The San Jose Earthquakes used a package deal of a 2013 international player spot and a conditional draft pick from that same year to entice New York Red Bulls to send along midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy, San Jose's official website reported Monday morning.
Ballouchy, a seven-year MLS veteran who had been traded to New York from the Colorado Rapids in September 2010, started 10 times for Red Bulls this season (16 total appearances), providing a goal and two assists.
The native of Morocco moved to Denver with his brother as a teenager, spending his junior year attending South High School. The two then moved to Palo Alto, where Ballouchy attended Gunn High School for his senior year.
He committed to Creighton University and spent his freshman year at the Nebraska school, but then transferred to Santa Clara University. Playing for coach Cam Rast, Ballouchy thrived in his new school's sunny, palm-tree laden climes.
By the time his second season at SCU had come to a close in 2005, Ballouchy had been named a Soccer America and NSCAA/adidas First Team All-American while leading the Broncos to a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
His production caught the eye of talent evaluators, and was soon included in one of Generation Adidas' maiden programs. The project is aimed at improving the talent level of players in the United States, and helps players like Ballouchy enter MLS without the prerequisite of four years in college.
The equipment manufacturer took the reins of the program in 2005 from Nike, who had previously called the venture "Project-40," according to US Soccer Players.
Many of the best players currently involved in the national team set-up emanated from the program and its predecessor, including Landon Donovan, Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley.
The move paid dividends for Ballouchy, who was made the No. 2 overall pick by Real Salt Lake in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft. He appeared in a career-high 32 games that season.
He has since filtered through Colorado (by way of a trade that sent Kyle Beckerman to RSL) and then New York, before finally returning to the Bay Area.
The midfielder has compiled 13 goals and 24 assists during his seven years in MLS, production that has Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop excited to see his newest player take the field.
"I’ve admired his play over the seven years he’s been in the league," Yallop told the club's official site. "He’s steadily improved since joining MLS. Mehdi’s a good player, a great addition to our team and we’re looking forward to having him here in San Jose."
It was not apparent whether Ballouchy would be included in the 'Quakes' team sheet for Tuesday night's (July 31) friendly against Swansea City.
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