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Mutiny loses 3 to Miami in draft

Mutiny midfielder Nelson Vargas, defender Cle Kooiman and goalkeeper Scott Budnick were selected by the Miami Fusion in the Major League Soccer expansion draft Thursday.

Vargas was selected sixth in the 12-round draft. Kooiman was taken in the seventh round and Budnick in the 10th.

The Fusion and the Chicago Fire, which begin play next season, chose from a list of unprotected players provided by each of the 10 teams. Once a player was selected, that team could protect one more player.

The Mutiny protected forward Alan Prampin and midfielder Sam George. No team could lose more than three players.

"I'm a little disappointed that we lost three players, but we also got to pull back two very good players," Mutiny president and general manager Nick Sakiewicz said. "We're certainly sorry to see Nelson go. He was a very skillful player. And I'm a little surprised (goalkeeper) Mark (Dougherty) wasn't taken."

Vargas, 23, is familiar with South Florida. He played soccer at Coral Park High School and lives in Miami. A former U.S. Olympian, Vargas played in 30 games over two seasons, starting 13. He had three goals and two assists, all this season.

"I really believe (Vargas) could be the next (U.S. national team midfielder) Claudio Reyna," Fusion coach Carlos "Cacho" Cordoba said. "I believe in his talent, and I think the people of Fort Lauderdale will be happy with him."

Kooiman, 34, has been a steady player the past two seasons. He was the Mutiny's fourth allocated player in 1996 and started 54 games. Known as a physical defender, Kooiman committed a league-high 129 fouls in two seasons.

Budnick, 26, has been a reserve during his two seasons with the Mutiny. He started 12 games, eight this season, and was 2-6 this year. In both seasons, Budnick started the Mutiny's last playoff game, both losses.

The draft was loaded with defenders. Miami selected seven and Chicago five. The first player chosen overall was Danny Pena, a defender from Los Angeles.

The first three players taken by the Fusion were from MLS Cup champion D.C. United (David Vaudreuill, John Maessner and Kris Kelderman).

At least one player was selected from each team. Five teams, Columbus, New York/New Jersey, Washington, Dallas and Tampa Bay, had the maximum players selected.

With three roster openings, the Mutiny has holes to fill through collegiate and open draft picks, free agents and allocated players.

Sakiewicz said the off-season will be spent trying to fill those holes.

"We have to fill the central defender spot," Sakiewicz said. "And we have some trade possibilities. The thing we want to do now is build chemistry. I think we were lacking that last year."

NOTE: Swedish national team goalkeeper Thomas Ravelli signed a multiyear contract with MLS. Ravelli, 38, has 143 appearances with the Swedish national team, tops among all national team goalkeepers. Ravelli will be assigned by the end of the month.