April 1, 2005
Santa Barbara, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara's men's soccer program will be well represented this season in the professional ranks, starting with the kickoff to the 2005 Major League Soccer season, it's tenth, this weekend. Recently graduated All-American Dan Kennedy, the Gauchos' all-time shutout, victory, and goal against average record holder will be dressing out as the New York/New Jersey Metrostars backup keeper in their season-opener. And former Gaucho Thiago Martins is expected to start for Chivas USA in the expansion franchise's first-ever MLS regular season match.
UCSB's all-time scoring champion, All-American Drew McAthy, is slated as the early favorite to lead the Puerto Rico Islanders of the United Soccer League's First Division (formerly the A-League), having signed a contract with the club earlier this week. While on trial with the club over the past three weeks, the No. 1 overall pick of the USL College Draft (Puerto Rico) has shined for the Islanders as they swept the four-team competition with a combined 12-0 score in Puerto Rico's Copa de Campeones.
In net for Puerto Rico in two of its Champions Cup matches was Kennedy, who is scheduled to sign with club when Metrostars' starter keeper Jonny Walker returns from a shoulder injury. Currently Kennedy is backing up former UCLA keeper Zach Wells who is expected to be relegated back to the bench following Walker's return.
The Metros open their season by hosting expansion franchise Real Salt Lake, who will be making its MLS regular season debut on Saturday as well, giving UCSB a player in both games featuring the two expansion franchises in their first-ever matches. NY/NJ and RSL is scheduled to kickoff at 7:00 p.m. EST and can be viewed on the west coast via webcast at metrostars.mlsnet.com. Chivas will kickoff the 2005 MLS season by hosting defending champion DC United and can be seen live on ABC at 3:00 p.m. EST.
With McAthy, and soon Kennedy, inked into contracts with the Islanders, they join former teammate Memo Arzate in the USL First Division ranks, who recently resigned for one-year with the Western Conference Champion Portland Timbers.
The Gauchos also currently have three other recent players who are playing professionally internationally, headed by All-American and Canadian National Team member Rob Friend. Friend, who graduated in 2002, is in his second season with Molde FK of the Norwegian Premier Division (Tippeligan) after spending a season and a half with Moss FK of the First Division. And former teammates of Friend, Arzate, McAthy, and Kennedy, David McGill ('02-'03) and Alan Keely ('02) are both playing for Dublin City of Ireland's Eircom League (Premier).
Recent graduates and New Zealand National Team members Tony Lochhead and Neil Jones are both currently rehabilitating injuries sustained while on trial with clubs in Europe, however they are both expected to make full recoveries and are expected to sign with clubs before the end of summer.