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Sanner to head to MLS Combine in January

After stellar performance after stellar performance during his senior season, and indeed, throughout his career as a Tiger, forward Thomas Sanner now looks to take his talents to the next level.

Sanner, the unanimous choice for Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year, has been invited to the 2016 Adidas Major League Soccer Player Combine. He is one of just 59 players from across Division I soccer to be invited to Combine, where he and others hope to impress scouts from MLS teams across the nation.


Throughout the 2015 season, Sanner’s prowess on offense was second to none. He led the Ancient 8 in scoring by a large margin, finding the back of the net 13 times this season — nearly double that of the league’s second leading scorer (Harvard’s Jake Freeman, with 7). His ability to create shots himself made him a remarkably adept playmaker — Sanner was also tied for second in the Ivies for assists, finding his teammates for goals 5 times on the season.

The list of Sanner’s accomplishments for the Orange and Black is certainly a long one. He was named First-Team All-Ivy during his sophomore season and was the Ivy League Rookie of the Year during the 2012 season.

Indeed, having been such a focal point for the offense in his four years as a Tiger, it appears that one major transition Sanner could have to make is working with a host of players, all of whom are as accomplished and as used to being the go-to guy as he is.

However, with so much superstar talent around him, Sanner’s abilities as a playmaker could come into full view at the event.

“What I’m pretty excited about in the Combine is that all these guys are going to be trying to show off their skills individually, and that kind of suits my game,” Sanner said. “I want to get them the ball. I want them to be able to show their stuff, and then get the ball in the box and be able to finish [and] let them do all the fancy stuff.”

Helping ease the transition is the connection with a former Tiger who’s gone through the same process. Cameron Porter ’15, a star player during his four years at Princeton, went to the Combine in January of 2015 and was taken in the thirdround of the MLS SuperDraft by the Montreal Impact.


Indeed, starting a career the way Porter did could bode much success. In one of his first appearances for the Impact, Porter put in a goal in the 94thminute to send his team to the CONCACAF Champions’ League semifinals.

“We’ve definitely talked and will be continuing to talk as I continue to prepare. He told me that it’s definitely a hard environment and a unique environment with such good players,” Sanner said. “But basically you just have to play your own game and worry about the things you can control … and be confident and do your best.”

While the transition from NCAA to professional sports may seem like a huge hurdle, Sanner pointed out that this process of “stepping up” was something he already experienced when moving from high school to Division I soccer. The need to comport oneself as professionally as possible and to make as strong an impression on a new coaching staff remains the same.

“Coming onto a new team and learning to mesh is something you get used to — I’ve played on summer teams and whatnot when I go home,” Sanner said. “I’ll play with other teams and learn to mesh with a new group of guys — [learning] what people like and how to play with certain people. There’s definitely a similarity between coming into college and what I would expect [going] into the Combine.”

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“[It's nice] having a blank slate, where coaches are just developing their opinions on you, [but] you have to be professional in all aspects — not just on the field but off the field, in warmups and just everything,” Sanner said.