As the Legacy Center Sports Complex prepares for the second annual Midwest Pro Soccer Combine, this event is proud to boast a 2016 alumni group that saw 25 players sign professional contracts. Applicants come from all corners of the world with alumni including international talent as well as standouts coming from all areas of the US. What makes this event unique is the opportunity it gives players specific to the midwest region.
AFC Ann Arbor sent five players to the inaugural combine in 2016, and follows that up with 3 more attendees accepted for 2017. Two year AFC Ann Arbor midfielder (and 2017 team MVP) James Vaughan, forward Kaleb Jackson and midfielder Connor Mullen are set to participate in this year’s December showcase.
“It’s not everyday that players get the opportunity to showcase their abilities in front of pro scouts from the MLS and USL. So this is a big stage for our men to prove what they can do as they look to push on to the next level," said Eric Rudland.
James Vaughan finishes his senior campaign at Northwood University as an NCAA division 2 all region selection as well as a three time All-GLIAC First Team honoree. He leaves the Timberwolves program ranking second all time in assists (15). AFC Ann Arbor fans know him best for his spectacular set piece ability. When on the pitch for The Mighty Oak, there was no question who would step to the spot for free kicks and whether it was a service or shot on net, he was arguably the Great Lakes Region’s most dangerous player in those moments. Vaughan became a regular starter for AFC Ann Arbor in the 2017 campaign as he improved his game as a box to box midfielder. Rudland trusted this player with the task of defending some of the nations most talented players, and Vaughan stepped up to those challenges as a leader on the Great Lakes Division Championship team.
Connor Mullen came to Ann Arbor in the summer of 2017 as a defensive midfielder and offered Coach Eric Rudland a different dynamic to The Mighty Oak midfield as a ball winning, tackle making standout. Mullen enters the MPSC after finishing his senior season at Rockhurst University. He was depended on as a midfielder and defender in their NCAA Tournament run that took them all the way to the NCAA Division 2 final four. This All-Region player has an immediate presence at a firm 6 foot 1 complimented with a soft touch that’s comfortable playing in the middle of the pitch with other skilled players.
Kaleb Jackson also enters the combine after finishing his senior season at Rockhurst University. This versatile forward earned Division 2 All-American honors making his mark as one of America’s most dangerous forwards in college. Kaleb was perhaps AFC Ann Arbor’s most valuable newcomer in 2017 and once he earned his spot in The Mighty Oak lineup he never gave up his spot in the frontline. Jackson attracted the attention of Great Lakes Conference defenders each game and was an excellent finisher as well as passer of the ball.
In the three short years of the club’s existence, The Mighty Oak have seen one player drafted to the MLS and another sign a professional deal internationally. With the level of talent within the organization growing each year, there’s no doubt the #AFCAAFamily will see more players turn professional.
About the Midwest Pro Soccer Combine
The second annual Midwest Pro Soccer Combine will take place on Monday, December 18th & Tuesday, December 19th at the Legacy Center Sports Complex in Brighton, Michigan. The combine will accept the top professional prospects to play for two days in front of professional coaches, scouts and intermediaries from North America and abroad.