Gonsalves leaves MLS combine

DEAN MCNULTY, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 8:14 AM ET

A bout with mononucleosis has knocked Major League Soccer prospect Jeffrey Gonsalves out of the players combine in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

The 21-year-old product of Markham's Brother Andre Catholic High School was felled with the nasty bug prior to the start of the camp.

Gonsalves is listed at No. 3 on the MLS draft chart for forwards and with Toronto FC taking the field for its inaugural season in 2007, it has been speculated he could wind up as the club's first pick.

A senior at the University of Rhode Island, Gonsalves has played the past four seasons with the Rams men's soccer team and it was URI coaches who advised him to pull out of the combines.

URI head coach John O'Connor said that Gonsalves probably could have attended all of the combine workouts because he has pretty much recovered from the disease.

"(But) we thought he wouldn't be at full strength after just getting over mono," O'Connor told The Toronto Sun yesterday from the team's Kingston, R.I., home base. "So we advised him to come home."

PROSPECTS

O'Connor was quick to add, however, that missing the four-day exercise in Florida should not hurt Gonsalves' prospects in next Friday's MLS draft in Indianapolis.

"He was the second-best scorer in Division I soccer this season," O'Connor said. "MLS coaches already know what he can do."

Gonsalves has been a team captain on the URI squad for the past two seasons and O'Connor said that he leads the NCAA Division I team by example.

"Jeff is one of three captains on the team," O'Connor said. "He's not the kind of captain to do a lot of shouting. He does his leading on the field."

O'Connor said he will be at the MLS draft and wouldn't be surprised if Gonsalves goes in the first round.

"Certainly with his scoring ability Jeff is deserving of being ranked third among forwards in the draft," he said. "He has played well with and against players -- some of whom are now in the MLS and others who now play internationally -- while at URI."


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