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Chivas Stocks Up, Galaxy Overhauls

In college draft, Rongen picks goalkeeper for MLS expansion team. Sampson continues rebuilding his roster.

January 15, 2005|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

Chivas USA Coach Thomas Rongen is building his club from the ground up. To that end, Rongen selected four players in Major League Soccer's 10th college draft on Friday.

His first choice, after Real Salt Lake had made 16-year-old defensive midfielder Nikolas Besagno the top pick, was American-born goalkeeper Brad Guzan of the University of South Carolina. Guzan was the second player chosen overall. At 6 feet 4 and 210 pounds, he gives Chivas some imposing clout at the back.

Galaxy Coach Steve Sampson is dismantling the Sigi Schmid-era team while at the same time rebuilding the club to his own liking. To that end, Sampson traded established starter Sasha Victorine to the Kansas City Wizards and picked up five players in the draft.

His first choice, and the fifth player selected overall, was Nigerian-born defender Ugochukwu "Ugo" Obinna Ihemelu of Southern Methodist.

In all, 48 players were drafted into MLS over four rounds, and both Los Angeles teams came away from the exercise believing they had improved their rosters.

"I'm very, very pleased with our selections," Rongen said. "We walked away with four players we feel very comfortable with, four players that we wanted before this draft.

"We addressed some needs in certain positions."

In addition to Guzan, who will battle Mexican veteran Martin Zuniga for the starting spot in goal, Chivas USA drafted Huntington Park-born midfielder Christian Jimenez of the University of South Florida (14th overall); Mexican-born defensive midfielder Aaron Lopez of UCLA (26th overall), and Bakersfield-born defender Esteban Arias of the University of Connecticut (38th overall).

The Galaxy had two first-round picks and used them to get Ihemelu and another defender, Troy Roberts of Cal, who was chosen eighth.

Sampson then traded Victorine -- a first-round pick in 2000, a starter on the Galaxy's 2002 championship team and the club's third-leading active goal scorer behind Cobi Jones and Carlos Ruiz -- to Kansas City for the 15th overall pick, which Sampson used to acquire UCLA midfielder/forward Michael Enfield of Ventura.

The trade, said Doug Hamilton, the Galaxy's president and general manager, was made not only to acquire Enfield but also to give the Galaxy additional salary cap room. That, combined with a player allocation Los Angeles received from Real Salt Lake in exchange for the Galaxy's natural second-round selection (22nd overall), means the Galaxy now has the chance of signing three international players.

Also selected by the Galaxy were forward Quavas Kirk of the U.S. under-17 national team (34th overall) and Zimbabwean midfielder Mubarike Chisoni of Coastal Carolina University.

In addition to Besagno, Guzan, Ihemelu and Roberts, eight other players were first-round picks.

The Chicago Fire came away with highly rated UCLA forward Chad Barrett, picked third overall, as well as equally impressive Notre Dame defender Jack Stewart of Torrance, the No. 10 pick.

The San Jose Earthquakes traded midfielders Richard Mulrooney and Arturo Alvarez and two later selections so they could land perhaps the most coveted player of all, defensive midfielder Danny O'Rourke of NCAA champion Indiana, the fourth player selected.

Also, FC Dallas snapped up O'Rourke's Indiana teammate, defender Drew Moor; the Colorado Rapids drafted Virginia defender/midfielder Hunter Freeman; the New England Rev- olution used its top pick to select Wake Forest defender Michael Parkhurst, whose Wake Forest teammate, Trinidad international forward Scott Sealy, was drafted by the Wizards. Defender Tim Ward of St. Louis University, the final first-round selection, was chosen by the MetroStars.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

MLS Draft

FIRST ROUND

*--* Player Team Pos Affiliation 1. Nikolos Besagno Real Salt Lake MF U.S. Under-17 2. Brad Guzan Chivas USA GK South Carolina 3 Chad Barrett Chicago F UCLA 4. Danny O'Rourke San Jose MF Indiana 5. Ugochukweu Ihemelu Galaxy D Southern Methodist 6. Drew Moor FC Dallas D Indiana 7. Hunter Freeman Colorado D/MF Virginia 8. Troy Roberts Galaxy D California 9. Michael Parkhurst New England D Wake Forest 10. Jack Stewart Chicago D Notre Dame 11. Scott Sealy Kansas City F Wake Forest 12. Tim Ward MetroStars D St. Louis

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