FC Dallas Draft History – 1996 Part 1

With the SuperDraft taking place Thursday and Buzz’s recent deep dives into the history of various jersey numbers on the team, I’ve been thinking a lot about all of the players Dallas has drafted since 1996.

Quite a few became MLS regulars, with some emerging as faces of the team. For a lot of them, though, things didn’t pan out.

In this series, I’ll be 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.

With that, we’ll begin.

Marquee Allocations

Back in 1996, ahead of the inaugural MLS season, the league ran three drafts for players as well as an allocation of four “marquee” players to each team that had previously been signed by the league.

In the Inaugural Allocations, the Dallas Burn received Colombian midfielder Leonel Álvarez, Uruguayan midfielder Washington Rodriguez, American midfielder Mark Santel, and Mexican forward Hugo Sánchez.

Leonel Álvarez

Leonel Alvarez
Leonel Alvarez. (Courtesy MLS)
  • Born: 29 July, 1965, Colombia
  • Signed from: America de Cali, Colombia
  • Games Played: 70 (1996, 1998-1999)
  • Goals/Assists: 3/12
  • Moved to: Veracruz, Mexico (1997); New England Revolution (1999)
  • International: Colombia, 101 caps, 1 goal

Leonel Álvarez had already emerged as a superstar at the international level by the time he signed with MLS in 1996. He was part of Colombia’s squads at the 1990 and 1994 World Cups, as well as every Copa America squad from 1987 through 1995. He was a regular for the Burn in 1996 as a defensive midfielder, making the MLS Best XI. He moved to Veracruz in Mexico for the 1997 season, but came back to Dallas in 1998.

Late in the 1999 season, Álvarez was traded to New England for Ariel Graziani, who went on to lead Dallas in scoring in 2000 and 2001. Alvarez remained with the Revolution through the 2001 season before returning to Colombia, signing with Deportivo Pereira. He retired from playing in 2004 and went into coaching. He’s since coached Independiente Medellin, Deportivo Cali, Veracruz, and the Colombian national team.

Washington Rodriguez

Embed from Getty Images
  • Born: 12 January, 1970, Uruguay
  • Signed from: Liverpool Montevideo, Uruguay
  • Games Played: 14 (1996)
  • Goals/Assists: 4/1
  • Moved to: Benfica, Portugal (1997)
  • International: Uruguay U20, U23

Washington Rodriguez is an oddity who stands out among these four players, mainly due to not having much of a lasting impact in MLS. Rodriguez spent just 14 games in MLS, making just 9 starts in the process. With Liverpool Montevideo, he was a regular for years, reaching similar levels of local acclaim to someone like Ryan Hollingshead. He helped Liverpool achieve promotion to the Uruguayan top flight in 1987, and later in his career did the same in 2002.

With FC Dallas, he spent less than three months with the team before leaving for Portugal at the end of June. His time with Benfica didn’t pan out either, and he returned to Uruguay in January of 1997. He spent a season as a regular with Nacional before rejoining Liverpool in 1999. He finished out his career with Liverpool and retired in 2003.

Mark Santel

Embed from Getty Images
  • Born: 5 July, 1968, Missouri
  • Signed from: Colorado Foxes, A-League
  • Games Played: 133 (1996-2000)
  • Goals/Assists: 5/14
  • Moved to: Kansas City (2000)
  • International: United States, 13 caps, 1 goal

Mark Santel had already made his debut for the senior national team before graduating college, receiving his first cap in January 1988. When he graduated in 1990, the most serious professional soccer in the United States was found indoors. Santel was first drafted by the Wichita Wings with the first overall pick in the 1991 Major Indoor Soccer League draft, but was traded to the St. Louis Storm before the season began.

After a successful season indoors under head coach Fernando Clavijo, the league was in shambles and the Storm were actively collapsing. He moved to outdoor soccer, signing with the Colorado Foxes of the APSL. With the Foxes, he won two APSL championships in 1992 and 1993 playing for Dave Dir.

Upon joining the Dallas Burn, he became a regular starter for years with the team’s early core. After the 2000 season, he was traded to Kansas City for a 3rd round draft pick, used to draft Josue Maynard. With Kansas City, Santel mainly came off the bench as age and injuries caught up to him. He retired at the end of the year and went into youth development.

Hugo Sánchez

Embed from Getty Images
  • Born: 11 July, 1958, Mexico
  • Signed from: Linz, Austria
  • Games Played: 23 (1996)
  • Goals/Assists: 6/3
  • Moved to: Atletico Celaya, Mexico (1997)
  • International: Mexico, 58 caps, 29 goals

Hugo Sánchez joined the Dallas Burn at the age of 37, with a long and illustrious career behind him. After making a name for himself with UNAM in Mexico, Sánchez ventured out into the world, playing for a long list of prominent teams. He spent two summers on loan with the San Diego Sockers in the NASL, and left UNAM for Atletico Madrid in 1981. From there, he played for Real Madrid, Club America, Rayo Vallecano, Atlante, and Linz. For his country, he was a frequent figure across three decades.

Despite playing only 23 games for Dallas and leaving at the end of the season, he helped make a name for the Dallas Burn in their early days, and remains one of just two players to play in both the NASL and MLS. At the end of the inaugural season, he returned to Mexico for one last brief stint before retiring. After retiring, he went into coaching, leading his original club UNAM, Necaxa, Almeria, Pachuca, and the Mexican national team. He currently works for ESPN doing commentary.

This concludes Part 1 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.

We’ll be back with the first picks from the Inaugural Player Draft.

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