Dan Califf, a sophomore defender for the Maryland men's soccer team, will forgo his final two seasons of collegiate eligibility to turn pro, Major League Soccer announced yesterday. Califf will enter MLS's Project-40 developmental program and be eligible for the draft Feb. 6.

"It was a very difficult decision to leave, but I felt it was time for me to move on and pursue my dream," said Califf, who was a National Soccer Coaches Association of America third-team all-American this past season and will become the third Maryland nonsenior to join Project-40 in the past three years, joining D.C. United defender Judah Cooks and Tampa Bay Mutiny goalkeeper Andy Kirk.

Califf, who is from Orange, Calif., had three goals and three assists in his two seasons at Maryland. He has made 25 appearances for the U.S. under-20 national team and is in the player pool for the under-23 national team, which forms the backbone of the U.S. Olympic squad.

"We expect to have more of his peers signing in the near future," MLS spokesman Trey Fitz-Gerald said.

D.C. United Coach Thomas Rongen said of Califf's draft prospects: "It all depends on the needs of particular teams. Califf is a very good player. Where does he fit into the scheme? My own personal opinion is that he will go high."

Califf is the second area player to sign with MLS in recent months, joining Cooks's younger brother, Micah.