Metros win lottery for DJ Countess
August 7, 2001 (Official Press Release)
U.S. Under-20 National Team goalkeeper D.J. Countess will join the MetroStars, who claimed the rights to Countess after winning a weighted lottery draft held today at in the Major League Soccer headquarters in New York City today. The former UCLA star signed a Nike Project-40 contract with Major League Soccer on Friday, August 3, becoming the 57th player to sign with the program since its inception in 1997.
Countess, known for his quick reflexes and outstanding range in the penalty area, started all 37 games of his career with the U-20s and was instrumental in helping the team advance to the second round of the June's FIFA World Youth Championship in Argentina. Countess shined throughout the tournament, leading the Americans to the second round courtesy of a second place finish in Group C. Perhaps his best performance of the tournament came in a 2-0 loss to Egypt where he posted six first half saves, including a brilliant stop on a penalty kick to keep the score tied at 0-0.
During his freshman season at UCLA in the fall of 2000, Countess immediately claimed the starter's role, playing in 19 matches and leading the Bruins to a second-place finish in the Pac-10. He posted a 1.02 goals against average, the second best mark in the Pac-10. Countess joins former UCLA Bruins Nick Rimando and Carlos Bocanegra as the third player in school history to leave school early to join Nike Project-40.
A member of U.S. Soccer's first-ever full-time residency program with the under-17 national team in 1999, Countess played alongside MLS All-Stars Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley and Bobby Convey on the U.S. team that finished fourth in the 1999 U-17 World Youth Championship in New Zealand. Countess played every minute of every match in that tournament as well, helping the squad post a 3-2-1 record that included an agonizing 8-7 loss on penalty kicks following a 2-2 draw with Australia in the semifinals.
The 19-year-old will join MetroStars and former Project-40 goalkeeper Tim Howard, who trained alongside MLS veteran Tony Meola and Mike Ammann before claiming the MetroStars starting role this season. Countess joins Martin Klinger as the second member of Project 40 on the MetroStars roster this season.
"I am very excited to begin my professional career in MLS, especially given the success that several other young players have had in the league. I hope to add to that list," said Countess. "Before I signed, I spent a lot of time talking with some of the young goalies in MLS that I respect, particularly Nick Rimando and Adin Brown. They both gave me very good advice that impacted my decision and I appreciate their advice."