The Houston Dynamo are not new to the Caribbean.
Over recent years, manager Dominic Kinnear has targeted the region, especially at the Caribbean Cup, and come away with some key signings. Some of the names to emerge from those scouting missions include current Dynamo starter Jermaine Taylor and former contributors like Jamaicans Je-Vaughn Watson and Lovel Palmer.
And there could be more names to follow if the first-ever MLS Caribbean Combine provides the desired results.
Beginning Thursday, a total of 24 of the Caribbean region's best soccer players will showcase their talents for league scouts with the hope of earning a spot in the annual adidas MLS Player Combine a few days later in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“I think it’s good because you can’t be everywhere at once” Kinnear told MLSsoccer.com. “Sometimes you only see one game on a scouting trip,. I think to gather a group of players to give you a chance to see the best players that makes everything so much easier.”
Kinnear appreciates the concept because he has embarked on plenty of scouting trips with the goal of watching individual players up close and it doesn't always go as planned.
“You’ll be down there for a couple of days so you’re not just going in and watching a Saturday [game] or Sunday and then flying out,” Kinnear recounted. “And then sometimes the guy you’re going to watch doesn’t even play.”
That inconvenience won't exist in Antigua: The four-day MLS Caribbean Combine is guaranteed to give the 24 invited players the chance to impress in game action. And Kinnear is convinced that the showcase will not only help the league's talent pool, but it will likely also spawn imitators.
“To have this here, I think MLS is doing some great things,” Kinnear said. “I would not be surprised to see other leagues around the world following suit.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.