Los Angeles Soccer: 2011 MLS Draft

MLS DRAFT: Locals only

January, 13, 2011
How did local players fared in Thursday's Major League Soccer draft:
Quartet finds employment

  • Michael Tetteh (UC Santa Barbara): Top left back in the draft lasted into the second round, was taken by Seattle with the 20th selection.
  • Michael Farfan (North Carolina): The playmaker from Wildomar (Cal State Fullerton) saw his stock drop considerably after a poor combine. Philadelphia took him with the 23rd pick, the last of the Generation adidas players to go.
  • Hector Jimenez (California): Midfielder from Bell Gardens (Bell Gardens HS) is headed home, snapped up by the Galaxy in the second round (34th pick)
  • Davis Paul (California): The forward from Upland (Damien HS), Jimenez's teammate at Arsenal FC in Alta Loma, heads to Chicago in the third round, with the 51st of 54 picks.
Who waited … and waited ...

  • Michael Boxall (UC Santa Barbara): The New Zealand national-teamer went into the combine regarded among the top center backs, but his weaknesses -- struggles to keep up with fast forwards, questionable decision-making, an inability to play out of the back -- really hurt him. And his foreign status doesn't help either.
  • Amani Walker (UC Irvine): Target forward didn't offer a good enough glimpse of himself during the combine and dropped further down the depth chart. He's a good bet for the supplemental draft.

Up for grabs in Tuesday's second draft

  • Rafael Baca (Loyola Marymount): The wing-midfielder from Lawndale (Animo Leadership HS) would make a nice pickup for some MLS club.
  • Corey Attaway (UC Irvine): Hard-working, versatile midfielder from Chino (Chino Hills HS) deserved a combine invite, is going to play somewhere.

Hector Jimenez's Galaxy homecoming

January, 13, 2011
Hector Jimenez grew up going to Galaxy games with his family. Now they'll be coming out to see him.

L.A. took the midfielder from Bell Gardens and the University of California in the second round of Thursday's Major League Soccer draft in Baltimore, and he's happy to be coming home.

“It definitely makes [becoming a pro player] more special,” Jimenez told ESPN Los Angeles. “I was just hoping to get taken by any team and keep playing. Thankfully, the Galaxy has given me an opportunity to stay home and stay local and have my family come watch me.”

Jimenez is a savvy, skillful right-sided midfielder who combines well, and coach Bruce Arena wasn't expecting him to still be around when the Galaxy's second selection, at No. 34 overall, arrived.

“He was a player we didn’t think was going to be available that far into the second round,” Arena said. “so when the time came in the second round, and he was available, it was pretty natural for us to select him.”

The moment he was announced, Jimenez said, was “the greatest experience ever. I was full of joy, tears coming out of my eyes. I can't explain it, just full of joy. For all the hard work to finally pay off.”

There's plenty of hard work ahead. Arena is stocking for the future, and although Jimenez will be expected to provide some quality minutes in 2011, he's under no pressure to be a huge contributor.

(Read full post)

Zarek Valentin lands in Chivas' lap

January, 13, 2011
Zarek Valentin left his Major League Soccer combine sitdown with Chivas USA officials knowing where he wanted to be. On Thursday, he learned the feeling was mutual.

The 19-year-old defender, one of the big names in the MLS SuperDraft in Baltimore, went to the Goats with the fourth pick overall. A center back at NCAA champion Akron, he figures to play right back for Chivas -- and could be the starter from the beginning.

Valentin said hearing his name called at the draft was “an absolutely amazing feeling I don't think will ever be replicated.”

“After we had our individual meetings [with teams], I left that meeting [with Chivas] saying this is the team I want to be part of,” Valentin told ESPN Los Angeles. “They've got a great vision of what they want to do with the team and what my role would be. It's a very good situation for me. It's the best thing that could possibly happen for me. I couldn't be happier.”

Valentin, who signed a Generation adidas contract after two sterling seasons at Akron, figures to receive first-class instruction. New Chivas coach Robin Fraser and assistants Greg Vanney and Carlos Llamosa were U.S. national team backs. So was Jimmy Conrad, who was acquired in last month's re-entry draft.

He's also looking forward to reuniting with former Akron teammates Blair Gavin and Ben Zemanski. “Blair is the reason I went to Akron,” Valentin said. “I really wanted to play with Blair. He was my roommate [at the U.S. U-17 residency] in Florida, and I followed him to Akron.”

