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FC Dallas Adds Colombian Defender Jair Benitez

July 22, 2009 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - FC Dallas News Release

FRISCO, Texas (Wednesday, July 22, 2009) - FC Dallas General Manager Michael Hitchcock announced today that the team has signed Colombian defender Jair Benitez. Benitez joins FC Dallas on loan from Deportivo Cali of Colombia's Primera División and will officially be added to the senior roster upon receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC). To make room for Benitez on the 24-man roster, FC Dallas today waived defender Michael Dello-Russo.

"Jair Benitez is going to be a very good addition for FC Dallas," said FCD Head Coach Schellas Hyndman. "He brings tremendous experience and athleticism to the left fullback position, one of the areas on our team that we had identified for improvement. In addition to being a good defender, Jair is a pure left-sided player that can get up and down the line, overlap and send in crosses."

Benitez is a left-sided defender who has appeared in 344 games and scored 19 goals during his professional career, which began in 1999 with Colombia's Envigado FC. While he has had stints with several clubs in Colombia and Argentina, Benitez has spent the majority of his career with Independiente Medellín, where he twice helped the club win Copa Mustang, Colombia's national tournament, in 2002 and 2004.

In 2006, Benitez joined Deportivo Cali, where he played 95 games and scored two goals before returning to Independiente Medellín on loan in 2009. As a member of Medellín this year, Benitez appeared in 17 total contests, including both the regular season and the South American club championship, Copa Libertadores. Additionally, the 30-year-old has earned seven caps with the Colombia national team, making appearances in World Cup Qualifying, the 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup and various friendlies in 2007.

Dello-Russo departs FC Dallas following three-and-a-half seasons with the club after being selected in the 4th round of the 2006 MLS SuperDraft. The University of Maryland product made 11 regular season appearances (four starts) for Dallas as both a wide defender and midfielder.

Jair Benitez Professional Career:

1999: Envigado FC (Colombia)

2000: Independiente Santa Fe (Colombia)

2001: Envigado FC / Independiente Medellín (Colombia)

2002-2003: Independiente Medellín / Deportivo Pereira (Colombia)

2003-2004: Colon (Argentina)

2004-2005: Independiente Medellín (Colombia)

2006-2008: Deportivo Cali (Colombia)

2009: Independiente Medellín (Colombia)

Name: Jair Benitez

Pronunciation: Hah-EER Ben-EE-tez

Number: 5

Height: 5'7''

Weight: 145

DOB: January 11, 1979

Birthplace: Jamundi, Colombia

Hometown: Jamundi, Colombia

Last Club: Independiente Medellín (Colombia)

Nationality: Colombia

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