster. He played in nine matches for United this season, contributing two goals and an assist. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa native has earned four NSCAA & College Soccer News All-American honors and was named All Big East Conference each of the past three seasons. The Hoyas midfielder is a tireless worker and has all the tools to be a successful MLS player. A former member of the Chicago Fire’s developmental academy, Christianson will be available for selection in the 2013 draft after MLS denied the Fire’s homegrown claim.

Ives Galarcep rates Christianson as the 21st best player available in the draft, so look for him to go off the board late in round one or  in first few selections in round two.

Head Coach Brendan Burke’s Assessment:

“Ian Christianson is coming off a legendary year with Georgetown in which they made a run to the national final, and it is no surprise to us that he played almost every minute of their season in the midfield.  He can play a number of positions in the midfield and that makes him a lot more valuable to teams at the MLS level.  Anyone that has spent time around Ian understands that his level of determination and overall technical ability quickly comes to rely on him.”

Greg Cochrane – Defender

Cochrane, a left back from the University of Louisville, was a key member of United’s 2012 defensive unit, which surrendered the second fewest goals in the Premier Development League’s Eastern Conference. Cochrane was one of several United players from the local area, calling Holland, Pennsylvania home. At Louisville, Cochrane moved from the back line to the left side of the Cardinals midfield. His six goals this season was good for second on a talented Louisville squad and helped to earn him All Big East Third Team honors.

Cochrane’s versatility will make him a hot commodity at the SuperDraft, though he is most likely going to slot in at left back for most MLS teams. Galarcep rates Cochrane as the 24th best player in the draft and could go early in the second round. The Philadelphia Union hold the fifth pick in the second round and may look to the Bucks County native to fill their need at left back.

Head Coach Brendan Burke’s Assessment:

“Greg Cochrane is one of the top two or three left backs in this draft.  He has pace, a great engine, and serves a very good ball with his left foot.  I, for one, will be very surprised if he is not gone in the first or second round of the draft.”

Ryan Finley – Forward

Finley, a forward at the University of Notre Dame, played eight matches for Reading United in 2012. The Hermann Trophy finalist scored twice for United before heading back to Notre Dame. The Lumberton, New Jersey native was named Big East Offensive Player of the Year, scoring 21 times for the Irish. Finley was also named ACC Offensive Player of the Year in 2010 while playing for Duke University. In the 2012 Big East Championship Game at PPL Park, Finley scored the game-winning goal deep in the second overtime period to earn the Irish the win.

Finley is a pure goal scorer who relies on his strength and quickness to get behind the opposition’s defense. Galarcep has Finley rated as the 10th best player available in the draft. Ryan should join Andrew Wenger, Corey Hertzog and C.J. Sapong as former United forwards selected in the first round of the SuperDraft.

Head Coach Brendan Burke’s Assessment:

“Ryan Finley is as true forward in terms of his timing, movement and instincts that the college game has seen in the last four years, and he has proved that in one standout year with Duke and in another phenomenal year at Notre Dame.”

Jose Gomez – Midfielder

Reading United’s second Hermann Trophy finalist raked in many accolades over the course of the 2012 college soccer season. Jose’s ability to control a match from his place as Creighton’s attacking midfielder earned him All-American and Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year honors and the universal praise of the college soccer press. Gomez tallied six goals and nine assists for the Blue Jays en route to the College Cup Final Four.

Gomez played in two matches for Reading United in 2012. Galarcep rates him as the 32nd best prospect available in the draft. Questions regarding the Creighton midfielder’s ability to cope with the physicality of MLS may hurt his stock on draft day. Jose’s style of play may better suit the more technical Liga MX, where he’s been on trial with Mexican Apertura champions Club Tijuana. Watch for Gomez to be selected in the second round of the SuperDraft.

Head Coach Brendan Burke’s Assessment:

“Jose Gomez showed his class with us last summer in the short time that he was here.  He reads the game well, is technically gifted, and in the right team with the right pieces around him could be a special player for someone in the league.”

Scott Goodwin – Goalkeeper

Scott was part of the 2010 Reading United squad that advanced to the PDL national semifinals. Goodwin backed up starting keeper Jeremy Vuolo and saw significant time with Reading’s Super 20 team. At the University of North Carolina,  Goodwin won the 2011 NCAA College Cup alongside fellow Reading alums Matt Hedges and Billy Schuler. In 2012, Scott registered one of the best goalkeeper season’s in NCAA history, allowing just seven goals in 23 matches on the way to recording 17 clean sheets. In addition to honors on the field, Scott was named the Academic All American of the Year.

Scott is one of seven goalkeepers that have been invited to the MLS Player Combine. He is a vocal leader and commands his area very well. An MLS club will do well selecting Goodwin, though the former United keeper will likely need to wait until the Supplemental Draft to hear his name called.

Head Coach Brendan Burke’s Assessment:

“Scott Goodwin is an excellent shot stopper and more importantly an on and off the field presence and leader within a team who has a really good shot at making an MLS roster this spring.”

Eric Schoenle – Defender

Eric will go to the MLS Player Combine looking to become the fifth member of  Reading United’s 2010 team to be selected in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft. Schoenle was a key member of United’s 2010 defense, partnering with 2011 first round pick Matt Hedges. The center back from Yardley, Pennsylvania led the Mountaineers in goals in 2012 with six tallies. The two time All-American defender is excellent in the air and distributes the ball well out of the back.

Ives Galarcep lists Schoenle as the 15th best draft prospect, though he says that Schoenle will need to add some bulk to his 6’2″ 150 lb. frame in order to withstand the physicality of MLS. With persistent rumors of Union captain Carlos Valdes’ departure, the Union may look to make a move for WVU defender in order to add depth to their back line. Schoenle should hear his name called later in the first round of the SuperDraft.

Head Coach Brendan Burke’s Assessment:

“Eric Schoenle is one of, if not the most, technically sound center back in the draft.  His positioning is excellent, and he is very good in the air.  I think Eric could end up being a very reliable player in the league over the long term.”

Paul Wyatt – Forward/Midfielder

Paul joined Reading United for the 2012 PDL season based on the recommendation of United alum and 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year C.J. Sapong. Wyatt went on to score several very big goals for Reading in 2012, including a thunderous strike in a friendly versus the Philadelphia Union. The senior from James Madison University scored nine goals for the Dukes in 2012 and earned All-Colonial Athletic Association honors for a fourth consecutive season. Wyatt, a native of Modbury, England, finished his JMU career with 28 goals. The Englishman is a high motor guy and will harass defenses for the entire match. MLS coaches will appreciate Wyatt’s work rate and ability to play in the midfield or at forward.

Galarcep rates Wyatt as the 38th best player available in the SuperDraft, though his status as an international may hurt his draft stock. Look for Paul to be selected late in round two of the SuperDraft or in the first round of the Supplemental Draft.

Head Coach Brendan Burke’s Assessment:

“Paul Wyatt’s work rate will make him a good option for a number of different MLS teams this year.  He can play in a few different positions, and his tactical awareness and physical presence will put him in a good position to make the jump to MLS.”



  1. LB would be the perfect fit for us. We could let Gabe play there as long as necessary while giving our draft pick ample time to impress.
    The moment the rookie looks capable of starting, we let him and get Gabe in midfield.

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