DC's Kitchen gets good marks as defensive mid vs. Ajax

Perry Kitchen vs. Ajax.

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WASHINGTON — Before Perry Kitchen’s pro debut, much was made about where the 19-year-old US youth international might line up as a pro for D.C. United.

So far, coach Ben Olsen had tabbed the promising rookie at right back and center back in league games, positions he’s played before while representing the United States at various youth levels.

And in Sunday’s friendly loss to Ajax, Kitchen was tested in another position, playing 76 minutes as a defensive midfielder.

“I thought he did fine,” head coach Ben Olsen said of Kitchen’s performance in the middle. “Perry has a strong personality; he is a hard-nosed kid. I ask him to play in several different positions and he doesn’t blink, he goes in and does his job.”

Starting alongside captain Dax McCarty, Kitchen started slow — as did the entire DC team as they adapted to Ajax’s 4-3-3 formation — but eventually settled into the role, looking comfortable on the ball in a box-to-box role.

“It was fun against a good side like Ajax,” Kitchen said after the game. “It was definitely difficult, but I thought I adjusted well.”

While expected to play primarily as a center back in MLS, Kitchen spent all of the collegiate soccer season manning the defensive midfield spot for the University of Akron en route to capturing the NCAA Championship.

In the last few games, he shifted out wide to right back, helping shore up a leaky D.C. United defense.

No matter where he’s asked Kitchen to play, Olsen has been pleased with his rookie.

“I think anywhere I’ve put him so far he’s done a good job,” he said.

Olsen also didn’t rule out using Kitchen in the midfield down the road.

“We’ll see where we go from here,” he said. “We have some decisions in the weekend going into Portland, a tough place to play — small turf field, so we’ll have to make some adjustments.”

And as far as Kitchen goes, wherever the coaches want to play him, he’ll go out there and take care of business.

“I feel comfortable in all the [positions],” Kitchen said. “I’m just going to play where they put me. That’s up to Benny, Chad [Ashton] and Pat [Onstad], all those guys. Wherever they put me, I’ll go out and try to play my best.”