The NCAA men's soccer season kicks off in earnest tonight with two games on local TV even. Powerhouses UCLA and New Mexico face off on Fox Soccer at 7PM while the University of Washington and Gonzaga will be on the Pac12 Network at 5PM as the first live sporting event shown. There's a proliferation of college soccer on TV now as more of the major conferences get their own networks. Having more games doesn't directly help Assistant Coach and Scout Kurt Schmid, but it does help the rest of the team.
"It helps a lot the games are getting more and more publicity. It's still always better to see them live. It helps you focus more, see more off the ball," Schmid told Sounder at Heart at practice yesterday. "You see a lot of movement when you watch a college game. There's the guys everyone knows about but you are also watching for guys that you don't know about. Still it helps that they are on TV. It helps the rest of the staff see them as well so it helps our scouting efforts in general."
Schmid has overlapping duties. He does advance scouting, is an assistant coach and scouts the college ranks (as does Chris Henderson). Even within the college ranks there are a few sets of players that he looks at - seniors for this draft, underclassmen for future drafts, possible Generation Adidas players and Seattle's Academy Alumni. That Academy Alumni group is a set of players that are getting national recognition (5 names in a 30 to watch list, plus Aaron Kovar).
"A lot of these kids, it's the first time they've played with quality playeres that are older than they are. It's good to see how they adjust to that." Schmid says. "The game is more physical. The other day I saw UW play against Simon Fraser and getting to see Gallagher and Lange and those guys in that kind of game you kind of see that they've got some adjustments to do."
Stll, Schmid makes it clear that just because a player is Homegrown Player eligible it doesn't mean that they are better or get more attention. "I think as long as I keep my eyes open and look for players that can play in MLS. If those kids pop-up on that radar than they are guys we should think about signing."
That's the key. Are they ready to be an MLS player? If they are the Sounders will make efforts to sign them. If they are not the team will wait. Schmid and the staff do know the HGP eligible players better, between their time in the Academy, the Sounders U23s and tracking them through the college season the players will get scouting eyeballs on them.
Schmid offered this hypothetical. "If I'm watching Wake Forrest against UNC and Sean Okoli is having a great game and an objective scout thinks we should sign him than we should sign him." It's a different philosophy than the one that some teams use.
But with the U23s, the Vegas Combine that the Sounders run, the ability to see local players at practices, the team is aware of the talents of their possible future HGPs. The college prospect lists are dominated by players with a couple years in school already. As the Sounders have a young Academy their names are shallow on the Top 100 upper classmen list.
On the college soccer fields throughout America the future of MLS is taking the field and the Seattle Sounders will have eyes on those men.