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Three called into Rapids training

and a dream. The Boston native is one of three players vying for a developmental player contract with the Colorado Rapids.

"Five days ago I was working for an outdoor company in Utah, so when I found out about the tryout, I packed my bags and came over here [to Colorado]," Cardenas said Tuesday. "It also helped that I had some family in the area."

Cardenas' journey started on Sunday, when a mixture of players from across the globe converged at the Rapids' training facility in Westminster, Colo., for the tryout, with the field narrowed down through three rounds of cuts.

All 170 players took part in five 12-minute mini-games and, after the first cut, the remaining hopefuls played two 35-minute full-field matches. The Rapids coaching staff made another cut, and the remaining 22 players contested one final match. From there, the field was whittled down to six players who were invited to train with the Rapids in Colorado on Monday with the potential to be taken along on the club's preseason training trip to Birmingham, Ala.

The 24-year-old Cardenas is one of the lucky three to earn the trip to Birmingham -- forward Boubacar Doumbouya and midfielder Joshua Elbaum are the others -- while attackers Lance Snodgrass, Marquis Muse and Stephen Keel didn't make the cut after taking part in training on Monday.

Cardenas, who was the only goalkeeper to be invited to the Monday session, was somewhat surprised by the outcome of the tryouts. Though he has played professionally with SK Ceske Budejovice of the Czech First Division and the Western Mass Pioneers of the USL Second Division (third level), this is his first taste of top-level soccer in some time.

"I wasn't expecting a lot out of the tryouts," he said. "It has been a while since I've been playing in a competitive environment so I just figure to go out there and give my best to see where the chips fall."

Elbaum, 23, also has professional experience, having played for the Major Indoor Soccer League's San Diego Sockers in 2004. Doumbouya, a 20-year-old native of Mali who now calls Aurora, Colo., home, has played for Denver Soccer Club's "A" team for four years.

Now that they have earned a spot on the Rapids' southern road trip, the players are under pressure to win a developmental contract. All three are expected to be on the roster for the Rapids' preseason exhibition Saturday against the Chicago Fire.

"The main goal is definitely to try to land a professional contract with the team," Cardenas said. "If that is not the case, I just want to get better. The pace of the game here is unbelievable; people do not realize how different this level is. The shots are so much faster and stronger than at the college level and any outdoor recreational league out there."

Rapids notes: The club has acquired Uruguayan midfielder Martin Morales and the rights to striker Luchi Gonzalez from the Columbus Crew in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2007 Supplemental Draft. Morales, who will count as a senior international, is a 26-year-old midfielder and a former Uruguayan youth international. He is awaiting visa approval from the U.S. government prior to officially joining the club.

Gonzalez, a former U.S. youth international, was originally drafted by the San Jose Earthquakes in 2002. In 2004, Gonzalez played with Peruvian Primera Division power Sporting Cristal, which advanced to the second round of South America's Copa Libertadores. The striker won the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy as the top NCAA Division I soccer player in 2001 while with Southern Methodist University.

Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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