COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Columbus Crew announced today the signings of Chilean central defender Marcos Gonzalez and British defender Joel Kitamirike.
Both deals are pending approval of their work permits. Per team and league policy, no terms of the deals were disclosed. Gonzalez, 25, will be classified as a Senior International and Kitamirike, 21, a Youth International.
Gonzalez is a 6-2 central defender who will be looked at to replace the retired Robin Fraser. He has made five full appearances with the Chilean national team, and has played in the Chilean First Division (Palestino, 2005; Universidad de Chile, 1999-2003) and the Argentine First Division (Colon de Santa Fe, 2003-2005).
"We are very excited to sign Marcos," said Schmid. "He was heavily pursued by Universidad Catolica as their primary target for the upcoming Copa Libertadores but chose to join The Crew. We were looking for a central defender to replace Robin (Fraser) and to continue to help with the development of Chad Marshall and we found that in Gonazalez. He has some great experience but is a young player who should have many good years ahead of him in this league."
Kitamirike, 6-0, was born in Uganda but moved to England when he was four and was in the Chelsea youth system from 2001-2004. He played with Dundee of the Scottish First Division from 2004-2005.
"Joel is a versatile defender who was here for our mini-camp in November," said Schmid. "He can play centrally or on the right and is a young player with great potential."
"One of our key philosophies to being consistently competitive in MLS is to make the most out of our international roster positions, particularly our senior international positions," said McCullers. "There is no doubt that our international options have increased dramatically because of our scouting and because of the management of our resources. Our coaches did a masterful job maneuvering to acquire these two players in the midst of stiff competition and within our financial parameters."
The Crew is continuing preparations for the upcoming MLS SuperDraft. The Crew contingent will be attending the adidas MLS Player Combine on January 12-15 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, California. The combine concludes five days before the draft.
The 2006 MLS SuperDraft will then be held on January 20 in Philadelphia, in conjunction with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Convention at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
The Crew owns three picks in the four-round draft (12 picks per round), including two picks in the first round, the third and ninth picks. Columbus also has the 27th overall pick, which is the third pick in the third round.
The Crew obtained their second first-round pick in exchange for sending Jeff Cunningham to Colorado on January 14, 2005. Columbus does not have a second-round pick after sending their natural second-round pick to FC Dallas for Cornell Glen on April 26, 2005, who has since been traded to Colorado for defender Ritchie Kotschau. The Crew does not have a fourth-round pick after a January, 24, 2004 trade with D.C. to acquire Devin Barclay.