Revs, Rapids restock rosters in MLS draftsPosted: Friday January 11, 2002 11:26 AM
Updated: Friday January 11, 2002 7:09 PM
ATLANTA (CNNSI.com) -- The New England Revolution claimed the league's leading scorers from the past two seasons to highlight the MLS Allocation and Dispersal Drafts on Friday.
The drafts were held following the league's decision on Tuesday to scale back from 12 to 10 clubs, dropping the Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny.
The Colorado Rapids selected defender Pablo Mastroeni, a player with a promising future on the U.S. National Team, with the first pick in the Allocation Draft. But New England, which held three of the nine picks in the Allocation Draft, and the second pick in the subsequent Dispersal Draft, finished the day with the makings of half an all-star lineup. The Revolution claimed striker Mamadou Diallo, the league's scoring champion two years ago, and midfielder Steve Ralston from Tampa Bay along with defender Carlos Llamosa, midfielder Jim Rooney and forward Alex Pineda Chacon from Miami.
The plight of Pineda Chacon in the draft demonstrated the challenges MLS coaches and general managers faced on short notice following the contraction announcement. Strict roster limitations and salary cap rules contributed to the reigning league MVP and scoring champion dropping all the way to the second pick of the second round of the Dispersal Draft. New England was apparently the only team with enough room in their salary budget to take on some of the top players available on Friday. The team dumped pricey senior international players Leonel Alvarez and Mauricio Wright, and sent William Sunsing on loan.
"The Revolution positioned themselves well with their offseason decisions to take advantage of an unfortunate situation," a league official said.
New England selected all-stars Diallo and Llamosa with the second and fifth selections in the Allocation Draft. Coach Fernando Clavijo furthered his club's makeover by using his third allocation pick (6th overall) to take Ralston, the league's all-time leader in minutes played.
"If you look at my roster we needed someone to score goals," Clavijo said. "We needed a central defender, a defensive midfielder and an outside player. We looked at the needs and we tried to fill them. Other teams were restricted by the amount of money they had available to them."
The MetroStars, who were not in the running for one of the nine Allocation picks, traded for the Colorado Rapids' fourth overall selection and used it to nab high-scoring Colombian forward Diego Serna. In addition to picking up the MetroStars' 16th and 29th overall 2002 SuperDraft picks in the trade, the Rapids also shored up their flank play with the addition of midfielder Mark Chung.
Colorado also traded defender Marcelo Balboa, a member of the team since the league began in 1996, to the MetroStars for the 34th overall pick in the SuperDraft.
"We really had to make drastic moves with the trade of Balboa to free up money," Rapids coach Tim Hankinson said.
The remaining Allocation selections were made by the Dallas Burn and MLS Cup finalists San Jose Earthquakes and Los Angeles Galaxy. The Burn bypassed some bigger names and opted for the rights to the first overall pick in February's 2002 SuperDraft, a spot formerly owned by the Tampa Bay Mutiny. Dallas also selected defensive midfielder Josh Keller and goalkeeper Jeff Cassar in the Dispersal Draft.
After swapping positions with the Galaxy and moving up a spot to No. 8, Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop added to an already potent striker corps with his selection of Project-40 forward Devin Barclay.
Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid then made Jamaican international Tyrone Marshall the last pick of the Allocation Draft, identifying a possible early replacement for the left back position vacated by veteran Paul Caligiuri, who retired at the end of the 2001 season.
Colorado added another talented winger with the first pick in the Dispersal Draft, bringing Chris Henderson back to Colorado from Miami. Henderson, who helped lead the Rapids to their MLS Cup appearance in 1997, won the league title with Kansas City in 2000 before joining the Fusion for a 2001 season in which the Miami club posted a league-best 16-5-5 record and fell one game short of reaching MLS Cup 2001.
Henderson's former Fusion teammate Preki also got a homecoming opportunity, as Kansas City selected the veteran midfielder in the second round of the Dispersal Draft.
"Preki has a huge amount of good soccer left in him," Wizards coach Bob Gansler said. "He had a great year with us in 2000 and an even better year last season. We welcome him back and he will serve us well. He knows the players here and we are pleased with what he can bring to the team."
The Wizards also traded Brandon Prideaux to D.C. United for Stephen Armstrong. United completed a second trade, sending forward Chris Albright to Los Angeles for SuperDraft picks.
Friday's drafts were held at the W Hotel in Midtown Manhattan as the result of Tuesday's announcement that the Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny ceased operations. All former Fusion and Mutiny players were placed into a pool for Friday's Allocations and subsequent Dispersal Drafts, along with the three first round 2002 SuperDraft picks held by Miami and Tampa Bay (Nos. 1, 3 and 10 overall).