Blais showcases talents at MLS Combine

By Rames Ali CORRESPONDENT
On January 11, 2012

After taking two different teams from two different conferences to the NCAA'sElite Eight, USF goalkeeperChrisBlaisattended the Major League Soccer (MLS) Player Combine in Fort Lauderdale this week, in anattempt to move to thehighest professional level of soccer in America.

Following a season in which he gave up only18 goals, with 69 savesand an average of0.81 goals per game,Blais- along with fellow seniorAubrey Perry and junior Dom Dwyer - was invited to Fort Lauderdale to showcase histalents in front of pro scouts.

"The experience wasfantastic,"Blaissaid. "(Being) surrounded by all these great college players, and a fewinternational guys too, and it was so great to play in front of all 19 teams of the MLS. I think me, Dom and (Perry) together make the most ever invited for (USF), which isreally great, especially atsomething so selective."

It's no coincidence thatboth the goalkeeper and astalwart defender from a defense as strong as USF's were invited.

"This season was reallygreat for me,"Blaissaid. "I wouldn't be where I am right now, getting a chance to move on to the next level, if it wasn't for South Florida and my team, especially thebackline, which was fantastic. And that's proven by (Perry) getting invited to the combine as well."

The Bulls' three superstars got another opportunity to bond with their experienceat the combine.

"(Perry) and I have spent a lot of time together this last month … because we went to Vegas together for the SeattleSounders Combine,"Blaissaid. "It was nice to havepeople that you knowbeforehand, because it can get intimidating with all those great players."

Nicholas Murray, communications coordinator for theUSL, which operates thethird-tier professional soccerleagueUSLPRO, as well as amateur leagues, attended the combine and expectsBlaisto be the first goalkeeperselected, though he saidBlaismay have to wait until thelater rounds because of the exceptional offensive talentin this year's draft class.

"I thought Chris had a very positive weekend," he said. "Certainly the buzz around him from the people I spoke with was very positive. … He's almost certain to be selected in the Supplemental Draft next Monday. I would definitely expect to see him in an MLS training camp in February."

Murray noted the SeattleSounders as a possibledestination forBlaisbecause of the retirement of last year's starter, Kasey Keller. Seattle is alsoBlais'hometown.

The MLSSuperDraftwill be held Thursday in KansasCity and will be televised onESPN2, beginning at noon. The two-round, 38-pickdraft will be followed by the three-round SupplementalDraft, to be held via teleconference next week.

As for his plans for draft day,Blaisis looking to keep it simple.

"Unfortunately, my whole family is in Seattle. I doubt they can make it down," he said. "There was some talk about going to Kansas City, but it's just so much travel. I'm meeting with my coachestomorrow, and I think I'llend up watching it with them and (Perry)."

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