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BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Kory Kindle said he never thought he'd be on the radar of a professional soccer league when he entered Cal State Bakersfield four years ago.
"I came in to play soccer and play a sport in college," said the senior, who joined the Roadrunners out of Ventura High.
When: 9 a.m. today
Total selections: 38
Network: ESPN3; live satellite streaming on ESPNFC, MLSsoccer.com and YouTube
He said that changed after his first two seasons at CSUB when he agreed to move from forward to defender.
"My coach said I could play pro if I put my time into it, so I trained pretty hard," Kindle said.
That work should pay off today, when he is expected to be selected in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft, which begins at 9 a.m.
Kindle was returning to Bakersfield on Wednesday after spending five days in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., at the MLS Player Combine.
Kindle was among 54 Division I players from across the country to receive an invitation to the combine. Players were selected by a committee representing each Division I conference and MLS representatives. The combine was only open to players who have completed their college eligibility.
Kindle had 13 goals in his CSUB career (six last season) and five assists. He was a first-team All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation pick his senior year and a second-team pick as a junior. He's listed at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds.
Kindle said he was heading toward a park in Ventura with the younger brother of a close friend for a workout when an MLS representative called him in early December and told him of the combine invitation.
Kindle said he got a preview of what to expect at the combine from Mike Enfield, another Ventura High graduate who went through the combine and played briefly in the MLS.
"He said it would not hurt my stock if I did not play well," Kindle said. "He said that teams that want you have seen you play in college."
Kindle said he had interviews with Jay Heaps, the head coach of the New England Revolution; Ben Olsen, manager of D.C. United; and Jake DeClute, an assistant coach and scouting coordinator for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
"Having them wanting to interview me was interesting," Kindle said.
The combine itself was a little intimidating at first, Kindle said.
"There are players here you see on TV, players you read about," he said. "It's a little intimidating when you come from a small school. But I thought I played well. There are players here who will be pro players and excel at this level. ...
"It was definitely fun -- really nerve-racking the first day. But you work through that."
Kindle said he went up against some top-notch forwards. But he's used to that. He lined up extensively in CSUB's practices against teammate Gyasi Zardes, one of the top strikers in the nation who has already signed a Homegrown contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy of the MLS.
CSUB midfielder Jesus "Chuy" Sanchez is unlikely to be drafted, but could sign a free-agent deal.
"My teammates and my coaches prepared me for this," Kindle said. "I was playing against Gyasi every day. I knew he was the best forward in the nation.
"Everyone here (at the combine) was so skilled and so fast. Gyasi was at a whole other level. If he would have been here, Gyasi would have been a standout."
Kindle said he's very confident he'll be selected today. Some mock drafts have had him selected in the first round.
"I'm pretty sure I'll get picked," he said. "I always thought I had a slight chance, but the way I played and the way my agent was talking to me, there's a pretty good chance I'll get picked."
Kindle's game took a leap forward his junior year, CSUB coach Simon Tobin said.
"That year he really showed he had the potential to go on," Tobin said. "He still has room for tremendous growth in the game. ...
"When Kory came here, he was probably unsure how he'd do at a four-year school. He's come on in leaps and bounds."
Tobin said Vancouver is the MLS team he's spoken with that has shown the most interest in Kindle. But Kindle's performance at the combine and other scouting reports could lead to Kindle's selection by any team.
"We had MLS scouts at half our games last year," Tobin said.
Kindle said he has some anxiety about today.
"I was on the beach (Tuesday) when it hit me: That maybe I'll be leaving Bakersfield for the East Coast for 'X' number of years.
"But just getting back to Bakersfield will be nice. My mom is coming down from Sacramento for the draft. It's pretty anxious and stressful because of the uncertainty of where you'll wind up."