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Soccer coaches convention, MLS draft return to Baltimore

D.C. United's Ben Olsen, left, battles against Chivas Guadalajara's Edgar Eduardo Mejia, right, during the second half of a CONCACAF Champions Cup semifinal soccer match in 2007, in Washington. D.C. United plays in Major League Soccer. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

D.C. United’s Ben Olsen, left, battles against Chivas Guadalajara’s Edgar Eduardo Mejia, right, during the second half of a CONCACAF Champions Cup semifinal soccer match in 2007, in Washington. D.C. United plays in Major League Soccer. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

The world’s top soccer coaches will be in Baltimore this week along with the sport’s rising stars for the annual National Soccer Coaches Association of America convention. The event is expected to attract more than 10,000 attendees to the Baltimore Convention Center, marking the second citywide conference in Baltimore in 2016 thus far.

“It’s exciting that NSCAA is in town,” said Terry Hasseltine, executive director of Maryland Sports and vice president of the Maryland Stadium Authority. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for the city of Baltimore.”

The Major League Soccer SuperDraft and National Women’s Soccer League Draft will be held in conjunction with the convention. The MLS draft will be Thursday and the NWSL draft will take place on Friday. Both drafts are open to the public while the rest of the convention is only for registered participants.

The MLS draft has been held in conjunction with the convention since 2003, according to NSCAA spokeswoman Monique Bowman.

Draft prospects for both leagues are mostly NCAA college seniors. In the MLS, generation Adidas and international players are also eligible, according to the organization.

The convention is expected to bring in more than 5,000 coaches and more than 10,000 people over five days for everything from live field demonstrations to lectures and networking events.

This is the fourth time the event is taking place in Baltimore in 11 years. The convention was previously held in Baltimore in 2005, 2008 and 2011. It’s already scheduled to return to the city in 2020 and 2026, according to Baltimore Convention Center Spokeswoman Jennifer Douglass.

Baltimore is an attractive venue to the NSCAA because of its positive relationship with the city and the convention center’s ability to accommodate 10,000 people, said Bowman.

“The city of Baltimore has always been very kind to the NSCAA in hosting our Convention,” she said in an email.

The convention’s estimated economic impact is close to $9 million, she said.

The presence of the MLS Draft in Baltimore has fueled conversations about bringing a professional outdoor soccer team to Baltimore in past years. However, with a stable Philadelphia team and a new DC United facility, Hasseltine doesn’t think Baltimore will have its own team in the near future.

“We’ll have to see where those conversations go,” said Hasseltine. “I don’t think it’s going to raise an awareness as it might have three to five years ago.”