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'New' Wizards taking shape
by Ridge Mahoney, January 16th, 2008 6:45AM

TAGS:  mls


[MLS WATCH] Whether it improves or plummets from how it performed last season (11-12-7), Kansas City won't be the same. Two days after striker Eddie Johnson left the U.S. training camp in Southern California to talk contract with English Premier League club Fulham came the announcement of Nick Garcia's departure. The team's all-time leader in appearances is bound for San Jose in exchange for the No. 1 pick in the MLS SuperDraft. Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney examines the trade. ...

San Jose coach Frank Yallop, who much prefers proven MLS commodities over rookies or foreign signings, had fielded a few offers for the No. 1 pick. A hole opened up in his back line when Clarence Goodson, picked from FC Dallas in the expansion draft, signed with Norwegian club IK Start.

(Contrary to a report in yesterday's Daily, Goodson hasn't left the U.S. camp. He is scheduled to start training camp with Start Jan. 28 and remains in contention for a spot on the game-day roster to face Sweden at Home Depot Center Saturday.)

In his seven MLS seasons Garcia, 28, set a team record for games played (247, every one as a starter) and as a rookie in 2000 played every minute as the Wizards set a league record for shutouts with 16 and won the league title. He finished a close second to the Fire's Carlos Bocanegra in Rookie of the Year voting.

A debate will rage over whether Garcia, once described by former Wizards coach Bob Gansler as a "wild mustang," is worth the No. 1 pick.

He has played both outside back slots and central defense for the Wizards. His durability is remarkable: he's never played fewer than 24 games in a season.

The trade further strengthens Kansas City's clout heading into draft; of its six picks, it has two in the first round (No. 1 and No. 11) and two more in the second phase (No. 23 and 25). All but the No. 11 were acquired in trades.

If Johnson is sold to Fulham, Kansas City will receive two-thirds of the transfer fee, with the MLS Competition Committee empowered to decide how much of that sum can be used for player purchases.

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