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Wynne Goes His Own Way

UCLA defender, the son of baseball major leaguer, is widely expected to be the top pick in today's MLS draft.

January 20, 2006|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

It was clear from an early age that Marvell Wynne was not going to be following his father around the basepaths.

The elder Wynne, also named Marvell, spent eight years in the major leagues as an outfielder with the Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres and Chicago Cubs.

The younger Wynne wanted nothing to do with that.

"I played baseball when I was younger," he said. "I played Little League and everything. I felt it was just too slow. I mean, there's no action. A guy's up at the plate. You hope he hits the ball. If he does and you're in the outfield, you have to wait for the ball to come to you.

"I didn't feel very involved. I needed to be moving around. I needed more action, all the time."

His father took it with a shrug.

"Baseball wasn't his game at all," he said by phone from his home in Poway. "He tried it out and didn't like it, so he started playing soccer. After that, he just took off and stayed with it, and look where he's at now."

Look, indeed.

Today, Wynne is in Philadelphia, where the 19-year-old defender from UCLA is widely expected to be the top pick in the 2006 Major League Soccer draft.

"Wow," said the older Wynne. "That makes me feel very, very proud of him."

Wynne Jr. -- not that he uses that tag -- could have gone in other directions. Basketball, for example, or even track. At Poway High, Wynne broke the school 200-meter and 400-meter records. But it was soccer that caught him and held him.

He started out as a forward but ended up as a right back, a position that allows him to use his quickness to track down opposing strikers on defense and attack down the wing on offense.

He became proficient enough to land at UCLA, where Bruin Coach Jorge Salcedo spent two years building his game. Wynne, Salcedo said, "has the most potential" of any player in today's draft.

By last spring, Wynne was polished enough to be selected by coach Sigi Schmid, then the coach of the U.S. under-20 national team, to represent the United States at the FIFA World Youth Championship in the Netherlands.

Once in Holland, he helped the U.S. shut out eventual champion Argentina in the tournament's opening game and thus caught the eye of European scouts.

At the world championship, clubs from Germany, France and Belgium were interested in Wynne, but he already had made up his mind to return to UCLA for one more season and then turn pro.

"I felt there were still some things I needed to work on technically and tactically in order to make that jump to the next level," he said. "Now I feel I'm ready to move on to the professional ranks."

The league's coaches like what they see. Chivas USA has the first pick in today's draft, unless Coach Bob Bradley trades it away at the last minute. Wynne said he would enjoy staying in Los Angeles and playing for Bradley.

Will he be the top draft choice?

"I don't know," Wynne said. "That's what I've heard. It'd be great if I was the No. 1 pick, if no trades go on and I could stay in L.A. and play for Chivas."

Said Bradley: "Everyone knows the type of player Marvel is, his athleticism. He did very well for the under-20s with Sigi. Clearly, he's a player that I think has the qualities that will allow him to step into our league and be very good."

Which is not to say that Chivas USA won't trade its No. 1 pick.

"Certainly, if the right opportunity came along, we'd consider a trade," Bradley said.

Playing for Columbus, now that Schmid is the Crew's coach, would be equally welcome to Wynne.

"That'd be great too," he said. "Sigi's a great coach and I would definitely love to play for him again. He knows what I need to work on and he'd help me."

Said Schmid: "He's a very physically gifted player who also has a tremendous desire to compete and win. I think that's what makes Marvel special."

Meanwhile, Wynne's father is looking forward to today's draft and plans to tape the televised ceremony.

"He's always been supportive of whatever I've wanted to do, but now that he sees that I'm actually going to become a pro, he's really excited for me," Wynne said.

Major League Baseball's loss is about to become Major League Soccer's gain.



* When: Today, 9 a.m.

* Where: Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia.

* TV: Fox Soccer Channel

* Chivas USA picks: 1, 37.

* Galaxy picks: 12, 24, 25, 36, 48.


For a list of the top 10 prospects for this year's draft, and a review of how previous No. 1 picks have fared, visit

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