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reprint of COLORADO RAPIDS NEWS RELEASE -- byline Ben Grossman
DENVER (Wednesday, March 18, 1998) - Obviously not satisfied with the 1997 Western Conference Championship, the Colorado Rapids completed an infusion of international firepower with the allocation of Peruvian National Team forward Waldir Saenz.
Waldir Saenz (pronounced Wal-deer Signs) teamed with Brazilian midfielder and recent Rapids signing, Marquinho, to lead Alianza Lima to the 1997 Peruvian Championship. In his five years as a professional, all with Alianza Lima, Waldir has finished either first or second in the league in scoring every year.
Colorado also brings in Waldir when he is on the middle of a goal-scoring tear, as he found the net a whopping six times in his last three games for Alianza. He scored four goals in his last league game, a win over Deportivo Municipal, and also had Alianza's lone goals in two Copa Libertadores matches - a 1-0 win over Sporting Cristal and a 1-1 draw with Argentine power River Plate. The Copa Libertadores is the prestigious South American club championship tournament.
Rapids general manager Dan Counce said the Rapids' attack will now be one of the most potent in the league after acquiring the two top foreigners in team history.
"After the championship season, Alianza was having some financial restructuring, so we were able to work out the deal to bring in Waldir. What we have done now is taken two of the best players from one of the best teams in South America and plugged them into our line-up. This team just got very, very interesting," said Counce.
Waldir, 24, joins the Rapids on a one-year loan agreement, where Colorado has the option after this season to purchase the player's contract and make him a permanent member of the Rapids.
Rapids coach Glenn "Mooch" Myernick said his numbers tell the story of the high-caliber striker the Rapids are getting.
"His goal-scoring record speaks for itself. To score that many goals on such a consistent basis is one of the most difficult things to accomplish in soccer, and we are very excited to have him complete what we feel is a very dangerous attack," said Myernick.
Position: Forward Ht: 5-9 Wt: 155 Born: May 15, 1973 in Lima Hometown: Lima, Peru Citizenship: Peruvian How Acquired: 1998 Allocation Pro Outdoor Experience: Alianza Lima (Peru) 1993-1997
1998 OUTLOOK: The allocation of the Peruvian sniper gives the Rapids a natural goal scorer and a front runner to pair with Paul Bravo. Saenz, who has displayed the ability to score with both feet and his head from virtually any angle or position, will re-unite with 1997 Alianza Lima teammate Marquinho to give the Rapids an extremely dangerous look up the middle.
PRO OUTDOOR CAREER: Saenz made his debut in 1993 with Alianza Lima of the Peruvian First Division at the age of 19 ... He scored 32 goals and led the Peruvian league in goals in his first season with the club ... Saenz went on to finish either first or second in goal scoring in the league for each of the next four years, through last season ... He led Alianza Lima to the Peruvian championship in 1997, his 15 goals the second-most on the club.
NATIONAL TEAM: Made his Peruvian National Team debut in 1993 at the age of twenty, and has been a member of the team ever since ... Played 20 minutes as a substitute against the USA during U.S. Cup '97.
|YEAR||TEAM||GOALS||RANK IN LEAGUE|
"To take the leading goal-scorer, and the play-maker that set up so many of his goals, from the championship team in Peru, and put them into our line-up, that gives us some very serious weapons."
"In soccer, you can play poorly but score goals and still win. Last year we did not have the ability to do that, but with the addition of these two players, and our solid returning group, that is something we may be able to afford to do from time to time this year."
"Soccer is a sport, but we are also in the entertainment business, and Waldir is an entertainer. Marquinho is an entertainer. This is a team this year that will play some attractive soccer and be very fun to watch for our growing fan base in Colorado."
"I am very flattered that coach Myernick and the Rapids saw me and decided to make an effort to bring me here. Coming to a new team in a new country is very exciting, and I hope it won't take long to fit right into the team."
"Having Marquinho here will make the transition very easy. He knows how I play and how I like the ball, so that will a positive from the start."
"I am very happy to be back together with Waldir in a new team. We were a good combination last year at Alianza, and I expect to do the same for the Colorado Rapids. The soccer in America is growing, and I hope Waldir and I create excitement for the fans of the Rapids."