Galaxy, Chivas both address needs in MLS SuperDraft
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The Galaxy has already lost a starting midfielder and a star defender this off-season. So guess what they went after in Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft?
Choosing last in both rounds of the two-round draft, General Manager and Coach Bruce Arena selected Indiana defender Tommy Meyer with his first pick and Louisville midfielder Kenney Walker with his second. And while Arena isn’t expecting either player to fill the voids created when midfielder Juninho decided to return to his native Brazil and MLS Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez torn ligaments in his knee, the Galaxy are hoping Meyer and Walker will give the roster additional depth.
A four-year starter at Indiana, Meyer was an all-conference selection last season and is the first defender taken by the Galaxy in the opening round of the SuperDraft since 2009 -- when the team choose Gonzalez, who went on to win Rookie of the Year honors.
‘He’s a player that has a good profile to be a center back in this league,’ Arena said of Meyer. ‘He has physical size, he’s a good header of the ball, a good defender and a decent passer. Once we get him into our setting we can learn a little bit more and work with him and try to make him better.’
Walker, the 38th and final player taken Thursday, is a defensive midfielder who had a career-high five goals in 23 games last season, leading the Cardinals to the NCAA quarterfinals.
‘He had a very good combine,’ Arena said. ‘He is ... an aggressive type of player and a good passer.’
Chivas USA had just one pick in Thursday’s draft and used it on 22-yeear-old Maryland forward Casey Townsend, who Coach Robin Fraser hopes can make an immediate impact on the front line. “The kid is unbelievably competitive,” Fraser said of Townsend, wo scored 17 goals in 21 games as a senior. ‘It’s all about his attitude. He is a very good finisher, has a good nose for the goal and he completely fits into what it is we are trying to do here.’
Two players from UCLA and two others from UC Santa Barbara were among the draft’s first 13 selections. Bruins midfielder Kelyn Rowe went to the New England Revolution with the third pick while forward Chandler Hoffman was taken 13th by the Philadelphia Union. Santa Barbara’s Luis Silva, a senior forward from Salesian High, went fourth to Toronto while Gauchos teammate Sam Garza, also a forward, went to San Jose two picks later.
The MLS will hold a four-round supplemental draft Tuesday.
Elsewhere, the Galaxy confirmed that forward Robbie Keane will be joining Aston Villa of the English Premier League. He could make his first appearance this weekend against Everton and Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan.
Keane will be eligible to appear in as many as eight games for Aston Villa before returning to the Galaxy ahead of the team’s March 7 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal in Toronto.
Meanwhile Gonzalez, who torn his ACL training with Nuremberg in Germany’s Bundesliga, is scheduled to undergo surgery Friday. The Galaxy expect Gonzalez to miss most of the 2012 season.
-- Kevin Baxter