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Chivas USA Grabs Torres

Galaxy loses one of its top young players in MLS expansion draft as Rongen's team and Real Salt Lake fill rosters.

November 20, 2004|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

This score just in: Chivas USA 1, Real Salt Lake 0.

Major League Soccer held its second expansion draft Friday afternoon, and after 10 rounds, it was clear that Chivas USA Coach Thomas Rongen had delivered the more telling blows.

Real Salt Lake Coach John Ellinger did OK, but Rongen did better, landing a punch or two to the Galaxy's midsection.

Rongen made Galaxy winger Arturo Torres the top pick in the draft, selecting the 23-year-old from Harbor City ahead of the 67 other players available, and also snapped up former Galaxy defender Ezra "E.Z." Hendrickson from MLS champion D.C. United.

"It's an honor," Torres said. "It's just a dream come true to think that I'm going to be wearing the Chivas colors and playing with players, such as Francisco Palencia and Ramon Ramirez, that I grew up watching. I can't wait for it to start.

"I used to bleed yellow and green and now I'm going to bleed red and blue."

The Galaxy made an effort to keep Torres, who was viewed as an eventual replacement for Cobi Jones on the right wing, but Chivas USA stood firm. In the end, Galaxy Coach Steve Sampson could only bid Torres good luck.

"He's known all week that he's been unprotected," Sampson said. "He trained all week like a professional. I just really think we've lost an outstanding individual, aside from a great soccer player. It's bittersweet, but we wish him well and I'm sure he'll do great things for Chivas."

Chivas USA chose to make its picks at the ESPNZone in Anaheim, where the surrealistic scene included actor Edward James Olmos draped in a red, white and blue Chivas scarf at one end of the restaurant bar and a man dressed as a goat at the other. "Chivas" is "goats" in Spanish.

"This is the biggest thing that could happen" for soccer in Los Angeles, Olmos said of Chivas USA joining MLS and playing at the Home Depot Center with the Galaxy.

Olmos said he had been a Galaxy supporter but now would split his allegiance. "I always go for the underdog and the new kid on the block is the underdog," he said. "If I could have dreamed of anything, it's that this would have happened for MLS."

Contrary to reports that Chivas USA would sign exclusively Spanish-speaking players, primarily of Mexican descent, the players Rongen selected included Jamaican international defender Craig Ziadie, Brazilian striker Thiago Martins and former UCLA forward Matt Taylor.

One new Chivas USA player with roots firmly in Mexico, however, is defender Antonio de la Torre, who was taken from the Colorado Rapids. He was born in Guadalajara. His uncle, Jose "Chepo" de la Torre, won a Mexican league championship with Chivas de Guadalajara, and another uncle, Eduardo de la Torre, was coach of Chivas and now coaches Santos Laguna.

Rongen plans to take his 10 picks to Mexico on Dec. 6 for a two-week camp in Guadalajara, where they will be joined by a dozen players from Chivas de Guadalajara, nine of whom, including a starting goalkeeper, will be signed.

Chivas USA chose four defenders, three midfielders and three forwards, and Rongen said he had achieved almost everything he had hoped for in the draft.

"I've got to be honest, I missed one player that I wanted, but batting .900, any major league baseball player would be very proud of that," he said. "I've been in a lot of drafts, and getting nine out of 10 guys that we wanted is pretty darn good."

Knowing which players were coming from Chivas de Guadalajara was an advantage, Rongen said. "We looked at specific positions that we needed to fill ... whereas Salt Lake really had to fill 11 positions."

In Utah, Real Salt Lake made Jamaican midfielder Andy Williams its top pick, while selecting one goalkeeper, three defenders, four midfielders and two forwards. Among its more notable selections were Pablo Brenes and Erick Scott, both members of Costa Rica's team at the 2004 Athens Olympics.



Expansion Draft

Players selected in the MLS expansion draft, with the players' overall selection:


*--* Player P From 1 Arturo Torres F Galaxy 3 Orlando Perez M Chicago 5 Ezra Hendrickson D D.C. United 7 Francisco Gomez M Kansas City 9 Antonio de la Torre D Colorado 11 Matt Taylor F Kansas City 13 Craig Ziadie D MetroStars 15 Jamil Walker F San Jose 17 Thiago Martins M D.C. United 19 Jeff Stewart D Colorado



*--* Player P From 2 Andy Williams M Chicago 4 D.J. Countess G Chicago 6 Pablo Brenes M MetroStars 8 Brian Kamler M New England 10 Nelson Akwari D Columbus 12 Chris Brown F San Jose 14 Matt Behncke D F.C. Dallas 16 Rusty Pierce D New England 18 Kevin Ara M D.C. United 20 Erick Scott F Columbus


Note: After losing Torres, the Galaxy was able to remove defender Paul Broome from the draft list. The Galaxy's two other players eligible for the draft -- goalkeeper Dan Popik and midfielder Marcelo Saragosa -- were not selected.

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