Michigan Midfielder Follows MLS Dream at National Combine

As the bus approached closer and closer to the field on Jan. 16, Tyler Arnone tried to overcome his nerves to resist throwing up. But as he stepped off the bus and onto the warm-weathered pitch, he felt comfortable as he began to play soccer. He was ready to show off his skills in order to become a professional American athlete–a dream he worked towards for almost all of his life.

“As a youth soccer player in this country, I always dreamt of one day being selected in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft,” said Arnone. “With this I always had a clear understanding that the Major League Soccer Combine plays a big part in the process of taking the next step into professional soccer.”

Arnone started training in soccer at age five in Hicksville, N.Y., and always knew he wanted to play professionally. As an American soccer player, there is one path to becoming a professional. Now at age 23, Arnone hopes to get a spot on a pro-team in the Major League Soccer Organization.

Making it to the MLS starts with a showcase of talents at the MLS Combine hosted in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. It is a five-day annual performance test of physical and mental endurance in front of MLS managers, coaches and scouts. The pressure is immense, as it determines where –and if– each player will be drafted. If a team shows interest in a player, the player must go through an interview process, and may eventually be drafted in series of four rounds to one of 20 MLS teams.

Arnone played for the University of Michigan varsity soccer team for four years as a two-year captain. He was named the 2013 Big Ten Midfielder of the year, and he received many other prestigious collegiate soccer awards. “All of the years leading up to the combine I have made sacrifices. I was known as the first player at training and the last one to leave,” said Arnone. “I tried to learn about the game as much as I could as fast as I could.”

His commitment paid off when a committee of MLS members and NCAA Division 1 coaches selected Arnone as one of the 55 NCAA Division I college seniors to attend the combine. But being selected is only the first step in the long and grueling process to becoming apart of an MLS team.

In the months leading up to the combine, Arnone spent almost every minute of every day training. “I was training on my own with the strength and conditioning coaches, doing fitness on the treadmill or track workouts, and trained one on one with the assistant coach until the semester ended,” Arnone said. Along with an intense workout routine, Arnone stuck to a strict dietary plan, which included no beverages other than water and pre/post sport drinks. He had no time to party, relax or participate in the usually college student activities. Arnone’s top priority was the MLS combine, and he was willing to put in more than the necessary effort to make his dream a reality.

“My experience at the combine was one of the best soccer experiences of my life,” said Arnone. “With that said, it was also one of the most intense five days of my life.”

When competing against some of the top soccer players in the U.S. who are all trying to make it professionally, there isn’t much room for making mistakes.

In the end his hard worked payed off, and Arnone had an exceptional performance according to the official site of the organization, MLSsoccer.com, who rated him in the top five midfielders at the combine. “I trusted my preparation and training. I believed in myself and my ability to compete at that level…I was really happy with my overall performance at the combine,” Arnone said. “Now I can only sit back and wait till Jan. 22 to see where I get drafted.”