Ebert, Hatzke Sign with Houston Dynamo of MLS

May 21, 2007

BERKELEY - Former California midfielders Eric Ebert and Nick Hatzke recently signed professional contracts with the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer, bringing the total number of one-time Golden Bears in the pro ranks to 11. All 11 played parts or all of their college careers for Cal head coach Kevin Grimes.

Houston, formerly the San Jose Earthquakes, is the defending MLS Cup champion.

Six of those 11 are currently on MLS rosters, three play in the USL Division I and two ply their trade in foreign leagues. Overall, MLS teams have drafted 12 Cal players in the past six years and nine Bears in the last three seasons alone.

'Coach Grimes does a great job in emphasis on player development,' said former Bears forward Calen Carr, who plays for the Chicago Fire in MLS. 'The team is first and foremost, but he puts time and effort into developing players. I left the program a completely different program than I came in.'

The two playing abroad are defender Steve Purdy, a 2006 senior who plays for 1860 Munich in Germany's Second Division, and Leo Krupnik, who plays for Bnei Sakhnin in the Israel Premier League.

The other Bears in MLS are defender Troy Roberts (Los Angeles Galaxy), defender Tyson Wahl (Kansas City Wizards) and goalkeeper Eric Kronberg (Kansas City Wizards).

The former Cal stars in the USL are Mike Munoz (California Victory), Josh Saunders (Puerto Rico Islanders) and Noah Merl (Seattle Sounders).

Saunders was a member of two MLS Cup-winning squads. He captured the title with Chris Roner, another former Bear, with the Earthquakes in 2003 and won the 2005 crown with Roberts and the Galaxy.

'With Kevin, it's just his professionalism that helps Cal produce pro players,' Munoz said. 'He's very professional. When players get to this level, they're used to it because they've already experienced it at Cal.'

Ebert added, 'Coach Grimes did a great job to allow everyone to grow and reach their full potential. A lot of guys came in not as highly recruited as others in the nation but helped the program flourish and improved their games. Coach Grimes had a lot to do with that.'

'He puts all his heart into every practice and every game, preseason and offseason, and creates a training environment that is very competitive,' Wahl said, 'so it allows for a lot of improvement.'

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