Torres becomes center of L.A. rivalry

Aturo Torres was drafted first by Chivas USA.

Photo Credit: 
German Alegria/MLS

and intra-stadium -- rival, the Los Angeles Galaxy. He missed much of the 2003 season with a foot injury, but managed to get a shot in 2004.

A native of nearby Wilmington, Calif., Torres is a promising young attacking player who made 18 appearances and five starts this past season, notching his first MLS goal and two assists. Torres, who will turn 24 in December, said he was elated to be joining CD Chivas USA and becoming the next chapter of the institution's history.

"It's an honor, not just for me but for my family," Torres said. "We have Chivas fans in all of the family. It's great to be playing for a team that comes from the homeland of my parents. I can't wait for it to start."

With their second selection in the draft, the club selected Orlando Perez from the Chicago Fire, and with their fourth pick, they chose midfielder Francisco Gomez from the Kansas City Wizards. Perez, a 27-year-old defender who was born in California, is half Mexican and half Puerto Rican. He has played in the league for five years and will be going to his fourth team when he moves to Los Angeles. While playing for the MetroStars, D.C. United and Chicago Fire, Perez tallied two goals and one assist in 98 appearances.

Gomez is another Mexican-American who hails from California and is overjoyed to be able to pull on the team's red-and-white striped jersey in 2005.

"Being a Chivas fan, I can't wait to put on this jersey," Gomez said.

CD Chivas USA's fifth pick in Friday's draft was used to select another player with Mexican roots, 26-year-old Antonio de la Torre, who calls Guadalajara his hometown. Prior to joining MLS, de la Torre spent several years in Mexico's Primera and Primera "A" (second) divisions. He came through the youth system at Atlas, the intra-city rival of CD Guadalajara.

Rongen said he is proud of the fact that so many of his players next year -- including as many as nine who may come to CD Chivas USA from CD Guadalajara -- are knowledgeable about the history and tradition of the Chivas brand.

"What better story ... that these guys are talking about being proud of putting on their red and white jerseys," Rongen said. "They know what it means. There's 100 years of tradition, almost, right there that they are familiar with.

"Arturo Torres is talking about how his great-great-grandfather was a Chivas fan, so he has a family that has followed that team as soon as they were born."

CD Chivas USA went beyond sticking to tradition on Friday, also picking up several talented players whom Rongen expects will contribute significantly in 2005. With the third pick in the draft, the club selected Ezra Hendrickson of D.C. United. Hendrickson is a defender who has been used in the midfield. He has been known for his galloping runs downfield and his ability to get involved in the attack. In eight MLS seasons, Hendrickson has amassed 18 goals and 27 assists for 63 points.

The second half of CD Chivas USA's expansion draft was comprised of three attackers and two defenders. With the sixth pick, the club chose former Kansas City Wizards forward Matt Taylor, who was the fourth pick in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft. Taylor had trouble breaking into the Wizards' starting lineup, and will now try to break through in Los Angeles.

CD Chivas USA also chose attackers with the eighth (Jamil Walker of the San Jose Earthquakes) and ninth (Thiago Martins of D.C. United) picks in the draft. Walker made a splash in the 2003 playoffs but was barely used in the 2004 campaign, and Martins, after joining United late in 2003 after winning the A-League scoring title and MVP award, showed promise but was unable to take part in the 2004 season due to two knee injuries.

The two defenders the club selected in the second half of the draft were Craig Ziadie`from the MetroStars and Jeff Stewart from the Colorado Rapids. CD Chivas USA took Jamaican international Ziadie with the seventh pick and Stewart with their 10th and final selection.

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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