(Read full post)

MLS DRAFT: Galaxy, Chivas add to rosters

January, 13, 2011
Chivas USA strengthened its depth up front and on the backline and the Galaxy traded for a forward and made moves toward the future in Major League Soccer's draft Thursday in Baltimore.

Chivas got one of the prizes in the draft, taking with the fourth overall pick versatile defender Zarek Valentin -- among seven players selected from NCAA champion Akron -- then traded allocation money for another first-round selection and nabbed Ecuadoran forward Victor Estupiņan with the 14th pick.

The Galaxy's big move occurred before the draft began, with another trade meant to help fill the gap left by Edson Buddle's departure for Germany. L.A. acquired former UCLA forward Chad Barrett from Toronto FC for future considerations, then took midfielders with their draft picks.

Barrett, coach Bruce Arena said, is “an experienced player in MLS who has scored goals” -- 38 in six seasons -- “a player that we can certainly expect a lot more out of him than the [available forwards] we'd be taking out of the draft.”

The Galaxy took Uruguayan midfielder Paolo Cardozo with the 16th overall selection and Cal midfielder Hector Jimenez, from Bell Gardens (Bell Gardens HS), with the 33rd pick.

“We think they have some qualities we don't have in our team …” Arena said. “We need to be patient and place them in the right environment to develop to help our team. We're not expecting young, inexperienced players of this nature to step on the field and have an [immediate] impact.”

Arena said the Galaxy declined the option on winger Alex Cazumba's loan from Sao Paulo, but that Brazilian midfielder Juninho and defender Leonardo's loan deals had been extended.

(Read full post)

MLS DRAFT: Galaxy take local product

January, 13, 2011

The Galaxy made Hector Jimenez, a Cal midfielder from Bell Gardens, their second selection in Major League Soccer's draft Thursday, then traded away their final pick.

Chivas USA added depth with their last selection, and Yorba Linda's Steven Lenhart headed west in a trade.

Jimenez, a winger with skill and strong creative instincts, was taken with the 34th overall selection. The two-time All-Pacific 10 Conference first-teamer, who played at Arsenal FC and for Bell Gardens High School, had five goals and 28 assists in four years at Cal.

L.A. traded its third-round pick to D.C. United for two first-round selections in Tuesday's supplemental draft.

Chivas USA used its third-round selection, No. 40 overall, on versatile Brown midfielder Jon Okafor.

Four local players were drafted -- UC Santa Barbara's Michael Tetteh (by Seattle), former Cal State Fullerton midfielder Michael Farfan (by Philadelphia) and Jimenez in the second round, and Upland's Davis Paul (by Chicago), from Cal, in the third.

Lenhart (Esperanza HS/Azusa Pacific) was traded from Columbus to San Jose for the No. 15 pick in the draft, whch the Crew used to acquire University of Michigan forward Justin Meram.

Here are the local picks:

1/16 Paolo Cardozo (Quilmes/Argentina), M
2/34 Hector Jimenez (California), M
+ F Chad Barrett, trade from Toronto FC for future considerations

1/4 Zarek Valentin (Akron), D (GA)
1/14 Victor Estupiņan (LDU Quito/Ecuador), F
3/40 Jon Okafor (Brown), M/D

2/20 Seattle: Michael Tetteh (UC Santa Barbara), M, Los Olivos (Dunn School), GA
2/23 Philadelphia: Michael Farfan (North Carolina), M, Wildomar (Cal State Fullerton), GA
2/34 Galaxy: Hector Jimenez (California), M, Bell Gardens (Bell Gardens HS)
3/51 Chicago: Davis Paul (California), F/M, Upland (Damien HS)

MLS DRAFT: Galaxy grabs Uruguayan

January, 13, 2011

The Galaxy took Uruguayan midfielder Paolo Cardozo with its first selection, the 16th overall, in Thursday's Major League Soccer draft. Cardozo, 21, played in Argentina's second division last season for Quilmes.

L.A. acquired former UCLA striker Chad Barrett in a trade from Toronto FC as the draft began.

Chivas USA sent allocation money to Real Salt Lake for the 14th pick and used it on Victor Estupiņan, a 23-year-old Ecuadoran striker, from LDU Quito, who fared well at the league combine in Fort Lauderdale. The Goats took Akron defender Zarek Valentin with the No. 4 selection.

