Galaxy reacquire Mathis, select midfielder Stephens

PHILADELPHIA — The LA Galaxy selected UCLA midfielder Michael Stephens in the first round (16th overall) of today’s 2010 MLS SuperDraft. The club also completed a trade with Real Salt Lake that saw the Galaxy re-acquire midfielder Clint Mathis. The Galaxy traded their first pick of the draft (15th overall) to Real Salt Lake along with a third round pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, in exchange for Mathis and RSL’s first round pick (16th overall), which was then used to select Stephens.

Later in the draft, the Galaxy re-acquired the third round pick in 2011 that they had sent to Real Salt Lake in exchange for the Galaxy’s third round pick (39th overall) in this year’s draft.

Mathis began his career with the Galaxy in 1998 when he was selected by the club in the first round of the MLS College Draft. He went on to score 15 goals and add 17 assists in 65 regular season games with the club, helping them reach MLS Cup 1999, before being sent to the MetroStars (now New York Red Bulls) in May 2000 as part of a special MLS Draft that allowed the Galaxy to select Mexican international Luis Hernandez. Mathis, who has played nearly 250 regular season games in his MLS career, briefly returned to the club in November 2007, when he was acquired in a trade from New York, and joined the Galaxy for their postseason tour of Australia and New Zealand, scoring once in the two games.

Mathis was out of contract following the 2007 season, and In January 2008, he signed with Ergotelis of the Greek First Division. In August of that year, the Galaxy traded his MLS rights to Real Salt Lake, with who he signed shortly there after. In a year and a half with RSL, Mathis appeared in 39 regular season games, scoring two goals and adding seven assists. He helped the club win their first-ever MLS Cup, appearing in all four playoff games, including 98 minutes off the bench against the Galaxy in MLS Cup, converting his team’s first penalty kick in the game’s deciding shootout.

Stephens joins the Galaxy after being selected by the club with the 16th and final pick of the first round of today’s draft. A four-year starter at UCLA, Stephens scored 11 goals and added 20 assists in 81 career games with the Bruins. A two-time First Team, All-Pac-10 selection, Stephens was the 2008 Pac-10 Player of the Year when he set career-highs with seven goals and nine assists. A 20-year-old native of Naperville, Ill., Stephens played for the Galaxy U-20 team in the USL Super-20 League in both 2008 and 2009, helping the club win the Pacific Southern California Division in 2008.

Mathis, Stephens and the rest of the LA Galaxy will kick off the 2010 MLS season on Saturday, March 27 when they host the New England Revolution at The Home Depot Center. This game kicks off at 8 p.m.