- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 3, 2005

CARSON, Calif. — Former D.C. United defender Ezra Hendrickson ended a two-year odyssey when Chivas USA selected him in the expansion draft — and gave him a chance to return home.

“I was very happy,” Hendrickson said.. “My wife was a little more excited than I was. My home is here in Southern California. I was here for seven years with the Galaxy and I like it here, so I was happy to come back.”

Hendrickson’s journey began in July 2003, when the Galaxy traded him to Dallas — five days after his wedding.

“Once we were in Dallas, the coach got fired and I found myself out of favor,” Hendrickson said. “My wife became pregnant during that time. It was not easy at all. But I was able to land on my feet.”

When Dallas released Hendrickson, he joined the A-League’s Charleston Battery in May 2004. Three weeks later, United signed him.

“Leaving D.C. was not easy,” Hendrickson said. “I felt at home. They welcomed me and they treated me really well.”

But the defender feels enthusiastic about playing for Chivas USA.

“It’s a new start for me all over again,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to this new beginning.”

Honoring the pope

United coach Peter Nowak wore a black armband in memory of Pope John Paul II, who died just before kickoff. Nowak once played for Poland’s national team and began his professional career in his homeland.

“It’s very sad,” Nowak said. “He was the father of all of us in the ‘80s when the Solidarity movement started, when I was young. He was the example for all of us. We lost a great man today.”

Pumas is up next

D.C. United will face UNAM Pumas of Mexico City in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup starting this week.

United will play host to Pumas on Wednesday at RFK Stadium at 7:30 p.m., then will conclude the series in Mexico City on April 16.

Pumas won the past two championships in Mexico’s First Division. Former Real Madrid great Hugo Sanchez coaches the club.

Fox Soccer Channel will televise both games live.

Where is everyone?

The announced attendance of 18,493 was the smallest in Major League Soccer history for any team’s inaugural game.

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