Wrapping up a wild MLS Expansion Draft Day

Wrapping up a wild MLS Expansion Draft Day

MLS- Vancouver Whitecaps

Wrapping up a wild MLS Expansion Draft Day

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By JOSE M. ROMERO

A day that began with 10 expansion draft picks for the expansion Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps ended with seven of those 20 players traded to already established MLS clubs, Portland's promise of international signings and a conference call saboteur.

Call it MLS Madness.

The top two picks in the draft, attacking midfielder Dax McCarty from FC Dallas to Portland and winger Sanna Nyassi from the Seattle Sounders to Vancouver, were with their respective clubs for not even a full day. By late afternoon out West, McCarty was shipped to DC United for defender-midfielder Rodney Wallace and the lower of DCU's two fourth-round Superdraft picks in January 2011. And Nyassi, a tough loss for the Sounders because of how he'd come on late this past season, was dealt to MLS Cup champion Colorado for an international player slot.

Vancouver mirrored a Timbers move from Monday in which the Timbers acquired an international slot in exchange for allocation money, which both expansion sides are entitled to from the league in order to bolster their respective rosters. 

The Timbers will presumably use the international slot to sign a foreign central midfielder, and are looking to bring in two strikers from overseas. 

"We think we've found the perfect person. We're trying to acquire that individual now, and there's no need to hold on to Dax when we've already identified another player at that position," Timbers technical director Gavin Wilkinson said.  

After trading two more of their expansion picks, Anthony Wallace back to Colorado for allocation money and former San Jose midfielder Arturo Alvarez to Real Salt Lake for a second-round Superdraft pick, the Timbers were left with only one attacking player they selected, former RSL forward Robbie Findley. They used Wednesday's draft to load up on defenders and defensive midfielders, including Eric Brunner and Adam Moffat from Columbus, David Horst from RSL, the rights to Jonathan Bornstein from Chivas USA and Jordan Graye from DC United. 

The Timbers picked Bornstein, a U.S. national team player, on the premise that his deal with a Mexican club for this season might not work out, in which case Portland retains the defender's MLS rights. Findley, another USMNT veteran from the World Cup, is another question mark since he's considering going to Europe.

"I think it's a gamble worth taking, because we're talking about two young American national team players," coach John Spencer said.

"We needed one or two players out of the back," Wilkinson said. "Moffat is a box-to-box midfielder."

The Timbers already had established a base of scorers, three of their first four player signings being USSF Division II leading scorer Ryan Pore, runner-up Eddie Johnson and striker Bright Dike.

The Whitecaps sent four attacking players they chose on Wednesday to other teams. After Nyassi, they traded O'Brian White (Toronto FC) to Seattle and Alejandro Moreno (Philadelphia) and Alan Gordon (Chivas USA) to Chivas USA. Vancouver received allocation money for all but the Nyassi deal.

The Whitecaps ended the day with forward-midfielder Atiba Harris (FC Dallas), midfielders Nate Sturgis (Seattle), Shea Salinas (Philadelphia) and John Thorrington (Chicago), defender Jonathan Leathers (Sporting KC) and goalkeeper Joe Cannon (San Jose).

They join signed defender Jay DeMerit. 

"Obviously we were looking for technically talented players but in addition to that, what we were also looking for were players that demonstrated character, players that you can count on in adverse situations, and we were also looking for leadership as well," team president Bob Lenarduzzi said.

That was before a guy who claimed to be from "KHTK in Sacramento" asked a lewd question about a fictitious player named Don Geronimo. The caller interrupted the proceedings, demanding that his question be answered, and Whitecaps media relations staff halted the conference call.

The same character tried again in the Portland teleconference, but was disconnected immediately and the interviews with Wilkinson and Spencer continued.

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