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First pick in college draft also sends UCLA defender Tahj Jakins to Colorado

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. (February 1, 1997) -- Citing the need to acquire attacking, international players, Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids today obtained Uruguay National Team midfielder Adrian Paz and an additional draft pick in a trade with the Columbus Crew, in exchange for the Rapids' first pick in tomorrow's supplemental draft. The Rapids also drafted UCLA All-American defender Tahj Jakins in the first round of the college draft, and are expected to acquire five more players in Sunday's remaining college and supplemental drafts.

Paz, who led the Crew in assists with 10 and added six goals, is expected to be an immediate starter for the Rapids playing the wing opposite Rapids' 1996 Honda Most Valuable Player, Chris Henderson.

With Columbus, Paz was considered one of the team's most skillful and dynamic players, helping the Crew's late-season surge into the playoffs. His creativity, and his ability to keep defenses off balance were highlights of the Crew's inaugural season. Paz was the Major League Soccer Fujifilm Player of the Week for Week 20 in the MLS inaugural season, after contributing to three goals in two consecutive Columbus victories.

"As I have said many times heading into the draft, there is a need on the Rapids' current roster for some immediate talent, players who can head into season two and make an instant impression," said Rapids Head Coach Glenn Myernick. "Adrian is a player who has proven himself on the international field and here in MLS, and we are thrilled to have acquired him today."

Paz, the first ever Uruguayan player to play in the English Premier League, has made 25 appearances for his country. Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound midfielder made his first professional debut with Bella Vista at age 17. Shortly after in 1987, Uruguay First Division's Penarol bought Paz, where he spent the next five seasons. While with Penarol he tallied 63 goals in 178 games. Paz led the team to league titles in 1987 and 1988, and won the Copa Libertadores in 1987 with Penarol, the most prestigious club tournament in all of South America.

In 1992 Paz was traded to Estudianted de La Plata in the Argentine First Division, where he spent one season. In 1994 he was transferred again, this time to the prestigious English Premier League and Ipswich F.C. Paz spent one season with Ipswich before joining the Columbus Crew.

Jakins, the 1996 NSCAA First Team All-American defender from UCLA, anchored the Bruin defense in the 1996 season. As the second consecutive Bruin to be nominated for the Missouri Athletic Club Player of the Year, Jakins was also named defensive MVP for two consecutive years ('95, '96) at the UCLA MetLife Classic. Jakins joins U.S. National Team and Columbus Crew defender Paul Caligiuri as two of three players to ever accomplish this feat.

"Tahj is beyond his years and plays with more maturity than most other college players," said Myernick, who coached Jakins at the 1996 College All-Star game at the NCAA Final Four in December. "A good organizer and leader, he also possesses the physical components to play at this level."

Jakins, who joins fellow UCLA standout Henderson on the Rapids roster, was named to Soccer America's Team of the Week two consecutive weeks in his senior season with the Bruins (Oct. 20 and 27). The 6-foot-2, 180-pound native of Salt Lake City, Utah, played with the U.S. National B Team in the summer of 1996. Jakins comes from a soccer family -- both his great-grandfather and grandfather played on the English National Team.

Major League Soccer will complete the second and third rounds of the college draft and all three rounds of the supplemental draft tomorrow morning in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The draft begins at 7 a.m. MST.
Position: Midfielder
Height: 5-11
Weight: 170 pounds
Born: September 9, 1968, in Montevideo, Uruguay
Hometown: Montevideo, Uruguay
Citizenship: Uruguay
College: None
Professional Experience: Columbus Crew (MLS), 1996
  Ipswich F.C. (English Premier League, 1994-95
Estudianted (Argentine First Division), 1992-93
Penarol (Uruguay First Division), 1987-92
Uruguay National Team 25 appearances

Position: Defender
Height: 6-2
Weight: 180 pounds
Born: November 11, 1975, in Salt Lake City, Utah
Hometown: Huntington Beach, Calif.
College: UCLA

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