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Thursday, January 12, 2012
MLS DRAFT: Chivas, Galaxy target needs

By Scott French

Chivas USA got its man, the Galaxy bolstered its ailing backline, and UCLA's Kelyn Rowe was the No. 3 overall selection in Thursday's MLS SuperDraft.

Chandler Hoffman surprisingly slipped into the teens and two UC Santa Barbara products were taken with the first six picks and Major League Soccer's most visible -- but not necessarily most productive -- player-acquisition mechanism unfolded in Kansas City.

The Goats took Maryland's Casey Townsend, the best senior forward in the draft, with the No. 5 selection, and the Galaxy, reeling from Omar Gonzalez's knee injury, used its pick at the end first round pick on big Indiana central defender Tommy Meyer, who has U-17 World Cup experience.

Rowe went early to New England, but teammate Hoffman fell to 13th, where Philadelphia added to its collection of UCLA alums.

Two UC Santa Barbara products were taken in the top six, with midfielder Luis Silva (Los Angeles/Salesian HS) going to Toronto FC with the fourth pick and forward/midfielder Sam Garza taken by San Jose at No. 6.

Townsend, a first-team All-American who scored 17 goals as a senior and 43 in four seasons at Maryland, said he was hoping to join Chivas after talking to head coach Robin Fraser at the MLS Player Combine in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“It was very exciting, very nerve-racking,” Townsend, MVP of the combine, told ESPN Los Angeles. “I was really hoping to go to Chivas. I had a great sit-down meeting with them. They were my gut feeling, and I was really excited to hear them call my name.”

The Galaxy's plan was to take the best player available, and it turned out to be a center back, a position of need following MLS Defender of the Year Gonzalez's torn ACL last week on the first day of a loan to FC Nuremberg.

Meyer started 79 games in four seasons at Indiana, which, like Maryland, is a longtime national powerhouse. He credited Hoosiers head coach Todd Yeagley and assistant Brian Maisonneuve -- former IU stars who played in MLS; Maisonneuve was on the 1998 U.S. World Cup team -- with furthering his development.

“They really pushed me, especially this year, to take the next step and, hopefully, be ready for MLS,” Meyer said.

The Galaxy selected Louisville defensive midfielder Kenney Walker, a technically gifted player who impressed at the combine, with the 38th pick to end the SuperDraft.

Duke defender/midfielder Andrew Wenger was the No. 1 pick in the draft, by expansion Montreal, and Vancouver took Akron forward Darren Mattocks with the No. 2 selection. They had been expected to be the first two players taken, although most mock drafts had the order reversed.

Two local players expected to be selected -- UC Irvine midfielder Miguel Ibarra and UCLA holding midfielder Andy Rose -- were passed over. Rose's English citizenship is an issue; he will count as a foreign player on his club's roster. Both will likely be taken, along with a few other L.A.-based players, in Tuesday's four-round supplemental draft.

Here are the local selections:

CHIVAS USA
First round
5. F Casey Townsend (Maryland)

GALAXY
First round
19. D Tommy Meyer (Indiana)
Second round
38. M Kenney Walker (Louisville)

LOCAL PLAYERS
First round
3. New England: M Kelyn Rowe/GA (UCLA)
4. Toronto FC: M Luis Silva (UC Santa Barbara), Los Angeles (Salesian HS)
6. San Jose: M/F Sam Garza/GA (UC Santa Barbara)
13. Philadelphia: F Chandler Hoffman/GA (UCLA)