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Wizards Reload with Five Picks in 2004 MLS SuperDraft and Pick Up Veteran Defender

January 16, 2004 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Sporting Kansas City News Release

KANSAS CITY, MO (Friday, January 16, 2004) - Kansas City Wizards General Manager Curt Johnson and Head Coach Bob Gansler capped off a busy week that culminated with the 2004 MLS SuperDraft in Charlotte, North Carolina today. Kansas City came away with essentially three first round picks while addressing several needs through the middle of the field. After adding former first round pick Diego Walsh on Thursday, the Wizards acquired another former first round pick from the Dallas Burn in addition to the 4th overall selection in Friday morning's SuperDraft.

"We are very pleased with the draft," said Johnson. "We were able to address a number of needs that we have and the bottom line is we were able to get three first round picks - one that was drafted this year and two that were drafted last year in the first round."

"I thought we reached our overall objectives to a great extent," added Gansler. "We came into the draft wanting to improve in all areas. We felt we weren't in a situation where we had to redo everything and start anew. I thought it was just a matter of augmenting what we had and improving it just a little. We were only eight minutes from getting into the final (MLS Cup 2003) so we just needed to strengthen ourselves in all areas in order to get back to MLS Cup"

Kansas City traded their seventh overall selection in the draft to Dallas along with defender Carey Talley and midfielder Eric Quill in exchange for the 4th overall selection and defender Shavar Thomas. The Wizards will also receive a conditional pick in the 2005 MLS SuperDraft as part of the deal. Thomas, a 22-year-old native of Kingston, Jamaica, was a first round selection (10th overall) by the Burn in the 2003 MLS SuperDraft. He appeared in 15 matches last season, including 14 starts.

With the 4th overall pick, the Wizards selected forward Matt Taylor from UCLA, a true goal scorer who was named 2003 PAC-10 player of the year and led the Bruins in scoring each of the last two seasons. Taylor, 22, finished 2003 with 36 points (14g, 8a) while helping guide the Bruins to a 18-1-1 record in the regular season and to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament.

Kansas City used their natural second round choice, the 17th overall pick, to select goalkeeper William Hesmer from Wake Forest University. Hesmer posted a remarkable 0.77 GAA for the Demon Deacons and was named first-team NSCAA/adidas All-American despite playing in just 15 games as a senior.

The Wizards traded their only third round selection to D.C. United in exchange for United's natural 2nd and 3rd round picks in 2005, a move that secures valuable early round picks next season in a year in which MLS is expected to announce expansion and MLS teams could lose senior roster players in an expansion draft.

The final three rounds saw the Wizards select Yale midfielder Jay Alberts, a native of Sunset Hills, MO with the 37th overall pick, forward Justin Detter from Notre Dame with the 47th overall pick and defender/midfielder Ryan Barber from UMKC with the 48th overall pick. Alberts, 23, was a four-time All-Ivy League selection at Yale while Detter, 21, was named twice to the all-Big East team with Notre Dame. Barber, 22, hails from Raymore, Missouri and was named second-team all-Mid Continent Conference in 2003 and becomes the first ever UMKC player drafted by a MLS team.

"We added a young goalkeeper who has been the class of his college league the past couple years, we added a defender in Shavar Thomas who was a first round pick last year and we feel has the tools to make us better in the back in terms of defending and on the technical side of things," said Gansler. "We added Diego Walsh in a trade to augment our midfield and reinforce ourselves there. In Jay Alberts we added a wide player who can be a good assist man and we added Matt Taylor and Justin Detter up top to compliment our other forwards Josh (Wolff), Wolde (Harris) and Davy (Arnaud). In Taylor, we feel we got one of the top two forwards from the Combine. Detter worked well with Taylor at the Combine and was the assist man on most of Taylor's goals."

Wizards players will report for physicals on Monday, February 2nd and begin preparing for the 2004 season. Kansas City will kick off their ninth MLS campaign on Saturday, April 3rd when they host the defending Eastern Conference Champion Chicago Fire at Arrowhead Stadium at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets to the Wizards home opener are available by calling Ticketmaster at 816-931-3330 or online at www.ticketmaster.com.


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