- The Washington Times - Friday, January 14, 2005

BALTIMORE — Defending MLS champ D.C. United added a big attacking midfielder at the league’s draft yesterday, selecting Nick Van Sicklen from Wisconsin with the 19th overall pick.

“We feel we have a great upset here similar to Josh last year,” said United coach Peter Nowak, referring to Josh Gros, a fourth-round pick in 2004 who made a major impact on the team last season.

“This is a surprise and a good surprise,” Van Sicklen said from his home in Madison, Wis. “I love Washington, D.C., and to play for the champions is great.”

The 6-foot-1 Van Sicklen is known for his athleticism and his attacking ability on the right flank. He led the Big Ten with 12 goals and seven assists in 2004.

United’s only other pick was defender Tim Merritt from North Carolina. United selected him with the 48th (and final) pick.

Meanwhile, Maryland forward Domenic Mediate was a second-round pick (23rd overall) by Columbus. Former Wilson High School midfielder Amir Lowery, who played collegiately at Wake Forest, went to Colorado with the 45th selection.

Expansion club Real Salt Lake (Utah) had the No.1 overall pick and chose defensive midfielder Nikolas Besagno of Maple Valley, Wash. At just 16 years, 61 days, Besagno became the second-youngest ever draftee in MLS. Freddy Adu was 14 when he was taken first overall last year by D.C. United.

With the second pick, expansion team CD Chivas USA (Los Angeles) chose South Carolina goalkeeper Brad Guzan. It was the first time a keeper had been picked that high.

In other news, MLS announced each club will field a reserve team this season that will compete in 12 games. Also, team rosters have increased from 24 to 28 players.

Notes — D.C. United midfielder Dema Kovalenko will be out of action for three-to-four months after breaking his ankle jogging in his native Ukraine. … A large contingent of D.C. United fans chanted “D.C. United” between the early picks. … The draft was held as part of the National Coaches Association of America Convention, the largest gathering of soccer coaches in the country.

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