As Najar prepares for int'l debut, United urge him to focus
WASHINGTON — D.C. United phenom Andy Najar finally will get the chance to take his game to the international stage.
After possible call-ups earlier this summer came and went without things working out, Najar was part of the roster for the next two friendlies Honduras will play on Sept. 3 against Colombia and Sept. 6 against Paraguay.
“I’m very thankful because of the opportunity Honduras gave me,” said Najar. “I just need to focus and take advantage of it.”
Najar was reportedly in the running to make Honduras’ Gold Cup roster earlier in the summer. But the federation elected not to bring him, hoping to bring him in at the U-23 level first, as he’s a prime candidate to take part in Olympic qualification at the beginning of 2012.
However, the two upcoming friendlies presented the chance against tough South American competition, as Honduras will first play at Red Bull Arena against Colombia and then travel home to face Copa América finalists Paraguay.
With the spotlight of the international game about to shine directly on the 18-year-old, his coach, Ben Olsen, is excited but also quick with some words of wisdom and encouragement to .
“I’ve asked a lot of Andy here,” Olsen said, “and I’m still looking for him to be more consistent with us, as I am with a lot of guys right now."
In the middle of his second professional season after signing with D.C. United as a Home Grown player last year, Najar has three goals and four assists on the year in 19 appearances.
For teammate Santino Quaranta, a sometime US international, Najar has the potential to become a top player for his country and his club, provided he goes about it the right way.
“Now it’s finding the balance of continuing to work hard and do the stuff that got him there,” Quaranta said. “It’s easy to forget sometimes; this is where it starts out here [at training], not so much under the lights. If he continues to do work, he’s going to do big things for us, we all know that.”
Najar's next chance to do "big things" for United comes on Saturday, when they face the Portland Timbers at RFK Stadium. Then, he will get his chance to prove himself in the international spotlight.
"I’m glad he got a call-up," Olsen said. "He’s more than deserving of it, and I hope he does great with that team.”
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @travismclark.