Crew land Szetela in draft lottery
NEW YORK - After several months spent contemplating a move across the ocean, it appears - for now - that Danny Szetela will be making his home in Ohio.
The 17-year-old midfielder from Clifton, N.J. was allocated to the Columbus Crew Thursday in a weighted lottery at the ESPN Zone restaurant in New York's Times Square.
"I'm happy. I'm hoping to start my career, to become a star in the U.S. and to help make soccer bigger here," said Szetela.
In front of a live national television audience, the fate of the coveted U.S. youth international - signed last week to a multi-year contract by Major League Soccer - was decided when MLS commissioner Don Garber pulled the Crew's number out of a metal hopper containing 1,000 numbered ping-pong balls.
However, the prospect of a trade hovered over the proceedings, as Szetela said on national television that he had heard that MetroStars were interested in striking a deal with the Midwestern club.
"I heard that Columbus may be willing to make a trade, hopefully to the MetroStars," Szetela told ESPNews.
Szetela's comments were substantiated by Garber.
"I know the MetroStars have checked with other teams," said the MLS commissioner. "I'm sure there will be lots of teams on the phone in the next few hours."
For the lottery, MLS clubs were allocated a specific number of balls based on their performance in their last 30 regular-season games and their success in last season's playoffs.
Szetela, whose play during the USA's fifth-place run at the Under-17 World Championship last August sparked interest from English Premiership clubs Everton and Manchester City, follows in the footsteps of national teammates Freddy Adu (D.C. United), Eddie Gaven (MetroStars) and Guillermo 'Memo' Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy) who have excelled since joining America's top-flight professional league.
On paper, Dallas (26.2 percent), Columbus (21.1 percent) and MetroStars (16.6 percent) entered the lottery with the greatest chance of landing the versatile central midfielder, while Kansas City (2.3 percent), Chicago (1.2 percent) and reigning MLS Cup champion San Jose (0.6 percent) were longshots.
Keegan Pierce is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.