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Galaxy Trades Califf to San Jose

Times Staff Writer

Continuing its extensive makeover, the Galaxy on Wednesday traded U.S. national team defender Danny Califf to the San Jose Earthquakes.

Califf, 25, was acquired by the Galaxy as a first-round selection (sixth overall) out of the University of Maryland in the 2000 Major League Soccer draft. He played 122 matches for Los Angeles, including 19 playoff games, and scored eight goals. In exchange for Califf, the Galaxy will receive a portion of one of the player allocations owed to the Earthquakes by MLS.

Califf was a starter on Galaxy teams that won the 2001 U.S. Open Cup and the 2002 MLS Cup.

Knee injuries last season and this spring have cut his playing time, however, and the recent arrival of Costa Rican national team defenders Michael Umana and Pablo Chinchilla placed his starting position in jeopardy.

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He is the third Galaxy player this year to be traded to San Jose, following forward Alejandro Moreno and defender Chris Aloisi in January.

Alexi Lalas, the Earthquakes’ president and general manager and a former teammate of Califf on the Galaxy, put his own unique spin on the move.

“As a defender, Danny brings a bark and a bite that sends forwards running home to Mom,” Lalas said. “As a person, he brings a personality that can make a mom come running to him.”

Califf, who started for the U.S. team that reached the semifinals of the 2000 Sydney Olympics and who has played 12 games for the national team, spent part of the off-season in Europe, trying out with Valarenga of the Norwegian league.

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Before Wednesday’s development, he was expected to join a European club when his MLS contract expires after the 2005 season.

“Let’s be very clear, we are disappointed to be trading Danny,” said Doug Hamilton, the Galaxy’s president and general manager. “However, based on his desire to play abroad, coupled with his contract expiring in nine months, we decided, as part of our long-term plans, to make a move now that would ensure us of receiving the greatest value in return.”

At San Jose, Califf rejoins not only Moreno and Aloisi, but three other former Galaxy players: Brian Ching, Brian Mullan and Craig Waibel.

“I’ve played with a lot of guys on the team, including the general manager,” Califf said. “They’re all quality people, and I’m excited to get up there and start playing.”

In other moves Wednesday, the Galaxy acquired a portion of an allocation as well as a youth international spot from FC Dallas in exchange for an allocation obtained by the Galaxy from Chivas USA this month.

The Galaxy also signed defender Ben Benditson and midfielders Mubarike “Mamba” Chisoni and Herculez Gomez as developmental players.

Chisoni, 23, from Zimbabwe via Coastal Carolina University, was the team’s fifth selection in January’s MLS draft. Benditson, 22, from Cal State Northridge, was picked in the first round of the supplemental draft. Gomez, 22, is a walk-on who had been on the Galaxy’s 2002 roster but was released.


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