All-American forward Chris Albright has left the University of Virginia men's soccer program with two years of eligibility remaining to sign with Major League Soccer.
He will be assigned to a club Friday, and it appears he's headed to the Los Angeles Galaxy. MLS Commissioner Doug Logan declined to explain how the league will decide where to send Albright, but said he's going through a process that's fair to every team.
Under MLS's single-entity structure, the league owns all player contracts and attempts to equally distribute talent to its 12 teams.
Albright, 20, had indicated his interest in a pro career earlier this year when he was a member of the U.S. under-20 national team. He played in all four U.S. matches, starting three, at the world youth championship in Nigeria.
His signing, first reported by ESPN, is believed to be the first of many commitments to MLS by U.S. youth players in the next six months. Several from the under-17 national team are considering signing with MLS following the team's world championship tournament this fall.
Albright had 31 goals and 10 assists in two seasons at Virginia, including 20 last year as the Cavaliers advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals for the 10th time in 11 years. In addition to the under-20 squad, Albright was invited to senior national team training camp by U.S. Coach Bruce Arena prior to its match against Argentina last month. Although he didn't play, Albright figures to be in Arena's long-range plans.
D.C. United has inherited several Virginia stars in the last four years, but is unlikely to get Albright because of the club's already talented roster. MLS also announced a player development agreement with Tahuichi Academy, the prestigious Bolivian soccer school that produced United's Marco Etcheverry and Jaime Moreno. MLS will acquire three young players a year. The first to sign is 16-year-old Joselito Vaca, a member of Bolivia's youth national teams who probably will not come to MLS until 2001.
In an unrelated announcement yesterday, the governing body for soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean said United will defend its CONCACAF Champions Cup title in Las Vegas, Sept. 28-Oct. 3. This year's winner from the eight-team field will join Manchester United and other international powers at the inaugural world club championship in Brazil in January.
Soccer Notes: United defender Eddie Pope (knee) and former D.C. midfielder Tony Sanneh (hamstring) did not go to Denver for U.S. national team training camp because of injuries. . . . The New York/New Jersey MetroStars filled their fourth foreign player slot by acquiring Colombian national team forward Henry Zambrano, 25, from Atletico Nacional of Medellin.