Draft so far (full first round) …

1. Vancouver: F Omar Salgado (U.S. U-20), GA
2. Portland: F Darlington Nagbe (Akton), GA
3. D.C. United: M Perry Kitchen (Akron), GA
4. Chivas USA: D Zarek Valentin (Akron), GA
5. Philadelphia: G Zac MacMath (Maryland), GA
6. New England: D A.J. Soars (California)
7. Houston: D Kofi Sarkodie (Akron), GA
8. Vancouver: M Michael Nanchoff (Akron), GA
9. Chicago: D Jalil Anibaba (North Carolina)
10. Kansas City: F C.J. Sapong (James Madison)
11. Houston: F Will Bruin (Indiana), GA
12. Columbus: D Rich Balchan (Indiana)
13. New York: F Corey Hertzog (Penn State), GA
14. Chivas USA: F Victor Estupiņan (LDU Quito/Ecuador)
15. Columbus: F Justin Meram (Michigan)
16. Galaxy: M Paolo Cardozo (Quilmes/Argentina)
17. FC Dallas: D/M Bobby Warshaw (Stanford)
18. Colorado: D Eddie Ababio (North Carolina)

MLS DRAFT: Chivas takes a defender

January, 13, 2011

Chivas USA took University of Akron defender Zarek Valentin with the fourth pick in Major League Soccer's draft Thursday. The Generation adidas prospect played as a center back for the NCAA champion Zips, but he's projected as a right back in MLS.

Valentin was the third Akron player selected, following Darlington Nagbe (to Portland with the second pick) and Perry Kitchen (to D.C. United with the third).

Valentin's brother, Julian, is a central defender for second-tier FC Tampa Bay after two seasons with the Galaxy.

L.A. TRADE: The Galaxy traded for forward Chad Barrett, a UCLA product, sending future considerations to Toronto FC. Barrett, , is an effective if inelegant forward who scored seven goals last season, his third with the Reds, and has 34 in 131 career games in six seasons with the Chicago Fire and Toronto FC.

Draft so far …

1. Vancouver: F Omar Salgado (U.S. U-20), GA
2. Portland: F Darlington Nagbe (Akton), GA
3. D.C. United: M Perry Kitchen (Akron), GA
4. Chivas USA: D Zarek Valentin (Akron), GA
5. Philadelphia: G Zac MacMath (Maryland), GA
6. New England: D A.J. Soars (California)
7. Houston: D Kofi Sarkodie (Akron), GA
8. Vancouver: M Michael Nanchoff (Akron), GA
9. Chicago: D Jalil Anibaba (North Carolina)
10. Kansas City: F C.J. Sapong (James Madison)

MLS DRAFT: Mock first round

January, 12, 2011

The best players available in Thursday's Major League Soccer "SuperDraft"? They're below, in our mock first round. Trades will alter the order, with Real Salt Lake, in particular, looking to deal -- if anybody wants the No. 14 pick.

Several teams, the Galaxy included, could be looking to move up in the draft -- the first half-dozen or so players would help anybody, and there are a few more role players available in a class that might be better than first thought.

The draft has shrunk to just three rounds -- 54 picks -- but those not selected will be available in a four-round supplemental draft Tuesday.

And on to the picks:

(Read full post)

MLS DRAFT: Chivas USA awaits a prize

January, 12, 2011
Chivas USA knows it's getting something special in Thursday's Major League Soccer draft (ESPN2, 9 a.m.), but what?

The guess here is that the Goats opt for one among the three best backliners available with the No. 4 selection: University of North Carolina center back Jalil Anibaba, Akron right back Kofi Sarkodie or Akron defender Zarek Valentin, a center back whose future probably is as an outside back.

Anibaba, skilled and smooth, is a center back with some of the qualities possessed by Robin Fraser, Chivas' new head coach. Sarkodie is ready to step in at right back -- he's a brazen attacker, but there are questions about his defensive game. Valentin, the brother of former Galaxy defender Julian Valentin, is most versatile.

Chivas has plenty of needs, and Fraser could decide to go for a forward -- there are at least a half-dozen who are highly regarded -- or a creative midfielder, but the best value will be at the back.

Chivas' draft:

SELECTIONS: 2 (1st round, No. 4; 3rd round, No. 40)

PRIMARY NEEDS: Just about everything, except perhaps central midfielders -- and maybe wingers, if Rodolfo Espinoza is re-signed. Watch for a top-line central defender, who can learn from Jimmy Conrad, or an attack-minded outside back to arrive with the first pick, although there are a couple of forwards who might prove too enticing.

POTENTIAL TARGETS: Anibaba, Sarkodie or Valentin are the best bets, but Texas-born forward Omar Salgado, just 17, would be a most fitting addition. He comes from the Chivas family -- he was in Guadalajara's youth ranks but was forced to leave when he committed his international future to the U.S. He's 6-foot-4 with tremendous upside. ... Two other forwards who might be considered are Ecuadorans Joao Plata, just 5-3 but with magic in his feet, and Victor Estupian. ... Tulsa wing-forward Ashley McInnes' stock dropped during the combine, but he might be a steal if he's still around at No. 40.

