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Tuesday, January 17, 2012
CHIVAS USA: Goats go local, go defense

By Scott French

Chivas USA focused on defense in Thursday's MLS Supplemental Draft, grabbing an outside back with its first pick, then adding central defenders -- one a local kid, the other from Germany -- in the second round.

Brian Rowe
UCLA goalkeeper Brian Rowe clears his goalmouth under pressure at MLS's pre-draft combine.
The Goats, all five of their selections in the first two rounds, also took UCLA goalkeeper Brian Rowe, who was in the MLS combine, and Cal State Fullerton midfielder Kevin Venegas (Lakewood/Los Alamitos HS), who attended a Chivas combine last weekend.

Chivas used its first pick, fifth overall, on Monmouth right back R.J. Allen, a two-time All-American who attended the league's pre-draft combine and was on Chivas' list of possibles for last week's SuperDraft.

San Diego State's Daniel Steres (Calabasas/Calabasas HS) was expected to be drafted, and the other center back, 6-foot-3 Fabian Kling from NCAA Division II champion Fort Lewis, is among the most intriguing picks of the draft season.

“[Kling is] a guy, we got an email, a recommendation from someone,” Chivas general manager Jose Domene said. “He's a big dude. A big fella. An international player, from Germany.”

He's from Augsburg and is a two-time D2 All-American and the division's player of the year last season, but more compelling are his numbers: 28 goals, half of them game-winners, in four seasons. That suggests he's a force on set pieces, a quality Chivas could use at both ends.

Allen, Domene said, was “on our board last week, but we didn't have a second-round pick -- not that we would have [necessarily] picked him. He's a guy we valued high, and we're lucky he fell to us.”

Rowe, a second-team All-American from Eugene, Ore., shut out 12 foes as the Bruins marched to the NCAA Final Four. He's one of five goalkeepers in camp battling for two jobs backing up Dan Kennedy.

“You know Robin [Fraser, Chivas' head coach]. He likes competition,” Domene said. “May the best keeper win.”

The 6-0 Steres, a four-year starter at San Diego State, was an All-West Region defender as a senior. Venegas, an All-Big West midfielder, led Fullerton with six goals and six assists.

Domene said familiarity favored the local players.

“[These are] guys we've seen more than guys on the East Coast,” Domene said. “It makes more sense to us to pick a local guy than pick a guy from the East Coast. These are guys we saw throughout the season, not just as [conference] tournaments and the combine.

“And local flavor doesn't hurt. We're advocates for Southern California players.”