Crew Drafts Walsh out of SMU

January 17, 2003 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Columbus Crew SC News Release

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Columbus Crew drafted four players and traded for one today in the six-round 2003 MLS SuperDraft held at the Kansas City Convention Center.

The Crew drafted SMU midfielder Diego Walsh (1st round, 7th overall), Auburn University-Montgomery forward Michael Ritch (4th round, 37th overall), Rutgers defender/midfielder Guy Abrahamson (5th round, 47th overall) and Ohio State defender Jake Traeger (6th round, 58th overall). The Crew traded its second round pick (17th overall) to the MetroStars in exchange for Project-40 and U.S. Under-23 National Team defender Nelson Akwari (Pronounced: a-QUAREE) and the Metros second round pick in 2004. Columbus also traded its third round pick (27th overall) to Colorado for Colorado's third round pick in 2004 and this years sixth-round pick in which they took Traeger.

DIEGO WALSH, Midfielder (Southern Methodist) - First Round, 7th Overall
With their first round pick, seventh overall, The Crew selected Brazilian midfielder Diego Walsh out of Southern Methodist University. The 23-year-old is a transitional international and doesn't count against the teams three foreign players.

The 6-0, 180-pound Walsh was a two-time first-team All-American selection as well as a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy as a senior, which goes to the best player in college soccer.

Walsh, who moved to Miami from Brazil in 1994 when he was 14, is the career assists leader at SMU with 39, while finishing his college career ranked fourth all-time in points (117) and fifth all-time in goals (39) for the Mustangs. He was the Missouri Valley Conference player of the year as a junior and senior. Walsh was also a two-time Academic All-American.

"I couldn't ask for a better situation," said Walsh. "I am going to a great team, with a great stadium, and a great coaching staff. I am extremely happy and want to come in and try to make an impact. I will also be playing again with my best friend (former SMU teammate) Luchi Gonzalez."

NELSON AKWARI, Defender (UCLA) - The Crew traded its 2003 second round pick (17th overall) to the MetroStars in exchange for Akwari and the MetroStars second round pick in 2004.

Akwari is a member of the U.S. Under-23 national team who joined the MetroStars in August of last season after signing a Project-40 contract with MLS. The 5-11, 180-poound Akwari appeared in seven games for the MetroStars, starting three. He left UCLA after his sophomore year after starting his first two seasons and earning second team All-Pac 10 and All-West honors. Akwari has also been a member of the Under-20 and Under-17 National Teams.

The Crew traded its 2003 third round pick (27th overall) to the Colorado Rapids for their 2004 third round pick and Colorado's 2003 sixth round pick (58th overall)

MICHAEL RITCH, Forward (Auburn Univ. - Montgomery) - Fourth Round, 37th Overall
Ritch was an NAIA First-Team All-American at Auburn-Montgomery in 2002 and a second-team All-American in 2001. The 6-3 forward is an imposing force up front and has scored 64 goals in his career and assisted on 48.

GUY ABRAHAMSON, Defender/Midfielder (Rutgers) - Fifth Round, 47th Overall
Abrahamson was a two-time All-American pick, garnering third-team honors as a senior and second team laurels as a junior. The 5-10, 165-pounder was a first-team All- Big East selection both as a sophomore and junior and a second-team pick as a senior. He has also seen action with the Under-20 and Under-18 national teams.

JAKE TRAEGER, Defender (Ohio State) - Sixth Round, 58th Overall Traeger is very familiar to The Crew coaching staff having played four years in Columbus for the Buckeyes. He captured first team All-Big Ten honors as a senior as well as first team All-Ohio honors. The Colorado native was also an All-Great Lakes Region second team selection as a senior.

Traeger's career highlight at OSU came his sophomore season in the Big Ten Tournament championship game when he scored the game-winning goal in overtime to give the Buckeyes a 3-2 win over Penn State and their first-ever Big Ten title.

Quoting Crew Head Coach Greg Andrulis

"We are very happy with how the draft went today. Diego is a fabulous player and was the best player available when we picked at seven. He is very talented and excels with the ball at his feet. We were very happy he was there when we picked."

"Nelson has been successful at all levels. When we knew he was available from the MetroStars we felt it was a good opportunity to add a Project-40 player and a player who has a tremendous upside."

"Michael is a player who I saw at the NAIA national championship and I was very impressed with. He will have a chance to come in and compete just like Guy and Jake. And of course we know what Jake brings to the table. We have seen him develop over the past four years at Ohio State and will get an even closer look when he joins up at camp."

PLAYER PROFILES

DIEGO WALSH
First round draft pick (7th Overall)
Position: Midfielder College: Southern Methodist Univ.
Date of Birth: Dec. 8, 1979 High School: Miami Killian Senior
Height: 6-0 Weight: 180
Hometown: Miami, Fla.

NELSON AKWARI (Pronounced: a-QUAREE)
The Crew traded its 2003 second round pick (17th overall) to the MetroStars in exchange for Akwari and the Metros second round pick in 2004. 2002 Team: MetroStars
Position: Defender College: UCLA
Date of Birth: Feb. 4, 1982 High School: Strake Jesuit College Prep
Height: 5-11 Weight: 180
Hometown: Houston, Tex.

The Crew traded its 2003 third round pick (27th overall) to the Colorado Rapids for their 2004 third round pick and Colorado's 2003 sixth round pick (58th overall)

MICHAEL RITCH
Position: Forward College: Auburn University - Montgomery
Date of Birth: April 26, 1981 Hometown: Tallassee, Ala.
Height: 6-3 Weight: 190

GUY ABRAHAMSON
Position: Defender/Midfielder College: Rutgers
Date of Birth: Jan. 3, 1981 High School: St. Benedict's Prep
Height: 5-10 Weight: 165
Hometown: Livingston, NJ

JAKE TRAEGER
Position: Defender College: Ohio State University
Date of Birth: April 16, 1980 High School: Heritage
Height: 5-11 Weight: 165
Hometown: Littleton, Colo.


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