MLS DRAFT: Galaxy has choices at 16

January, 12, 2011
The Galaxy would need to make a deal, maybe a big one, to move into prime territory and snag one of the two big prizes in Thursday's Major League Soccer SuperDraft (ESPN2, 9 a.m.), and we're certainly not expecting that.

Darlington Nagbe, a creative forward who has the kind of star quality his former University of Akron teammates Steve Zakuani and Teal Bunbury brought to the league in the past two drafts, would be a wonderful addition for a club looking for attacking talent. So would central midfielder Perry Kitchen, Nagbe's Akron teammate, the other can't-miss player up for grabs.

The Galaxy doesn't pick until No. 16, when they'll have a choice of several prospects with potential, a few who might be ready to contribute quickly, one of two who might fill real needs.

The Galaxy's draft:

SELECTIONS: 3 (1st round, No. 16; 2nd, No. 34; 3rd, No. 50)

PRIMARY NEEDS: A two-way midfielder and a forward with real potential, but also depth in midfield -- especially on the wings -- and along the backline.

POTENTIAL TARGETS: Big (6-foot-4), versatile North Carolina midfielder Stephen McCarthy or two-way Duke midfielder Cole Grossman would be perfect, but they'll likely be gone by the 16th pick. ... If Cal center back A.J. Soares is still around, nab him. ... Stanford's Bobby Warshaw can play in midfield or in the back. ... Akron attacking midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong could develop into something special with the right mentoring -- and could still be available. ... Ecuadoran forward Victor Estupinan was a combine standout. ... Akron center back Chris Korb would be a good second-round pick, if he lasts to 34. ... Sacramento State midfielder Ernesto Carranza, Loyola Marymount winger Rafael Baca or UC Irvine forward Amani Walker could be there in the third round.

MLS DRAFT: 5 locals to watch

January, 12, 2011
There's not a huge contingent of local prospects in Major League Soccer's draft Thursday (ESPN2, 9 a.m.), but at least three (and maybe more) figure to be gone by the time the last of three rounds arrives.

Here are the top five propsects with SoCal roots (and seven more who could slip in):

1. MICHAEL TETTEH (UC Santa Barbara)

The Ghanaian speedster, who went to the Dunn School in Los Olivos, went into the combine as the top-ranked left back, and two subpar outings weren't enough to change that. He's raw, but Tetteh's otherworldy pace and a Generation adidas contract, which means he won't count against roster size nor cap, makes him a coveted prospect.

2. MICHAEL FARFAN (North Carolina)

The former Cal State Fullerton playmaker from Windomar, in Riverside County, is a two-time All-American with U.S. youth national team experience, but there are concerns about how quickly he can raise his game under heavy pressure, and he did himself no favors during the combine. But he's got the skill and there's no denying his body of work in Chapel Hill.

3. MICHAEL BOXALL (UC Santa Barbara)

The New Zealander has extensive experience -- he's already appeared for the Kiwis' national team -- but he appeared to slip down the center-back depth chart with a hit-and-mostly-miss combine. That likely dropped him out of first-round contention, but his play for the Gauchos will aid his cause.

4. HECTOR JIMENEZ (California)

The wing-midfielder from Bell Gardens (Bell Gardens HS) has great touch, combines well and has the skill to create. He enjoyed a solid combine, especially the first two days, with Bears teammate Demetrius Omphroy providing support.

5. RAFAEL BACA (Loyola Marymount)

The midfielder from Lanwndale (Animo Leadership HS) was a surprise omission from the combine, but the former Galaxy U-20 player could be a nice fit for a team looking for a right-sided winger. His coach with the Lions, Paul Krumpe, has no doubts: “He can be a fantastic wide midfielder at the next level. Talk about a guy with a ridiculous amount of workrate. He's solid through and through.”


M Corey Attaway (UC Irvine)/Chino (Chino Hills HS)
D Joel Bagby (UC Irvine)/Huntington Beach (Edison HS)
M/D Gray Bailey (UC Irvine)/Huntington Beach (Huntington Beach HS)
F Tomislav Colic (Vanguard)
*F Davis Paul (California)/Upland (Damien HS)
F Spencer Thompson (UC Irvine)
*F Amani Walker (UC Irvine)

* Attended combine