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Mutiny get help in front, back

Forward Ali Curtis and defender Craig Demmin arrive in the first round.

By RODNEY PAGE

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 6, 2001


Mutiny general manager Bill Manning and coach Alfonso Mondelo were telling those at Monday's Major League Soccer SuperDraft in Miami that they were interested in a defender. Behind closed doors, they were thinking something different.

They coveted Duke forward Ali Curtis, who recently made himself eligible for the draft by signing with MLS. And after some anxious moments, they got their man on defense.

After San Jose selected North Carolina forward Chris Carrieri with the first pick, Tampa Bay nabbed Curtis with the second. A speedy forward, Curtis had 15 goals and nine assists as a senior last season. He had 53 goals in four seasons.

He will team with Mamadou Diallo, last year's MLS goal leader. To make room for Curtis, the Mutiny traded forward Manny Lagos to San Jose for the Earthquakes' second- and third-round picks.

"We were showing that we were going in a different direction (than forward)," Mondelo said. "We were going to get a defender. It worked out perfectly."

Curtis, 22, pondered signing with Danish club Aalborg, but last week decided to join MLS.

"I was extremely close (to playing in Europe)," said Curtis, who plans on completing work toward a double major in political science and sociology by the end of the year. "I trained with Aalborg in Spain and I liked them and they liked me. But at the end of the day I thought it was best for me to develop in MLS."

With the sixth pick in the first round, the Mutiny took defender Craig Demmin of the A-League's Rochester Rhinos. Demmin, 6 feet 2, 185 pounds, is the big, fast defender the Mutiny was looking for.

"We came here to get Craig Demmin," Manning said. "We took a chance that he would still be there by the sixth pick and we were fortunate. We were holding our breath for four picks. Once it was our turn we handed in the card right away. ... He's the best defender in the draft."

Demmin is a three-year veteran of the A-League. He will compete with Chris Houser, Kalin Bankov, Steve Trittschuh and Joe Addo for playing time.

"I'm looking forward to contributing right away," Demmin said. "Tampa seems like a good organization. I'm ready to get there and start training."

With its second-round pick from the Lagos trade, the Mutiny selected forward Devin Barclay, a member of the under-20 national team.

In the third round, part of the same trade, the Mutiny took midfielder Alberto Munoz, a 2000 graduate of Miami Sunset High. He has trained with the Mutiny since January.

In the fourth round, the Mutiny selected goalkeeper Adam Throop of Westmont College and the Chicago Sockers of the Professional Development League.

Tampa Bay then traded its fifth round pick in 2002 to Kansas City for its fifth round pick this year. It used the pick to select midfielder Hector Navarte of the PDL's Westchester Flames. Teammate and defender Mersim Beskovic was also picked in the fifth round.

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