February 27, 2020

MLS pioneer Butler to be honoured by Earthquakes

first_imgNational Under-20 coach and former Reggae Boy, Altimont ‘Freddie’ Butler will tomorrow be honoured by the San Jose Earthquakes as one of the Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise’s original roster members when the league kicked off 20 years ago. Butler, the first Jamaican to play in the MLS, was drafted by the San Jose Clash (later renamed Earthquakes) in February 1996 in the second round (eighteenth overall) of 250 players in the league’s Inaugural Player Draft. He was also on the team’s roster for the first ever MLS game to be played which was against DC United. Tomorrow the San Jose Earthquakes will hold a 20th Anniversary Celebration when D.C. United visits to Avaya Stadium in a recreation of MLS’ inaugural match in San Jose on April 6, 1996, just four days shy of the exact day 20 years ago. As part of the affair all the former San Jose Clash players, staff and MLS representatives that made the inaugural season possible will be honoured at half-time. “It is always a great feeling to be part of history especially being the first Jamaican to be drafted for and to play in the MLS. Being recognised as one of the pioneers is a special feeling,” said Butler who departed the island yesterday for California. Among the former players who will be honoured alongside Butler are current Chelsea technical director and former Nigeria international Michael Emenalo, US Internationals Eric Wynalda, Eddie Lewis, Paul Bravo and John Doyle. Others include Mexican international Eduardo Missael Espinoza, Jorge Rodas (Guatemala) and  Ben Iroha (Nigeria). Having been there at the start Butler now looks on with pride. “It has grown a lot. Right now it is a real big league compared to what it was then and all the signs show that it will grow even more. What I am most proud about is that it has opened the doors for a lot of Jamaicans and the performance of most of them means that we can become a major supplier of talent for the League,” said Butler, who was drafted out of the University of Southern New Hampshire. Even with that success though, the Port Royal native who distinguished himself as a schoolboy at Dunoon Technical High and at Harbour View before venturing overseas, said there is still more for Jamaicans to do in the MLS. “We have to change our outlook, training attitudes and approach. We are too laid back and that is one of the reasons for the most part why some of us do not stay too long there. Our thinking has to get to the level where we treat the sport as a job. We have to prepare our youngsters to know that this (football) is a job just like those you get dressed up in your suits for,” the man, who shares coaching responsibility for the country under-20 Boyz with his former Reggae Boy teammate Ricardo Gardner, said.last_img read more

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Eight SoCal players swell recruiting class

first_imgMany of the high school juniors swore nothing was pre-planned, but by the time each left campus, UCLA coach Karl Dorrell had an unprecedented haul of recruits. Eight players, all from Southern California, gave non-binding oral commitments to be part of the Bruins’ 2008 recruiting class during a high-octane day of unofficial visits to the Westwood campus by some of the most talented players around. Also saying they would commit were Dorsey running back Jonathan Franklin, Culver City safety/receiver Antwon Moutra and Leuzinger of Lawndale linebacker Uona Kavienga. The eighth player to commit was Crenshaw receiver Kemonte Bateman, but his is not considered as strong as the other seven because of extenuating circumstances. Bateman, a dynamic player, received a verbal scholarship offer from UCLA, but is not expected to receiver a written offer for a while because he must clear significant academic hurdles to be admitted to UCLA, sources said. “Let’s just say he has a lot of work to do,” a source said. NCAA rules prohibit coaches from commenting about recruits until a binding signed national letter of intent is received, and signing day for these recruits is 11 months away. The group is led by defensive back Rahim Moore of Dorsey of Los Angeles, Compton defensive end Datone Jones, Colton defensive end Damien Holmes and Crespi of Encino safety E.J. Woods. “It really wasn’t planned,” Holmes said. “I went there just wanting to learn more about UCLA. They sold everything to me. (The coaches) told us all they would love for us to commit, but there really wasn’t that much pressure. People were just sold on it.” center_img The players gave kudos to Bruins defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker and recently hired receivers coach Eric Scott, who has strong ties to the inner city, for the recruiting haul. They said Bruins running backs coach Dino Babers, who is also the recruiting coordinator, also had a major impact on the day. “(The coaches) were talking, so I felt it,” Franklin said. “I was so comfortable there. It was my place. If there’s a chance I don’t make it to the NFL, by me going to that school, I’m going to be successful in life. I’m going to have a good job, make good money, take care of my family. It balances out.” Holmes said the day was pretty typical of an unofficial visit. The group of players took a tour, were presented with academic information, met collectively with Dorrell and individually with position coaches. “It just kind of happened,” said Holmes, who added he has offers from Nebraska, Duke, Mississippi. “It wasn’t like, `Hey, lets go in there together.’ I can’t speak for the other guys, but for me it was, `OK, let’s do it.’ But I guess we all felt the same way.” Moore, who had offers from Nebraska, USC, Auburn and Oregon, made 122 tackles and seven interceptions as a junior. He is listed by several recruiting services as the top defensive back in Southern California. Woods said he played Pop Warner football with Moore, Franklin and Jones, and they often talked about playing college football together. “I like that (UCLA’s coaches) sell academics before anything, and they guarantee a degree,” said Woods, who had 24 tackles five sacks last season. “They wanted a student-athlete. Other schools just wanted an athlete, and they didn’t even ask what my grades were. “I was going to wait it out because I’m just a junior, and Ohio State and Miami started showing me interest, but UCLA was the first school to recruit me. They offered me when I was a sophomore.” The commitments capped a week full of action for the football program, which received non-binding oral commitments from cornerback Aaron Hester of Compton Dominguez, receiver Jerry Johnson of Venice and defensive back Anthony Dye of Corona Santiago. brian.dohn@dailynews.com (818) 713-3607 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img
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