Being invited to the Major League Soccer Player Combine has always been a goal for Long Island Rough Riders goalkeeper Dylan Castanheira.
The Columbia University senior has done all he can to be in this position so he can showcase his talents and abilities on and off the field to MLS coaches and scouts in the hopes of getting drafted.
Castanheira will have that opportunity as one of 60 players from colleges and universities in the United States and Canada invited to the 2019 MLS Player Combine held from January 3-9, 2019, at Orlando City Stadium in Orlando.
“At the end of the day, I know that I’ve done everything I can to prepare myself for this opportunity so I am feeling confident going into it,” Castanheira said. “I have always played my best when I am focused and having fun. My plan for success is to enjoy every moment of being at the Combine because I know if I am having fun while I am playing, I will perform better.”
He is the third Rough Riders player to attend the MLS Player Combine in the past two seasons, joining forward Arthur Bosua and defender Andre Morrison who were at the 2018 MLS Player Combine. Morrison was then selected in the third round (No. 69 overall) by Toronto FC in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft.
Castanheira solidified his place in the Combine following a stellar career at Columbia. The 2018 Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year and All-Ivy League first team selection broke the Ivy League record for career goals against average (0.513) while earning all-league honors three years.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder was also instrumental in Long Island’s success the past two seasons, having a 0.91 GAA during the regular season as the Rough Riders (10-2-5) advanced to the 2017 PDL Eastern Conference Final. He made 42 saves and had a 1.09 GAA in 12 matches for Long Island (10-5-1) this past summer.
“It goes to show that the Rough Riders are an organization with great scouting ability who pride themselves on getting the best team together each season,” Castanheira said. “I think a lot of the success I have had in the past couple of years has been largely due to me spending my summers with the Rough Riders and getting top quality coaching from the staff. With so many good players on the team, the practices are high-level and there is a very competitive atmosphere that will push any player to be the best he or she can be.”
Castanheira, who has trained with various MLS teams in recent years, hopes he can follow in the footsteps of many Rough Riders who were chosen in the MLS SuperDraft to continue their careers at the professional level. But first, he has an opportunity to showcase his skills at the Combine.
The 2019 MLS SuperDraft is Jan. 11 in Chicago. Expansion side FC Cincinnati holds the No. 1 overall selection.
“I think it would be wise for any college player to consider playing for the Long Island Rough Riders if the opportunity presented itself,” Castanheira said. “It is a great club run by even better people, and is a good stepping stone for players seeking to play at a professional level.”
BY: Michael LoRé