The Los Angeles Galaxy continued the construction of their roster for the 2005 Major League Soccer season on Wednesday, when they signed three young players to developmental contracts after their excellent performances during the club's preseason campaign.
The Galaxy inked defender Ben Benditson and midfielders Mubarike Chisoni and Herculez Gomez to the developmental roster, with the first two among the club's selections this year in the MLS SuperDraft and Supplemental Draft.
Affectionately called "Mamba" by coaches and teammates, Chisoni is a native of Zimbabwe, and attended Coastal Carolina University like fellow Galaxy teammate Joseph Ngwenya. Sampson has given the 5-foot-8 striker rave reviews for his initial effort at the professional effort.
"Mamba is going to be the surprise of the season," Sampson said. "He has incredible pace, very direct, and he has a good shot."
Chisoni is expected to battle it out for a spot on the left side of midfield for the Galaxy, after the club lost both Sasha Victorine and Alejandro Moreno through trades with the Kansas City Wizards and San Jose Earthquakes respectively.
Surprisingly, the Galaxy was even able to find a player in the supplemental draft in Benditson, the first overall pick in the four-round draft.
Sampson called the Cal State University-Northridge product "the steal of the draft," and unlike most players taken in the supplemental draft who are simply fighting for spots on reserve teams, Benditson is fighting for a spot with the regular squad.
For Benditson, the change from college to MLS as well as being a new face hasn't gone unnoticed.
"The speed is so much faster here than in the college game. The players out here have such better quality," he said. The addition of the young players -- especially the draft picks -- is just another sign that Sampson's first SuperDraft is already showing signs of bearing fruit. After the Galaxy took Southern Methodist University defender Ugo Ihemelu with their first selection (the fourth overall), the pick raised more than a few eyebrows around the league. But Sampson and the Galaxy front office stand firmly behind their decision.
"To this day I'm very happy with the decision we've made, because he's probably going to be one of the best athletes this league has ever seen," Sampson said of Ihemelu.
Having a large group of young players in the Galaxy camp help in other ways, too. There could be plenty of opportunities for them to show their wares early, as a large percentage of the club's veterans are committed to their national teams and could be pulled away often for World Cup qualifying matches.
"It makes you feel like you're not alone out there because so many guys are in the same position," said Benditson.
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject tot he approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.