Chivas USA and the Galaxy spring two South American surprises in the MLS draft
Chivas USA and the Galaxy both sprung South American surprises in Thursday's Major League Soccer SuperDraft by using their first-round selections to pick up players from Ecuador and Uruguay, respectively.
After taking U.S. under-20 national team defender Zarek Valentin with its first pick and the fourth overall selection in the draft, new Chivas USA Coach Robin Fraser acquired the No. 14 pick in a trade with his former club, Real Salt Lake, and used it to pick forward Victor Estupinan, previously with LDU Quito in Ecuador.
Fraser sent allocation money to Real Salt Lake in order to land the 22-year-old, who was the leading goal scorer for Quito's reserve team last season.
Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena, after making a trade with FC Toronto to acquire former UCLA forward Chad Barrett, used its top pick, No. 16 in the three-round, 54-player draft, to select midfielder Paolo Cardozo, a 21-year-old from Montevideo who has been playing for Quilmes AC in the Argentine second division.
Chivas USA, which finished with the second-worst record in MLS last season behind D.C. United, normally would have had the No. 2 pick as a result, but the addition of the Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers to the league gave those expansion teams the top two picks.
Vancouver used the No. 1 pick to select 17-year-old forward Omar Salgado, who used to play in the youth system of Chivas de Guadalajara. Portland made University of Akron forward Darlington Nagbe its top pick with the No. 2 selection. In all, five Akron players were among the first eight players chosen, including Chivas USA's Valentin.
Midfielder Perry Kitchen, the captain of the U.S. under-20 national team and a player widely regarded as a likely No. 1 pick, along with Nagbe, was snapped up by D.C. United at No. 3.
For complete coverage of Thursday's draft, including reaction from Fraser and Arena, please see www.latimes.com/sports/soccer later today.
-- Grahame L. Jones
Photo: Fourth selection Zarek Valentin of Chivas USA poses for a photo with coaches and front office staff on Jan. 13 at the Baltimore Convention Center. Credit: Ned Dishman / Getty Images.