Jay Heaps and Mike Burns

Player interviews critical part of Combine process

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The five-day MLS Player Combine – currently ongoing in Lauderhill, Fla. – offers one final stage for hopeful draftees to impress ahead of Thursday afternoon’s SuperDraft.

But while the biggest impressions will undoubtedly be made on the field during a trio of games in South Florida, another aspect of the process – one which involves sitting and talking as opposed to running and kicking – continues to hold significant weight come draft day.

Throughout the two “off days” at the Combine when games aren’t on the schedule, technical staffs arrange brief interviews with many of the players on their club’s radar. The interactions are typically brief – anywhere between five and 15 minutes – but often provide an important glimpse into a player’s psyche as he prepares to make the leap to the professional game.

“Obviously you can see them play – you can see them play in the college environment and you can see them play in the Combine environment – but we think there’s also a great benefit in having our coaching staff sit down with these players,” said New England Revolution General Manager Michael Burns. “Although it may be [brief], you do get a feel for their personality, their makeup and their character.”

Such traits can be used to evaluate not only how a player will adapt at a professional level, but also how they’ll fit into a club’s particular locker room structure. In some instances, Burns said, a player’s value to a club can actually be increased or decreased through the interview process.

According to Burns, the Revs had already interviewed several players as of Monday morning, while he estimated New England’s technical staff would sit down with approximately 20-30 players before the conclusion of the Combine. During those interviews, Burns and the rest of the club’s staff will consider everything from body language to depth of response.

“We’re certainly not psychologists, but it’s having a conversation with a person and you get a feel and a vibe for that person,” said Burns. “You don’t want to put a heat lamp over them, so to speak, but you want to get to know them a little bit and see what their makeup and character is like.”

Come draft day on Thursday – when the Revs are slated to pick fourth overall and an additional three times in the second round – they plan to know exactly what kind of players they’re selecting.