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Wizards add Colombian and Guadeloupean
by Ridge Mahoney, January 22nd, 2010 7AM
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[MLS] Signings of two international players have been confirmed by the Kansas City Wizards, who last year missed the playoffs and fired Curt Onalfo as head coach.

Midfielder Stephane Auvray, a veteran of the Guadeloupe national team and the second division of French league soccer, and young Colombian defender Pablo Escobar - one of three players from that country signed by the league who are subject to the discovery-claim process - have joined the Wizards. They will be eligible to train with and play for the team once their P-1 visas are stamped and issued.

Auvray, 28, starred for Guadeloupe in midfield at the 2007 Concacaf Gold Cup when it advanced to the semifinals. He left the island at the age of 14 to join Caen, with which he started a professional career that has taken him to several clubs, most recently Nimes. He spent most of his time and played 134 league matches with Ligue 2 Vannes OC.

Auvray returned to the Gold Cup with Guadeloupe last year. He scored his first international goal in a 2-0 first-round defeat of Nicaragua that helped Guadeloupe advance to the quarterfinals, where it lost to Costa Rica.

Escobar, 22, will buttress the Kansas City central defense, perhaps at the expense of veteran Jimmy Conrad, whose name came up in trade rumors during the SuperDraft. Escobar last played for Deportivo Cali in his native country, following three and a half years with Deportivo Quindio and stints in the development academies of Boca Juniors and America de Cali.

Defenders Edward Zea, Hayner Mosquera and Escobar are among a pool of players signed by the league and offered to MLS teams through the discovery process. Escobar will report to the Wizards in mid-February, Auvray is expected to be present when the team begins preseason training next Tuesday.

"We look forward to Stephane joining the team," said Wizards head coach Peter Vermes. "His experience playing in Europe, being the captain of the Guadeloupe national team and his leadership skills will make him a valuable asset to the Kansas City Wizards.

"Signing Pablo in the winter transfer window has been a priority for us this offseason. He comes to Kansas City with the great opportunity to help solidify our back line."

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