Beckham’s signing dominates conversation at MLS draft

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Maryland All-American Maurice Edu was taken by Toronto with the top pick at Friday’s Major League Soccer draft as the David Beckham signing dominated the conversation.

Beckham agreed a day earlier to a five-year contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy. Edu, a 20-year-old midfielder who left Maryland after his junior season, was excited about the Beckham deal.

“When I was growing up, David Beckham was someone I held in awe,” Edu said. “I think he’s going to make MLS more recognized and popular in this country. The opportunity to play against him is amazing. It’s unreal that he’s going to be in the league.

“It’s definitely going to open up more eyes to MLS. American soccer is progressing, and we are getting to another level. I think everything is all going to be positive with him coming into the league.”

Forward John Cunliffe, an English native who played four years at Fort Lewis College, was taken by Chivas USA with the seventh overall pick.

“The whole Beckham deal is going to be a good thing for U.S. soccer,” he said. “I’m not that big a fan of him since he played for Manchester in England and that wasn’t my favorite team. Still, his coming here to promote the sport is gigantic.”

Cunliffe agreed that the sport has a long way to go to win over skeptics in the United States.

“The potential is there. They (promoters) just need the right progress in the next few years, and I think Beckham will definitely help,” he said.

The Galaxy traded down twice in the first round and didn’t select until picking Oregon State forward Robbie Findley as the 16th overall selection, the third pick in the second round.

“I’ve been looking up to him since I was a little kid,” Findley said. “He’s been one of the best players in the world. I’ve idolized him and now to get a chance to play with him, it will certainly help me learn the game and hopefully it will raise the level of the league.”

The Galaxy wound up with three picks in the second round after their trades. They selected Indiana University midfielder Josh Tudela with the No. 20 pick and defender Ty Harden of Washington with the 23rd pick.

Fifty-two players were selected in the draft. Defender Bakary Soumare of the University of Virginia, who went to the Chicago Fire as the second overall pick after Chicago obtained the pick from Columbus for a player to be named.

Goalkeeper Chris Seitz of Maryland, one of four members of the U.S. under-20 team picked in the first round, was taken by Real Salt Lake as the fourth overall pick. Also drafted from the under-20 team were midfielder Anthony Wallace from South Florida (No. 9 by Dallas); midfielder Bryan Arguez (No. 11 by D.C. United) and defender Amaechi Igwe from Santa Clara (No. 12 by New England).

The youngest player selected was 15-year-old Abdus Ibrahim from Richfield, Minn., a member of the U.S. under-17 team who was the first pick in the second round by Dallas, the 14th overall pick.

AP-ES-01-12-07 1934EST

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