Los Angeles Soccer: Duncan Oughton
Former Cal State Fullerton star Duncan Oughton, a central midfielder from New Zealand and the longest-serving player for the Columbus Crew, retired Thursday and took a position in the club's front office.
Oughton, 33, who spent his full pro career with Columbus after it selected him with the 10th pick of the 2001 MLS draft, missed a year and a half with a major knee injury and saw sporadic playing time after returning in August 2006. Twice he was waived and re-signed, and his went through the re-entry-draft process in Decmeber and officially was a free agent.
The former New Zealand national-teamer will be the Crew's assistant to the technical director, a position that will include, according the club's news release on the move, work in “a variety of functional areas, including community relations, alumni relations, digital content, fan relations and youth player development.”
The Galaxy made a big splash in the second phase of Major League Soccer's re-entry draft Wednesday, taking New York Red Bulls striker Juan Pablo Angel -- arguably the finest target forward ever to play in the league -- after making a trade with Houston to move up to fourth in the draft.
The 35-year-old Colombian, who joined the Red Bulls when Galaxy coach Bruce Arena was in charge in New York, has scored 61 goals in four seasons for New York.
His contract, for $1.62 million (with $1.918 million guaranteed compensation), was not renewed, and the Galaxy will be able to negotiate a new pact with the tall striker.
“In the re-entry draft, all teams are doing is acquiring rights to players,” Arena said on a teleconference Wednesday afternoon. “There's still a negotiating period to see if we can reach an agreement. … We think he's a very fine forward, and we're hopeful we can reach an agreement. …
“The reason we took him in the re-entry draft is we think we can make it work. I think Juan wants to make it work, but we have to get in some discussions this week and see if we can reach an agreement.”
The Galaxy also selected Red Bulls midfielder Luke Sassano, and Chivas USA took Kansas City central defender Jimmy Conrad (Temple City/Temple City HS and UCLA).
Galaxy midfielder Dema Kovalenko and Chivas USA midfielder Marcelo Saragosa and defender Alex Zotinca weren't drafted and become free agents. So do Colorado midfielder Peter Vagenas (Pasadena/St. Francis HS and UCLA) and Columbus midfielder Duncan Oughton (Cal State Fullerton).
Arena said he has spoken twice with Angel in recent weeks and believes a deal can be made despite the forward's stated desire to remain on the East Coast. If signed, Angel likely would be a Designated Player, which would all but end any chance of L.A. acquiring Brazilian forward Ronaldinho.
The veteran forward wasn't taken in last first stage of the draft -- only two players were selected -- after the Galaxy declined the option on his contract.
Galaxy midfielder Dema Kovalenko and Chivas USA midfielder Marcelo Saragosa and defender Alex Zotinca remain on the list for the second stage.
Kirovski, 34, scored four goals in 21 appearances (with 11 starts) last season and 30 in seven MLS campaigns. The former U.S. national-teamer from Escondido, who emerged from Manchester United's youth academy and played for Germany's Borussia Dortmund and Fortuna Cologne, Portugal's Sporting Lisbon, and England's Crystal Palace and Birmingham City, joined the Galaxy in 2004 and returned to the club last year following four seasons in Colorado.
Also among 32 players available: Colorado midfielder Peter Vagenas (Pasadena/St. Francis HS and UCLA), Kansas City defender Jimmy Conrad (Temple City/Temple City HS and UCLA), Philadelphia goalkeeper Chris Seitz (San Luis Obipso/Thousand Oaks HS), and Columbus defender Frankie Hejduk (UCLA) and midfielder Duncan Oughton (Cal State Fullerton).
The first stage of Major League Soccer's re-entry draft took all of four minutes, and only two players were selected. Neither of them have local ties, not really.
D.C. United took former Galaxy forward Joseph Ngwenya -- who has made six moves since leaving L.A. in 2006, from Houston with the top pick Wednesday -- and Columbus grabbed Sporting Kansas City defender Aaron Hohlbein after the eight teams following D.C. passed.
Everybody else passed, D.C. and Columbus made no second-round selections, and the draft, of veteran players either out of contract or with options that had been declined, was over.
What happens now?
The Galaxy are free to negotiate through Monday morning with defensive midfielder Dema Kovalenko and forward/midfielder Jovan Kirovski and Chivas USA with midfielder Marcelo Saragosa and defender Alex Zotinca. If no deal is made, they'll be available in next Wednesday's second stage of the draft. After that, unselected players become free agents.
Five players either from SoCal or who played college soccer here -- 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) -- were among 35 players on the list for Wednesday's draft. Only Conrad is out of contract.
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.