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SLU stars shoot for the next level

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For most college athletes, their senior year marks the final chapter of their long career in sports. But this month, four senior SLU soccer players are attempting to take their talent to the next level.
Midfielder Kingsley Bryce, forward Robert Kristo, and defender Anthony Manning were three of just 55 college athletes from across the country invited to showcase their skills in the 2015 Adidas MLS Player Combine, which took place Jan. 8-13 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Combine is an opportunity for the coaching staffs from all 20 MLS teams to observe these top Division 1 recruits in anticipation of the MLS SuperDraft this Thursday, Jan. 14.

Bryce and Manning attended the showcase, while Kristo declined the invitation and is expected to sign with an Italian team later next week.

In addition, midfielder Raymond Lee attended the InfoSport Pro Soccer Combine. This showcase includes scouts from MLS, NASL, and USL teams, took place in Fort Lauderdale, Fl. from Jan. 6-8.
“All of these players came into the SLU program with aspirations of playing professional soccer, so it’s good to see them get this opportunity,” Billiken head coach Mike McGinty said. “I am excited for them and we all look forward to watching them continue their careers on the professional level.”

The four seniors have had successful soccer careers at SLU and show great potential to succeed at the professional level. With 97 career points (41 goals and 15 assists),  Kristo was ranked second among active scorers in NCAA Division 1 soccer. This past season, he led the team in scoring for the fourth consecutive season with 14 goals and 2 assists, including six game-winning goals. He was selected as the 2014 Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year and named as a first-team All-American, his third All-American recognition.

Had he elected to continue his career in America, Kristo likely would have been a top draft-pick, but Kristo has his sights set on Europe. While a deal has not been officially announced, American Soccer Now is reporting that Kristo will soon be signing with a club in Italy’s Serie B division.

Another offensive threat,  Bryce was second only to Kristo for points this season, with 16 (6 goals and 4 assists). He was named second-team All-conference as a junior and awarded Most Outstanding Player of the A-10 Conference Championship his sophomore year.

On the other end of the pitch,  Manning led the Billikens’ defense to a league-high 11 shutouts this season. He was selected as the A-10’s Defensive Player of the Year twice in a row, his junior and senior years. Additionally, Manning took the third spot on the team for points, with 12 points (5 goals and 2 assists).

Finally, Raymond Lee earned a second-team All-Conference recognition and recorded 8 points (2 goals and 4 assists) this season, the fifth most on the team.

The first two rounds of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft will begin Jan. 15. Rounds 3 and 4 will be held Jan. 20.

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SLU stars shoot for the next level