Freshly minted Cal alumni Shinya Kadono and Sam Junqua participated in the 2019 adidas MLS Player Combine this week, an opportunity to showcase their talent in scrimmages and performance tests before all 24 Major League Soccer clubs ahead of the MLS SuperDraft.
Ahead of the combine, Kadono was named one of the top 50 prospects in this year’s draft by TopDrawerSoccer.
If drafted, Kadono and Junqua would join the seven former California Golden Bears who competed in the MLS last season.
“Sam and Shinya had stellar careers at Cal, particularly their senior seasons,” California Head Coach Kevin Grimes said in a prepared statement. “We are all excited for them to start their next chapter in professional soccer.”
Forward Kadono was one of the initial 60 collegiate athletes across the U.S. and Canada invited to the combine on Dec. 13, 2018. Junqua, a defender, received his invitation last week on Jan. 2.
2019 is the third straight year Cal has sent an athlete to the MLS Player Combine.
In his senior year, Kadono led the Pacific 12 conference with 12 goals and was named to the United States Soccer Coaches NCAA Division I Men’s All-Far West Region Second Team. The forward led the conference in goals per game (0.67) and shots per game (3.22) in the most recent season.
Junqua was a reliable fixture this last season, notably as California’s corner kick specialist. The defender led the team in minutes played with 1,666 and earned an honorable all-conference team selection. He ended the season with nine shots and one assist.
Kadono, Junqua and the other participating athletes competed in four scrimmage matches as a part of the MLS Player Combine. Kadono belonged to “Team X,” while Junqua joined “Team Predator.”
The 2019 MLS SuperDraft, held in McCormick Place in Chicago, begins Friday, Jan. 11 at 10 a.m. PT.
Unlike professional soccer leagues abroad, the MLS employs a four-round draft after a one-week player combine, similar to the NBA and NFL. Like its American counterparts, last season’s last-place team picks first. This year, however, expansion club FC Cincinnati will have the first overall pick as the league’s latest addition.
Picks are sometimes traded, often as a part of larger deals for players or as allocation money to sign new players outside of the draft or toward a club’s salary cap.
Interestingly this year, the Philadelphia Union traded all five of their draft picks to FC Cincinnati for $150,000 in general allocation money, deciding to bet on youths in the MLS club academy system instead.
The first two rounds of the SuperDraft will be streamed online at mlssoccer.com and the official MLS mobile app. Rounds three and four will be held by a conference call at a later date.