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OBrien makes a name for himself in Rapids MLS opener against Beckham
Players, coaches and referees around Federal Way and the South Puget Sound League know that Ciaran OBrien can be a little testy on the soccer field. Now Major League Soccer (MLS) also has a pretty good idea about OBriens aggressive playing style.
The 2006 Decatur High School graduate was the fifth overall pick in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft by the Colorado Rapids after playing last season at the University of California-Santa Barbara.
The rookie midfielder had an memorable debut in his first MLS regular season game Saturday night against the star-studded Los Angeles Galaxy in Colorado. OBrien came on as a second-half substitute for the Rapids, but was eventually sent back to the bench in the games closing minutes for a hard foul on Galaxy forward Carlos Ruiz.
OBrien came on in the 71st minute of the impressive 4-0 Colorado win. Nine minutes later, OBrien made a sliding challenge on Ruiz, who went down clutching his knee.
Following the tackle, Los Angeles midfielder Landon Donovan, the international star and Americas all-time leading scorer, ran in and pushed OBrien in the chest and put a hand to his throat before other players intervened and separated the two. One of those other players just happened to be Galaxy midfielder David Beckham.
As medics came on to stretcher Ruiz off the field, referee Abby Okulaja sent off OBrien for the hard tackle.
Its a little bit of a bummer that had to happen in the end, but thats the way it goes, OBrien told the Denver Post. Its probably not smart on my part to do a tackle like that with two minutes to go.
OBrien was also in the middle of another incident just a few minutes earlier when Galaxy defender Abel Xavier, already with a yellow card, sent OBrien sprawling with a lunging tackle from behind. As the referee moved in to deal with the foul, Xavier went crazy and was sent off for abusive language.
Im finding it hard not to criticize some of the decisions tonight, but Ive just been told Ill be fined if I do, Beckham told USA Today after the game. I dont want that to happen. Referees have a tough job, but some decisions change games, and thats happened tonight.
The red card against Los Angeles will also mean that OBrien wont be in the lineup tonight when the Rapids play their second MLS regular season game of the season against the Kansas City Wizards. OBrien will be eligible to play again when Colorado travels to Boston to play the New England Revolution on April 12.
It wasnt a real big shock that OBrien was drafted in the first round of Januarys MLS SuperDraft. The midfielder, who played last season at Santa Barbara, declared himself eligible after inking a three-year deal with Generation Adidas the week before the SuperDraft.
Generation Adidas is a joint venture between MLS and the United States Soccer Federation aimed to raise the level of young soccer talent in the United States. The program, sponsored by Adidas, encourages early entry (without college graduation) of American players into MLS.
By signing with Generation Adidas, OBrien forgoes his remaining two years of eligibility at Santa Barbara.
The Colorado Rapids, who own OBriens rights, will not have to pay the 2006 Decatur grads contract because Adidas has already taken care of the deal. This is a great way for the MLS to affordably bring in the best young talent in the country while these players receive strong contracts for the beginning of their pro careers. These players will also receive compensation directed toward finishing their college education following their professional soccer career.
Last year at Santa Barbara, OBrien was a NSCAA All-American Third Team member after registering seven goals and 11 assists in 21 games. The most widely recruited transfer player in the nation in 2006, he came to UCSB after a very successful freshman campaign at the University of San Diego.
During his four-year Decatur career, OBrien amassed 46 goals and 37 assists and was was named Gatorade Player of the Year for the state in 2006. He has also led the Gators to a pair of South Puget Sound League South Division championships and been the leagues Most Valuable Player twice.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, email@example.com