By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 19, 2008
BALTIMORE, Jan. 18 -- With no first-round picks in the MLS draft Friday and no great desire to make a trade in order to move up, D.C. United's decision-makers waited nearly two hours before making their first selection. When their turn finally arrived, 10 slots into the second round at Baltimore Convention Center, they claimed a player that, at the start of the long afternoon, they did not believe would be available.
That player was Andrew Jacobson, a 6-foot-2 midfielder from the University of California who had been projected to be chosen as high as 10th overall. His status might have slipped because of a minor injury he took with him to the MLS scouting combine in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., last weekend.
"We were pretty excited to see him fall that far," Coach Tom Soehn said. "He has a good soccer brain, he has good feet for a big guy and he's a strong, physical presence."
Jacobson earned Pacific-10 first-team honors his final three seasons and was named a first-team all-American last year. He finished with 11 goals and 13 assists in 83 career matches (62 starts).
"I can play both defensively and in the attack," he said. "I played more defensively for the last year, but feel I can play in either spot. I've learned a lot in college and think I've developed a pretty mature game that I can bring to United."
United also selected left-side midfielder Ryan Cordeiro from Connecticut in the third round and versatile midfielder Tony Schmitz of Creighton in the final round.
Chance Myers, a right back from UCLA, was chosen first overall by the Kansas City Wizards, followed by 17-year-old midfielder Brek Shea (Dallas) and UCLA defender Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake).
Projected to be a top-three selection, Virginia Tech forward Patrick Nyarko slid to No. 7 and was claimed by Chicago. With the Fire, Nyarko, a Ghanaian who left school a year early, will join Bakary Soumare, a fellow West African who signed early with MLS last year and counseled Nyarko last month on whether to turn pro. Also heading to Chicago is Maryland midfielder Stephen King, a third-round pick.
"I know they were talking about me going number one, but I didn't really pay attention to those," said Nyarko, the first forward selected. "I was just excited to end up wherever I did."
Nyarko's stock dropped as teams with the top picks angled for defensive players, including Beltran, who played in the Under-20 World Cup, and Columbus's Andy Iro, a 6-foot-5 Englishman who was among four players from 2006 NCAA champion UC Santa Barbara taken in the first three rounds.
While United bolstered its roster with yesterday's selections, the club continues to make progress securing veteran players and acquiring foreign players.
General Manager Dave Kasper said that the club has reached a new deal with team captain Jaime Moreno, MLS's all-time leading scorer who has played 11 of his 12 MLS seasons with United. The new contract was a compromise: In exchange for two guaranteed years, Moreno accepted a lower salary.
"Where he is in his career, he wanted security; it's important to him," Kasper said. "He had some good offers out there -- from Mexico, the Middle East. He's an important player that goes well beyond the playing field."
Kasper also said that midfield star Christian Gomez, whose contract has expired, must decide soon whether to accept the club's offer. "We need a quick decision," said Kasper, whose team will open training camp next weekend.
Meantime, United is on the verge of signing at least three players from South America. Club officials have declined to identify them, but sources familiar with the negotiations said they are Argentine forward Franco Niell, Colombian defender Gonzalo Mart¿nez and Peruvian goalkeeper Jos¿ Carvallo.
"We're all but done on several deals," Kasper said.