By almost all accounts the MLS is becoming a far more competitive league, and has grown substantially since its early years in the mid-nineties. The reason behind this goes deeper than importing all-world talents like a David Beckham or Thiery Henry. The main cause of this growth is due to the increasing talent pool of young soccer players domestically. With the MLS SuperDraft coming up MLS clubs don’t need to ask “IS there the next superstar out of these players,” but rather “WHO is the next superstar in this group.”
We’ve known for a while now that the US does have world class talents such as Landon Donovan or Clint Dempsey. That means developing innovative ways to identify stand out young players is a high priority to the MLS clubs. Here at EXACT, we are helping the New York Red Bulls in gathering advanced information to assist them in the decision process.
Last year Tim Ream for the Red Bulls was drafted in the second round (18th overall), but ended a finalist for MLS Rookie of the Year. Not only did he start all 30 regular season games at center back, but he was also one of only a handful of players who recorded all 2,700 minutes of the season. Ream was an integral part of a defense that let in only 29 goals against (best in the MLS).
Former MLS great and current soccer analyst Alexi Lalas was quoted complimenting Ream saying “[Tim Ream] has the technical ability and the undoubted potential to progress. [Ream] can follow others who are doing well in the UK.” Lalas wasn’t the only one who noticed Ream’s efforts. Coach Bob Bradley of the US Men’s International Team called up Ream and awarded him the start against South Africa in a November friendly, and then again to the January training camp.
However, if you were the New York Red Bulls you knew he was capable of this prior to Lalas’s accolades or Bradley’s invitation. Prior to the MLS Superdraft, Ream along with others, participated in the EXACT Sports CAPI. The CAPI is one of the ways EXACT Sports helps identify psychological attributes of a player to help compliment the physical skillset. The diagnostic test showed that Ream had near perfect scores in Persistence to Goals, Confidence, and Resistance to Stress. This meant prior to Ream even stepping on the field the Red Bulls knew he could be thrown right into the fire and flourish.
EXACT along with the New York Red Bulls are leading the way in discovering new ways to look deeper than what appears on a stat sheet or scouting report. We can’t promise that every high scorer on our diagnostic testing will be the next Landon Donovan, but there is solid evidence to suggest that we have the ability to identify who has the personality & psychological aptitude to make it big in the MLS. Just ask the Red Bulls.
EXACT Sports is currently working with the Red Bulls on the upcoming 2011 draft.