The myth that CD Chivas USA would ignore the best English-speaking American talent was obliterated early in the 2005 MLS SuperDraft as head coach Thomas Rongen selected South Carolina goalkeeper Brad Guzan with the team's top pick, the second overall.
"I'm excited, that's the first word that comes to mind," said Guzan. "I'm looking forward to meeting my new teammates, the coaching staff and I can't get wait to get out there and get things underway.
"It's a big honor [to be the highest-ever drafted goalkeeper in MLS history] and I know a lot of players have come before me and ... set the bar. I just hope that I can follow and have the success that many of them have had and hopefully everything will work out."
As a sophomore for the national powerhouse Gamecocks in 2004, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Guzan served as team captain, garnered second-team NSCAA All-America honors and had a miniscule 1.34 goals-against average. He also posted five shutouts to go along with his 104 saves, the third-most number of saves ever in a single season at South Carolina.
Guzan also has some experience in Major League Soccer. Playing for the Chicago Fire reserves in the PDL during the summer of 2004, Guzan led the PDF with eight clean sheets, an 0.39 goals against average and 13 wins. Those achievements earned him All-League and All-Central Conference platitudes.
"I know that they have a goalkeeper there right now and hopefully I can go in and play how I know how to play and see what happens," Guzan said. "Nothing is going to be given to me. I'm going to go in and work for everything that I get and hopefully it will all work out."
Chivas USA moved to help the midfield with their second pick (No. 14) and second in the second round, by selecting Christian Jimenez, a 5-foot-10 midfielder from the University of South Florida. In addition to being a member of the U.S. U-18 team, Jimenez is also a member of the 2003 NSCAA Youth All-America team and was rated the No. 14 recruit in the nation by Soccer America coming out of high school.
The final two picks by Los Rojiblancos focused on the defensive end of the field. In the third round, Rongen made the call to Hermann Trophy semifinalist, and All-Pac-10 First Team member, Aaron Lopez from UCLA. A physical and fast-paced defender, Lopez actually trained with FMF club Necaxa for two weeks in 2003.
Rongen's final pick, in the fourth round, won't need a lot of time to develop a love for the stripes of Chivas USA. Esteban "Steve" Arias's family is all from Mexico and the 5-foot-10 defender is a die-hard Chivas de Guadalajara supporter.
Danny Polinsky is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.