McBride Is Chosen First in No-Name Soccer Draft

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ever heard of Brian McBride?

Unless you're an avid soccer fan-- really avid-- the chances are slim.

That pretty much sums up the way Major League Soccer's draft went Tuesday, when 80 players were selected to join 40 of their more illustrious colleagues in the fledgling league that starts play April 6.

Like most first drafts, this one needed a rewrite.

There would have been a lot more excitement had MLS not already assigned its "name" players to the 10 teams.

As a result, those attending the draft in New York were left to ooh and aah over players who are hardly household names.

Such as McBride.

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound, two-time All-American forward from St Louis University was the first player chosen, instantly becoming the answer to a trivia question.

His selection typified a day during which Americans dominated the draft. Of the 80 players chosen, only six were foreign. The league will limit teams to four foreign starters, so coaches have sought to identify and assess the native talent.

Lothar Osiander, coach of the Los Angeles Galaxy, did his homework well enough to land several more recognizable players, among them Robin Fraser, Jorge Salcedo and Curt Onalfo, all of whom have U.S. national or Olympic team experience.

"We did a great job in the draft," Osiander said. "We have key positions that we filled, and we still have eight choices left for tomorrow.

"Fraser has outstanding speed. If [goalkeeper Jorge] Campos gets caught out of position, I think [Fraser] can catch most anybody.

"Salcedo is a quality player who played for UCLA [starring on the Bruins' 1990 NCAA championship team]. I think he'll be outstanding for us, either as a defensive midfielder or in the sweeper position.

"Onalfo played for me on the '92 Olympic team. He's playing in Mexico right now. I've looked forward to having him on my team ever since Barcelona."

Besides that trio, the Galaxy drafted David Kramer, a 6-3 goalkeeper from Fresno State; John Garvey, a forward from Maryland; Mark Semioli, a midfielder-defender from Stanford, and Joey Kirk, a forward from Cal State Northridge.

They will join the Galaxy's four assigned players--Campos, defender Dan Calichman, midfielder Mauricio Cienfuegos of El Salvador and forward Eduardo Hurtado of Ecuador--when training camp opens March 1.

Among other draft highlights:

--Eight goalkeepers, 27 defenders, 20 midfielders and 25 forwards were selected.

--Of the 80 players taken in the first eight rounds--another eight rounds will be held today--18 are from California.

--Mark Dougherty, a 28-year-old from Cupertino, Calif., who led Fresno State to the NCAA final four as a freshman, became the first goalkeeper drafted when he was selected in the first round, as the seventh pick overall, by the Tampa Bay Mutiny.

--Fraser, 29, picked first by the Galaxy and fourth overall, was the first defender drafted. The sweeper, an All-American from Florida International University, played 12 games for the U.S. national team from 1989-91.

--Mark Chung, 25, another former national team player who narrowly failed to make the 1994 U.S. World Cup team, was the highest-drafted midfielder. He is from the University of South Florida and was the first pick in last year's Continental Indoor Soccer League draft.

--McBride was the first forward selected, the choice an automatic one, according to Columbus assistant Tom Fitzgerald.

"As soon as we found out we were going to get the first pick, there was no doubt in our minds that Brian was going to be the player we selected," Fitzgerald said. "I've coached him with the U.S. national B team for 2 1/2 years, and I believe he is a superstar waiting to explode. He is an excellent goal scorer."

McBride spent last season playing for VfL Wolfsburg in the German second division. MLS may or may not be a step up.

As a footnote to Monday's proceedings, there were a couple of asterisks alongside the name of defender Michael Clark, the first player picked in the fourth round.

"**Previously listed as Tommy Clark," the correction noted.

Maybe he was just trying to avoid the draft.

First-Round Draft Picks

No.Player: (Po.) Team

1. Brian McBride: (F) Columbus

2. Jean Harbor: (F) Colorado

3. Ted Eck: (F) Dallas

4. Robin Fraser: (D) L.A. Galaxy

5. Iain Fraser: (D) New England

6. Mark Chung: (M) Kansas City

7. Mark Dougherty: (G) Tampa Bay

8. Paul Bravo: (M) San Jose

9. Matt Knowles: (D) N.Y./New Jersey

10. Raul Diaz Arce: (F) Washington D.C.

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