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Friday, December 3, 2010
Galaxy declines Dema Kovalenko's option

By Scott French

Dema Kovalenko, whose fierce approach to defense was pivotal in the Galaxy's run to the Western Conference title game, could be parting ways with L.A.


The club declined the option on the 33-year-old Ukrainian midfielder and can bring him back at a lower salary only if he isn't taken in next week's first stage of Major League Soccer's re-entry draft.

The Galaxy also declined the option on 34-year-old forward/midfielder Jovan Kirovski, and Chivas declined options on midfielder Marcelo Saragosa and 33-year-old Romanian-born defender Alex Zotinca.

Five local-bred players -- Kansas City defender Jimmy Conrad (Temple City/Temple City HS and UCLA), Colorado midfielder Peter Vagenas (Pasadena/St. Francis HS and UCLA), Columbus defender Frankie Hejduk (UCLA) and midfielder Duncan Oughton (Cal State Fullerton) and Philadelphia goalkeeper Chris Seitz (San Luis Obipso/Thousand Oaks HS) -- are among 35 players available in the re-entry draft. All but Seitz are older than 30.

The draft's first stage will be held Wednesday and the second stage a week later, part of a complicated structure which could lead to free agency or something similar. Of the players above, only Conrad, MLS's Defender of the Year in 2005 and a member of the 2006 U.S. World Cup team, is out of contract.

Kovalenko this season made $136,500 in base salary and $144,118.75 in guaranteed compensation, and reducing his figure against the salary cap could be important as the Galaxy seeks to bring in a top-line forward or playmaker. Reports have the club either having agreed to or about to agree to a deal with Brazilian star Ronaldinho.

Kirovski ($84K) provided attacking depth, and his importance diminishes if L.A. signs Ronaldinho or brings in another attacking player.

Saragosa, 28,  whose salary figures were $130K/$134,285.71, became superfluous to Chivas when fellow Brazilian Paulo Nagamura returned last summer from a stint in Mexico; Zotinca ($60K) played just 45 minutes in 2010.

Chivas USA also declined the option on forward Eduardo Lillingston, who spent the past year on loan to Club Tijuana and then Indios de Ciudad Juarez in Mexico's Liga de Ascenso. Lillingston has signed with Mexican Primera Division side Estuadiante Tecos.


Big names on the draft list: Columbus forward Guillermo Barros Schelotto, the 2008 MLS MVP; New York forward Juan Pablo Angel; D.C. United forward Jaime Moreno (the all-time MLS goals leader with 133); FC Dallas forward Jeff Cunningham (second on the list, with 132); and Kansas City forward Josh Wolff, who played for the U.S. at the 2006 World Cup. Schelotto's, Angel's and Moreno's departures from their clubs had already been announced.