Ikoba, Oshoniyi represent men’s soccer at 2019 MLS Combine

by Jake Johnson | 1/14/19 2:00am

Kids dream big. They want to be actors on a Hollywood stage, they want to walk on the moon or they want to play pro sports. Many times these big dreams are out of reach, but for one player from the dominant Dartmouth men’s soccer team, that classic dream is a step away from becoming a reality.

The last step before getting drafted into Major League Soccer is getting evaluated at the combine. The best players from all around the country, with some international prospects sprinkled in, are gathered in Orlando, Florida to strut their stuff in front of scouts from every single franchise in the MLS. One of those top prospects hails from Bettendorf, Iowa, but he also calls Hanover home. Eduvie Ikoba ’19 is Dartmouth’s lone player to get the call to attend the combine.

It is no surprise that Dartmouth, the back-to-back-to-back-to-back Ivy League champ from 2014-2017 and then third place finisher in 2018, has such a highly touted prospect as Ikoba. Ikoba’s resume speaks for itself. In the last two seasons, he has led the Big Green in goals scored, tallying eight in his junior season and five in his senior season. Despite only recording points in the last three games of the season due to an injury, Ikoba’s five goals and one assist this season were enough to earn him the title of leading point-scorer for Dartmouth. Last season, Ikoba found himself among the top of the Ivy League, as he was named to the First Team All-Ivy. Last year he also took home the National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-Region Second Team. Adding “MLS Combine attendee” should fit quite nicely with his long list of accomplishments.

His coach, Bo Oshoniyi, reflected on the meaning of Ikoba’s invitation to the combine.

“I think it says a lot,” Oshoniyi said. “I really do. I think, one, to have a player like Eduvie being selected to the combine, I think it just shows his body of work over the past four years here.”

Ikoba’s story could be far from complete. SBI Soccer lists Ikoba as the 49th best prospect at the combine. Seeing as 48 players have already been drafted in first two rounds, the next set of rounds (held on Jan. 14th) should be pretty exciting for the Dartmouth striker.

Henry Baldwin ’20, a defender on the Big Green soccer team, described Ikoba as a special player.

“He’s a presence in the locker room; he’s a great guy.” Baldwin said. “He’s always there for you when you need it.”

Baldwin also noted how important Ikoba’s return to the team proved to be after recovering from his injury.

“Knowing that he was coming back — it definitely gave our team a boost in the last half of the season,” Baldwin said.

The MLS combine is a big event for the Big Green. Ikoba may be the only Dartmouth player, but he is not the only person at the combine repping the Lone Pine. Oshoniyi, who just completed his first year as Dartmouth’s head coach, is also in Orlando for the combine this year.

Most fans are unaware that the super-talented players are not the only ones to receive invites to the MLS combine — coaches are selected, too. Oshoniyi is in his third consecutive MLS combine, and his fourth in the last five seasons.

The process to get a coach to the combine is more difficult than one might expect. For players, performing at an elite level and producing results is the best way to print your ticket to the combine, but the path for coaches is different.

“[Head coaches] actually get votes from the MLS coaches, and the MLS coaches look and see who they think can really help the combine be a better product,” Oshoniyi said. “They give their votes into the MLS combine committee chair and [the committee] picks the coaches from there.”

So, in order to get tapped to coach at the combine, a coach has to stand out directly to the coaches of the major league teams. To be a perennial coach at the combine, the coach must be flawless when all eyes are bearing down for that week in January, year after year.

“As far as having Dartmouth associated with the MLS combine, it’s always something that’s really, really special,” Oshoniyi said.

When asked about the impact of having multiple people from a single team selected to the combine, Oshoniyi responded quite positively.

“Definitely having Eduvie there, having Dartmouth’s name there, I think is great,” Oshoniyi said. “I think when you’re talking about Dartmouth, you’re talking about the best of the best academically, and with Wyatt [Omsberg ’18] being selected last year to the combine and getting drafted, you’re also talking now about one of the best soccer programs in the country as well.”