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Jean-Baptiste scores first goal, Urso gets last laugh
by Paul Kennedy, March 12th, 2012 7:17PM

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[MLS ROOKIE WATCH] You don't necessarily need to be a top draft pick to make your mark in MLS. Of the seven rookies to start during First Kick 2012, five went No. 8, 14, 19, 31 and 36 in SuperDraft and Kirk Urso, the former North Carolina captain, went No. 10 in the Supplemental Draft. Of the Generation adidas signings, only Kelyn Rowe and Andrew Jean-Baptiste started. For a look at the 2012 MLS rookies and how they fared during First Kick 2012 ...

KELYN ROWE (New England). Scored four goals in preseason to earn start at San Jose. Did see the ball enough to be much of a factor in the Revs' 1-0 loss. SuperDraft: #3 (GA) out of UCLA.

ANDRE JEAN-BAPTISTE (Portland). This year's SuperDraft was touted for quality of the attacking players, and Jean-Baptiste, the first defender taken, showed his own attacking touch with the tying goal in Portland's 3-1 win over Philadelphia. He was only starting because the paperwork has not yet been completed on the transfer of Colombian Hanyer Mosquera, but Timbers coach John Spencer said he wouldn't hesitate to throw Jean-Baptiste into the mix. SuperDraft: #8 (GA) out of Connecticut.

TONY CASCIO (Colorado). Started in 2-0 win at Columbus after impressing on Rapids' trip to Hawaii. "It's all about timing," said Cascio. "I was training with the reserves most of preseason. The coaches like what I do. It's a little bit of skill and some chance. I started with the first team in Hawaii and scored a goal. That proved something there and I earned the trust of the coaches to get put into the starting lineup, which is good for a rookie." SuperDraft: #14 out of Connecticut.

TOMMY MEYER (Los Angeles). With Omar Gonzalez lost to a knee injury, the Galaxy has been looking for someone to partner A.J. DeLaGarza in the middle of the backline. Andrew Boyens got the start against Toronto FC in Concacaf play, while Meyer started in the 3-1 loss to Real Salt Lake. Nonetheless, Coach Bruce Arena said Meyer was "pretty solid." DeLaGarza said, "He did a tremendous job." SuperDraft: #19 out of Indiana.

RYAN MEARA (New York). Could not be faulted on the two goals scored by FC Dallas in the 2-1 win for the home team on Monday. The fact that Meara was a local kid was only one of several factors that went into RBNY's decision to select him with its lone pick in the SuperDraft. Said GM Erik Soler, "He's big, he's strong, we need a goalie, and he's from New York. Every factor that we looked at was there, and he was the player we wanted most from the draft simply because we needed a goalkeeper.  SuperDraft: #31 out of Fordham.

SEBASTIAN VELASQUEZ (Real Salt Lake). It was quite a night for Velasquez. He started for Real Salt Lake in its 3-1 win at Los Angeles. He marked Landon Donovan, promising his mother he wouldn't injure her favorite MLS player. He put the ball into the box that was deflected by Sean Franklin into the goal for the tying goal. And he got to exchange jerseys with Donovan after the game. With Will Johnson sidelined (sports hernia), Velasquez should stay in the lineup for a few more weeks. SuperDraft: #36 out of Spartanburg Methodist.

KIRK URSO (Columbus). Urso admitted he was pretty upset when he was passed over in the SuperDraft despite captaining North Carolina to the 2011 national title and starting 80 games in four seasons with the Tar Heels. Nonetheless, Crew coach Robert Warzycha liked what he saw in Urso in college, especially his work ethic, and installed him as holding midfielder in the Crew's opening lineup at Colorado.  Supplemental Draft: #10 out of North Carolina.

Subs:
#1: Andrew Wenger, Montreal Impact
#2: Darren Mattocks, Vancouver Whitecaps
#5: Casey Townsend, Chivas USA
#10: Ethan Finlay, Columbus Crew
#22: Tyler Polak, New England



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