RSL acquires two Fire veterans
Real Salt Lake General Manager Steve Pastorino and head coach John Ellinger announced Thursday the acquisition of forward Dipsy Selolwane and defender Evan Whitfield from the Chicago Fire in exchange for two MLS SuperDraft picks (a third-round 2005 selection and a second-round 2006 pick). The 2005 MLS SuperDraft will be held Friday, Jan. 14 in Baltimore.
"These two MLS veterans bring depth and experience to the Real Salt Lake roster," Pastorino said. "Selolwane is a proven finisher who has scored goals at every level. Whitfield is a player who can play several positions. His speed and overlapping runs will bolster our right side."
"I have followed both of these players since their collegiate days and I know they can both be standout players in Major League Soccer," Ellinger said. "The addition of both improves the depth of our roster and strengthens the competition for each spot in the starting 11, every time we take the field."
Selolwane, a Botswanan international who currently leads the African continent in scoring during World Cup Qualifying, forged his reputation in 2004 as a clutch contributor for the Chicago Fire, almost single-handedly lifting the Fire to its fourth Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final appearance. Selolwane notched game-winning goals in 1-0 Fire victories during both the quarterfinal and semifinal stages.
The Fire "super-sub" scored four points in League play in 2004, starting five games and making 19 appearances for the 2003 Eastern Conference Champions. Selolwane has 24 caps with Botswana's National Team since 1998 and has scored nine goals, including the game-winner in a 2-1 victory over Kenya in World Cup Qualifying on Oct. 9. He played one year at St. Louis University in 2001, blistering NCAA opponents with 25 goals in as many games.
Whitfield appeared in 23 of the Fire's 30 regular-season 2004 contests and became just the seventh player in Chicago history to appear in 100 Fire games on Sept. 25. Whitfield, who attended Duke University from 1995-1998, has played five MLS seasons, appearing in 103 games (starting 78), registering 18 points on three goals and 12 assists since making his debut with Chicago on March 25, 2000. The staunch outside defender contributed to the Fire's 2000 and 2003 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Championships and division titles in 2000, 2001 and 2003, as well as the club's first-ever MLS Supporters Shield in 2003.
Whitfield registered 17 points on one goal and 15 assists at Duke, before spending the second half of the 1998-99 European season with KAA Gent (Belgium). The 5'11", 155-lb. defender played for Ellinger as part of the U.S. Olympic team in Sydney, Australia in 2000, appearing in 11 matches for the U.S. U-23 National Team. The 27-year old was also a key player for the U.S. Under-20 teams at the 1997 World Championships in Malaysia and at the World University Games in Italy in 1997.
Prior to selecting Jamaican playmaker Andy Williams with the team's first pick in the November 19 MLS Expansion Draft, Real Salt Lake introduced Major League Soccer's all-time leading scorer Jason Kreis as the team's first-ever player. Real Salt Lake then acquired former Colorado Rapids defender Jeff Stewart from CD Chivas USA. With Kreis, Selolwane, Stewart, Whitfield and the 10 players selected in the Expansion Draft, Real Salt Lake has filled 14 of an available 28 roster spots for its inaugural season.
The remaining 14 players will join RSL in the form of trades, allocations, MLS SuperDraft picks (January 14, 2005) and discovery options. The league's 10th season will open with First Kick 2005 on Saturday, April 2, and the highly anticipated first game in the history of Real Salt Lake, which travels to New York to face the MetroStars at Giants Stadium at 5 p.m. MT.