Today I’m picking up with the next handful of draft picks, and following American soccer tradition, I’ll continue to overuse the word ‘inaugural’ as much as possible.
In this series, I’m taking a look at literally every single player Dallas has ever drafted since 1996. I’ll be going over who each player was, what they did before joining Dallas, and what (if anything) they did after leaving. And for a handful of players, we’ll talk about what they did instead of playing in MLS.
The Four Drafts
Today’s installment will feature the next four picks by Dallas, and since it’s a bit shorter than the previous one, let’s talk a bit more about the whole draft situation.
MLS had five methods for allocating players for the 1996 season. The marquee allocations were (mostly) done by the league itself, doling out a handful of big names to each of the 10 original teams. Teams were also free to scout and sign players on their own. The league also held three separate drafts: the 16-round Inaugural Player Draft, which only took place in 1996; the 3-round College Draft, for players who had just graduated; and the 3-round Supplemental Draft for already-graduated former-collegiate players, as well as other players in the general player pool.
By the 2000 season, the lack of real definition between the College and Supplemental drafts led the league to combine the two into the SuperDraft, while the Supplemental Draft would later return intermittently, beginning in 2003, and was last held in 2013. Adding to the draft chaos, the league began holding expansion drafts for new teams in 1997, held Allocation and Dispersal drafts following the folding of the two Florida teams ahead of the 2002 season, launched the Re-Entry Draft as part of the 2010 CBA negotiations, and held another Dispersal draft following Chivas USA’s “folding” in 2013.
Hopefully that cleared things up a bit for everyone.
Round 7 – Rene Ortiz
- Born: 23 April, 1969, California
- Signed from: San Diego Sockers, CISL (indoor)
- Games Played: 2 (1996)
- Goals/Assists: 0/0
- Moved to: Monterrey La Raza, Mexico, CISL (indoor) (1997)
- International: United States Futsal, 5 caps, 1 goal
Rene Ortiz is a member of the club of players whose success in indoor soccer didn’t translated into much outdoor success. Ortiz joined the San Diego Sockers at 18, fresh out of high school, in the middle of San Diego’s domination of the league. With the Sockers, he won three consecutive MISL championships, and during the summers, he won the 1989 WSA title with the San Diego Nomads.
Despite having 253 games, 104 goals, and several championship in indoor soccer by 1996, Ortiz struggled to break into the first team with the Burn. He spent the first half of the 1996 riding the bench, and didn’t appear in a game until July. He got 23 minutes off the bench in a 6-1 loss in DC, and then went another 10 weeks without playing a single minute.
His final appearance for Dallas came in his only start, 73 minutes in Los Angeles in September. A knee injury sustained during a loan stint with Cincinnati essentially ended his career in MLS. He returned to the indoor game in 1997, joining Monterrey in the CISL, and retired in 2000.
He went into coaching after retirement, working for several youth and high school teams before becoming the Mexican national futsal team head coach in 2006.
Round 8 – Gerell Elliott
- Born: 11 May, 1970, New Mexico
- Signed from: Sacramento Knights, CISL (indoor)
- Games Played: 65 (1996-1998)
- Goals/Assists: 15/8
- Moved to: Sacramento Knights, WISL (indoor) (1998)
Gerell Elliot, like Rene Ortiz, primarily shined in the indoor game, but unike Ortiz, Elliot managed to do quite a bit more in MLS. After excelling in college soccer at Fresno State, Gerell Elliot made his professional debut with SSV Ulm in a 3rd division league in Germany in 1992. After one season in Germany, he returned to the United States, signing with the Sacramento Knights of the CISL for the summer indoor season, and with the Kansas City Attack for the winter NPSL season. With Sacramento, he made it to the 1995 CISL Championship before losing the series 2-1 to Monterrey.
In MLS, Elliot became a rotation player and frequent substitute in midfield, serving as a reliable 12th man for three seasons. He was the team’s 3rd best player in goals plus assists per 90 minutes in 1996 and 1997, and started for the team in the 1997 US Open Cup Final. After the 1998 season, he retired from MLS and moved back to California, becoming a teacher and returning to the Sacramento Knights for the summer indoor seasons. He won his first championship with the Knights in 1999 over the Sidekicks, and retired again in 2000 after the Knights failed to make the playoffs the following season.
Round 9 – John Kerr Jr.
- Born: 6 March, 1965, Canada
- Signed from: Milwall, England
- Games Played: 12 (1996)
- Goals/Assists: 3/1
- Moved to: New England (1996)
- International: United States, 16 caps, 2 goal
John Kerr Jr. had a wild, globe-trotting career before coming to MLS. Despite being born in Canada, Kerr became a citizen while at Duke University and made his debut for the United States senior national team while still in college.
After winning the 1986 Hermann Award with the Duke Blue Devils, Kerr spent his last college semester in England, and his brief stint with the amateur club Harrow Borough caught the attention of a number of scouts.
He was drafted by the Tacoma Stars in the MISL, but declined and instead signed with Portsmouth in the English top flight. From there, he bounced from team to team, with stops in England, France, Canada, DC, and the American indoor leagues, before ending up at Milwall in 1993. He returned to the US in May of 1995 as part of a transfer to the San Diego Sockers, although he never actually took the field.
Kerr played just 12 games for Dallas before being traded to New England in June of 1996, the first in-season trade in MLS history. In return, Dallas received Zach Ibsen, whose stint with Dallas didn’t last much longer. With the Revolution, Kerr was able to start more regularly, but still didn’t become a central player for the team.
After a brief spell in Northern Ireland, he returned to the United States, signing as player/coach with the A-League’s Boston Bulldogs. From there, he became head coach at Harvard and moved to become head coach of his alma mater Duke in 2007.
He’s still coaching the Blue Devils more 13 years later.
Round 10 – Jimmy McGeough Jr.
- Born: 16 February, 1965, Northern Ireland
- Drafted from: Wichita Wings, NPSL (indoor)
- Never Signed with Dallas
- Moved to: Philadelphia KiXX, NPSL (indoor)
Jimmy McGeough’s father was a successful player in his own right, and Junior carried the family torch, albeit in an unconventional way.
Moving to New York City when his father was hired as coach of New York Apollo in the ASL, he found a home for himself in the indoor game, playing for 8 different indoor teams before being drafted by Dallas. He made several attempts to transition to the outdoor game, most successfully with the Myrtle Beach Boyz in the USISL, but never quite found the same magic on a full-size field.
Dallas ultimately elected not to sign him, and instead, he joined the Philadelphia KiXX in the NPSL. McGeough retired in 1998.
This concludes Part 3 from 1996. To keep things from getting too long-winded, I’ve decided to break up 1996 into several different parts because, as opposed to 1997 where every team had 6 total picks, in 1996 teams had 22 picks and 4 allocated players, and cramming all of that into a single article would just be a novel. I’m already close to 20 thousand words at the midpoint.
We’ll be back in the fourth installment with the last batch of picks from the Inaugural Player Draft along with more stories from Dallas history.