CARSON, Calif. - Chivas USA of Major League Soccer today announced the signing of French forward Laurent Merlin as a Youth International. Merlin, 22, a native of Marseille, France, and former French Under-19 international, joins Chivas USA as a Developmental Player, after being identified by the Los Angeles Galaxy in a widely publicized open tryout held in February at The Home Depot Center. Merlin, who is eligible to play for Chivas USA pending finalization of his work visa, has been training with the Red-and White since March 3.
In addition to Merlin, Chivas USA announced the signing of three other young players to Developmental Contracts: defender Desmond Brooks and forward Anthony Hamilton, both previously selected by Chivas USA in 2007 MLS Supplemental Draft on January 18, as well as defender Bobby Burling, a product of Loyola Marymount University.
"Laurent is a promising young forward and we look forward to seeing what he can do in Major League Soccer," said Chivas USA Head Coach Preki Radosavljevic. "At the same time, we are hopeful that Desmond, Anthony and Bobby will continue contributing to our club as they begin their professional careers with Chivas USA."
Born September 17, 1984 in Marseille, France, Laurent Merlin began his playing career at age 10 with the youth ranks of his hometown club, French powerhouse Olympique de Marseille, where he made his first division debut in 2002. In 2005 he moved to AC Ajaccio on the island of Corsica, where he played 12 first-division matches during the second half of the 2004-05 campaign, notching one goal. In 2006, Merlin joined second division club Châteauroux, where he would play until 2006. He has also represented France at the U-17, U-18 and U-19 levels.
Pending the finalization of his work visa, Merlin could be eligible to play in Chivas USA's match versus the MLS Cup Champion Houston Dynamo this Saturday, April 14 (Pregame: 5:00 p.m. PT; Kickoff: 5:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. CT; TV: FSN WEST, HDNet; Radio: KTNQ 1020 AM Univision Radio; Web: MLSLIVE.tv). He is Chivas USA's third Youth International player, alongside 21-year-old Mexican midfielder Francisco Mendoza and 22-year-old English forward John Cunliffe.
Meanwhile, defender Bobby Burling, 22, joins Chivas USA as a Developmental Player out of nearby Loyola Marymount University, where he was a captain and four-year starter, playing in 80 matches (75 starts), recording 15 goals and 16 assists. In his senior year, the 6-foot-5, 195-pound Burling made the successful transition from forward to central defender. Born October 15, 1984, in Clear Lake City, Texas, Burling grew up in Monument, Colorado. At LMU, he majored in Business Marketing. He has been training with Chivas USA since late March.
With its first-round Supplemental Draft pick (2nd overall), Chivas USA selected defender Desmond Brooks from Saint Mary's College of Moraga, California. A central defender, Brooks played in 72 games (60 starts) during four seasons at Saint Mary's. Born November 27, 1985 in San Francisco, California, Brooks was a participant in Chivas USA's player combine in December 2006 at The Home Depot Center. He has been training with the team since February.
With its third-round Supplemental Draft pick (31st overall), Chivas USA selected forward Anthony Hamilton from the University of California, Irvine. A tall, fleet-footed striker, Hamilton played in 70 games during four seasons at U.C. Irvine, amassing 23 goals and 7 assists. Born August 26, 1985 in Redlands, California, Hamltion was a participant in Chivas USA's player combine in December 2006 at The Home Depot Center. He has been training with the team since February.
Finally, Chivas USA announced today that it released defender Cameron Dunn, the club's fourth-round pick in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft. Dunn had signed as a Developmental Player on March 2.
TRANSACTION: Chivas USA signs forwards Anthony Hamilton and Laurent Merlin, as well as defenders Desmond Brooks and Bobby Burling, to Developmental Contracts. Chivas USA releases defender Cameron Dunn.
Name: Laurent Merlin
Date of birth: 1984-09-17, Marseille, France
Hometown: Marseille, France
Weight: 76 kg / 170 lbs
Height: 1.81 m / 5'11"
Last team: Châteauroux (FRA)
Acquired: Signed by Chivas USA to a Developmental Contract as a Youth International, April 11, 2007
Name: Desmond Brooks
Date of birth: 1985-11-27, San Francisco, California, USA
Hometown: Fresno, California, USA
Weight: 84 kg / 185 lbs
Height: 1.88 m / 6'2"
Last team: Saint Mary's College (California)
Acquired: Selected with Chivas USA's 1st pick (1st round, 2nd overall) of the 2007 MLS Supplemental Draft, January 18, 2007; Signed by Chivas USA as a Developmental Player, April 11, 2007
Name: Anthony Hamilton
Date of birth: 1985-08-26, Redlands, California, USA
Hometown: Grand Terrace, California, USA
Weight: 73 kg / 160 lbs
Height: 1.85 m / 6'0"
Last team: U.C. Irvine
Acquired: Selected with Chivas USA's 4th pick (3rd round, 31st overall) of the 2007 MLS Supplemental Draft, January 18, 2007; Signed by Chivas USA as a Developmental Player, April 11, 2007
Name: Robert Charles Burling
Date of birth: 1984-10-15, Clear Lake City, Texas, USA
Hometown: Monument, Colorado, USA
Weight: 88 kg / 195 lbs
Height: 1.95 m / 6'5"
Last team: Loyola Marymount University
Acquired: Signed by Chivas USA as a Developmental Player, April 11, 2007