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Originally published Thursday, November 27, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Sounders FC builds up team in MLS expansion draft

Seattle Sounders FC announced its 10 picks in the MLS expansion draft Wednesday. They include one player each from 10 MLS clubs. The 10 report to Seattle to get settled in for training camp in mid-January.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Adrian Hanauer, the Seattle Sounders FC general manager, says the team got what it wanted from the Major League Soccer expansion draft on Wednesday.

Hanauer said he had hoped to land a group of experienced veterans and he did that, including Nate Jaqua, a player with Northwest roots who drew Hanauer's interest this past summer.

Jaqua, 27, an imposing, 6-foot-3 forward, is a native of Eugene, Ore., who played at the University of Portland.

"He's a player that we're absolutely thrilled to have on board," Hanauer said.

Hanauer said he talked with the Houston Dynamo, Jaqua's team, during the past season. He said he wasn't surprised that Houston — one of the most talent-rich teams in the league — left Jaqua unprotected.

Jaqua began his MLS career with Chicago in 2003, then went to the Galaxy in 2007 and was traded to Houston in midseason.

Nine other players were chosen by the Sounders from a list of players not protected by the 14 other MLS teams.

Midfielders: Peter Vagenas, a 30-year-old who won two MLS Cups in nine seasons with the Los Angeles Galaxy; Brad Evans, a key part of the 2008 MLS champion Columbus Crew; Nathan Sturgis (Real Salt Lake); Khano Smith (New England Revolution); and Stephen King (Chicago Fire).

Defenders: Jeff Parke (New York Red Bulls); Tyson Wahl (Kansas City Wizards), James Riley (San Jose Earthquakes).

Forward: Jarrod Smith (Toronto FC).

"We set out to have a very balanced expansion draft, and we feel like we accomplished that," Hanauer said. "We wanted a combination of experienced veterans, guys who have been there in the trenches. We wanted a blend of guys who can play two, three, four years."

Four MLS teams did not lose a player to Sounders FC — Chivas USA, FC Dallas, Colorado Rapids and D.C. United. No more than one player could be taken from any team.

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Evans, 23, started 18 of 26 games for Columbus this past season and played all 90 minutes of the league championship Sunday.

"We certainly wanted players that have either been winners from the past, or come from winning organizations," Hanauer said. "We want to be creative, we want speed, we want versatility in players. We felt this group would blend well with the players already under contract, and those players we have in our crosshairs for the future, and guys who we're circling the wagons on as we speak."

Those players on whom Sounders FC is "circling the wagons," or getting close to signing, would presumably be a group of former United Soccer Leagues Sounders players and/or international players or those from other USL teams.

Former USL Sounders goalkeeper Chris Eylander is believed to be in that bunch of players who will be offered contracts and is on Sounders FC's list of players to talk with as soon as next week.

The 10 new players join four already signed by Seattle — goalkeeper Kasey Keller and midfielders Sanna Nyassi, Freddie Ljungberg and Sebastien Le Toux. It's no guarantee that all 10 chosen in the expansion draft will make the final 24-man roster — Seattle figures to have about 35 players in training camp competing for roster spots when camp opens Jan. 26.

Character concerns and current salary were also factors in which players the team chose. All of the players but Parke are under contract to MLS, which signs players on behalf of teams. The team has begun contract talks with Parke, who made $58,737 in 2008.

Jaqua made $174,125 in guaranteed money in 2008, according to the league, and was the highest-paid player selected by Seattle.

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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