This season’s first Atlanta Silverbacks pro combine is just days away, meaning aspiring professional players have a few days to tune up before getting a look from the Silverbacks coaching staff. Two of the key evaluators will be Silverbacks Director of Soccer Rodrigo Rios (RR) and Head Coach Alex Pineda Chacón (APC), both of whom sat down with atlantasilverbacks.com to discuss the combine.
For those who are unfamiliar with the format of a professional soccer combine, what types of drills will the coaches be putting the players through?
APC: We may do things a little bit differently than we did last year, but overall it will be pretty standard. We’ll begin by putting each player through a series of basic tests. We want to be able to quickly see what each player has in terms of fitness, speed, and touch. We’ll do some fitness stuff and a few passing drills, just to make sure everyone can show us the basic skills needed to play at a high level. After getting to know each guy and what he can do, we’ll jump right into scrimmages. This will be the area where we see what a player can do, and from there, we can make our evaluations.
Outside of having the technical skills needed to catch the eye of a professional coaching staff, what else can a player do in a combine to stand out?
RR: I think there are different abilities or skills that can open coaches’ eyes and make them think highly of a player. For me, one of the most important things is how well a player understands the game. If you know what to do in certain situations and where to be on the field at all times, then you’re already off to a great start. If a player understands the game well, then through coaching, you can improve everything else. Physically, obviously there are certain things that a player can to do stand out, like being really fast or having extra strong technique. To me, all these things I just said are going to put you in a better position to get noticed by the coaches.
A few players earned contract offers based on their performances in last year’s combine. What does that tell players who are looking to fulfill their dreams of going pro?
RR: The idea is that really anyone can come in and make their mark — if they perform well, of course. In the United States, it’s unlike anywhere else in the world with soccer clubs. We don’t have youth clubs with kids we have been developing for years, like European or South American clubs do. We have combines, and other ways, to get players, so this is a huge opportunity for anyone who comes. It doesn’t matter where you’re from. If you think you’re better than the rest and you’re ready to play professionally, let’s see it.
If you could give one piece of advice to players who participate in the upcoming combines, what would you tell them?
APC: Come prepared. This is a professional combine with professional standards. You can’t just go running one day and think it’s going to work out. You have to come fit, and you have to come ready to compete. Other than that, you just have to be ready to seize the moment and show us what you can do. Sometimes you only get one shot to show your talent, so I would say just give 100 percent and see what happens.
The first offseason combine will take place from December 2-4 at Atlanta Silverbacks Park. All participants must register online by completing the application and participation waiver. To register or for more information, click here.