CARSON, Calif. – The offseason shuffle that began at Chivas USA earlier in the week with the addition of winger Ryan Smith continued on Wednesday with the 2011 MLS Expansion Draft.
Chivas lost 2011 first-round SuperDraft pick Zarek Valentin to the Montreal Impact, who selected the defender in the league’s Expansion Draft on Wednesday. To replace the young right back, Chivas dealt forward Justin Braun and midfielder Gerson Mayen to the Impact for allocation money as well as veteran James Riley, who was also selected in the Expansion Draft by Montreal.
Valentin, who made 25 appearances with 24 starts graduated from the Generation Adidas program after his rookie season, which would have made the 20-year-old defender exempt from selection in Wednesday’s draft.
“Zarek wasn’t a GA anymore and we made the decision to protect or not to protect,” said assistant coach Carlos Llamosa, “and, unfortunately, we lose a young and talented player, but those are things that happen in sports. We feel bad that we’re losing two players that gave us a lot this year, but in the meantime we’re getting a good player like James Riley.”
In Riley, Chivas USA acquire a veteran right back that made 83 appearances for the Seattle Sounders over the last three years. He appears likely to assume a leadership role on a defense that head coach Robin Fraser believes can develop into one of the most formidable in MLS.
In addition to Valentin, Chivas lost a pair of players with deep connections to Montreal’s head coach. Braun is a former teammate of current Impact head coach Jesse Marsch, who played with Braun in 2008 and '09. The forward made 96 appearances in four seasons with the Rojiblancos, scoring 24 goals, which is second on the club’s all-time scoring list. Meanwhile Mayen, another former teammate of Marsch, spent much of 2011 on loan to NASL club Ft. Lauderdale Strikers.
Although Braun and Mayen will now be heading to Quebec, the Rojiblancos are eager to welcome Riley into the fold.
“We lost our right back and we needed to get a right back right away," said Llamosa, "so when James Riley was available from Montreal ... we had a decision to make. That’s why we made the trade. It’s hard to lose a player like Justin Braun, but something has to move on and that’s what we did.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.