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Seattle makes Steve Zakuani first pick in MLS draft

January 15, 2009 | 11:44 am

The Seattle Sounders on Thursday made University of Akron forward Steve Zakuani the top pick in the Major League Soccer draft.

Zakuani, who was born in the Congo but raised in Britain, led the nation in scoring with 20 goals and seven assists in 23 games in 2008 and was a finalist for the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy, awarded to collegiate soccer's top player.

Before coming to the U.S., Zakuani, 20, played with the youth teams of the English Premier League club Arsenal from 1997 to 2003.

"I heard a few things a couple of weeks ago, but up until the last second, I had no idea," Zakuani said of being the No. 1 pick. "It's a great honor, and I'm so excited. I'm ready. I'm going to go in there, train hard, catch up to the level of play and hopefully contribute right away."

Seattle is coached by former UCLA and Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid. who led the Columbus Crew to the MLS title last season.

"I would have gone with a defender, but Sigi's a lot smarter than I am," former Galaxy player and general manager Alexi Lalas said on ESPN2, which is televising the first hour of the draft.

-- Grahame L. Jones

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