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Wizards Draft Six Players Including Armenian Striker Yura Movsisyan

January 20, 2006 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Sporting Kansas City News Release

KANSAS CITY, MO (Monday, January 16, 2006) - The Kansas City Wizards drafted six players in today's MLS SuperDraft that took place in Philadelphia, including Armenian forward Yura Movsisyan (pronounced: mov-SIS-e-an) with the 4th overall pick. The team also selected midfielder Lance Watson from New Mexico, defender Tyson Wahl from California, midfielder Matt Groenwald from St. John's, defender/midfielder Stephen Shirley from Virginia Commonwealth and goalkeeper Eric Kronberg from California.

"We tried to reinforce various parts of the field and we feel with Movsisyan we got the most impressive player from the MLS Combine," said Head Coach Bob Gansler. "He is mature beyond his years in terms of playing soccer. I see nothing but good things coming from him, not only long term but now. I told him we didn't draft him to watch."

Movsisyan, an 18-year-old from Pasadena City College was born in Baku, Azerbaijan, but is of Armenian heritage. He fled his native country with his family when he was 12 and currently calls Pasadena, California his home. Movsisyan picked up the game of soccer at a young age, but never played on an organized team until he came to the United States in 2000.

In the short time Movsisyan has been in this country, he has developed into a prolific goal scorer. As a senior at Pasadena High School, he scored 32 goals in just 13 games. He then enrolled at Pasadena City College where he notched 18 goals in 18 games before signing with Major League Soccer and declaring himself eligible for the 2006 MLS SuperDraft.

The Wizards used their two 2nd round picks to select New Mexico midfielder Lance Watson (16th overall) and defender Tyson Wahl (19th overall). Watson, a 22-year-old native of Nederland, TX joins the Wizards following a standout career at the University of New Mexico. The versatile midfielder led the Lobos in assists in 2005 with nine and finished his four-year career with 22 assists, second all-time in school history. He helped guide the Lobos to an 18-2-3 record and a berth in the NCAA Championship match and was also a first team NSCAA All-American.

"Watson worked out with us this summer and I have scouted him at New Mexico," added Gansler. "I think he is an extremely versatile guy who can play in the midfield on both sides and even defensively in the midfield. The impression we got from him last summer was important because he played with and competed with our guys."

Wahl, 21, was an All-American defender at the University of California where he started every game during his four-year career. He anchored the Golden Bears defense to a 15-4-2 record in 2005 and into the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament. He has also been involved with the U.S. U-20 and U-17 National Teams and played in the U-17 World Youth Championships in 2001.

"We have known about Tyson for quite some time," said Gansler. "He was raised in the Irvine Strikers system under a former player of mine who swears by him. We have watched him in the NCAA quarterfinals, the combine and when he was in the residency program. He is a strong central defender, strong with the ball and left footed."

With back-to-back picks in the 3rd round, Kansas City selected midfielder Matt Groenwald from St. John's (28th overall) and defender/midfielder Stephen Shirley from Virginia Commonwealth (29th overall). Groenwald, 22, finished his career with 15 goals and 22 assists, including a team-leading 17 points in 2005. He was a three-time All-BIG EAST selection and a semifinalist for the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy in each of his last two seasons. Shirley, 22, was born in Scotland and holds dual citizenship. He was a three-year starter, moving from defense to midfield in 2005 and helped the Rams earn a pair of CAA regular-season titles and two NCAA Tournament appearances.

The Wizards final pick of the day was California goalkeeper Eric Kronberg with the 40th overall selection. Kronberg, a physical presence at 6'5", 210 pounds, posted a 0.55 GAA for the Golden Bears last season in leading them to the Quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament. He owns a career 0.89 GAA in two seasons at California and two at Fresno State.

"Just his physical presence scares the you-know-what out of you," Gansler quipped. "We got him to get the competitive juices flowing between him and Bo (Oshoniyi) and Will (Hesmer). I thought at the Combine, he was the most impressive goalkeeper there."

The Wizards will report for physicals on Tuesday, January 31st and begin preseason training on Wednesday, February 1st. The 2006 MLS regular season will kickoff on Saturday, April 1st when the Wizards host Eastern Conference rivals the Columbus Crew at Arrowhead Stadium. The Wizards complete 2006 schedule is expected to be released later this month.

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