Midfielder da Luz finally finding his feet at DC United

WASHINGTON – In a little more than two months, D.C. United midfielder Austin da Luz has already made more league appearances in a D.C. shirt than he did in a year and a half as a member of the New York Red Bulls.

“It’s been nice,” da Luz said of getting some playing time. “We’ve got a lot of guys that we can play and move around, it’s been good to get a little bit more time and a little more comfortable on the field with the guys.”

New York drafted da Luz in the first round out of Wake Forest in 2010, but injuries limited him through most of his rookie year. He didn’t make his league debut until May 28, 2011, and two months later he was shipped to D.C. in exchange for an international roster spot.

A left-sided midfielder, da Luz has made the most of the new beginning, earning three starts so far for D.C., and making 10 appearances overall. He’s been used as one of the players to try and help cope with the loss of Chris Pontius who had manned that side for most of the season.

“I think he’s given us a good option out there,” head coach Ben Olsen said. “I think he’s had some games where he really helped us, and he’s had some games where he was figuring things out.”

The 24-year-old has found the transition down the East Coast an easy one. On a team with a number of young American talents, he’s fit in well with a cohesive group. Further easing the move was his fondness for Washington, D.C.

“I love the city, always have,” he said. “Got a lot of friends in the area, it’s close to home for me so it’s easy to get settled.”

And with four games left, da Luz will be a big piece in D.C.’s fight for a playoff spot in a crowded Eastern Conference. But Olsen isn’t looking for contributions from him this year alone.

“This is a kid who hasn’t had many minutes, I’m very happy we have him,” Olsen said. “He’s a great kid, and I think he’s going to be a good piece for this club going forward. It’s a great pickup.”

Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. You can follow him on Twitter @travismclark.