Kitchen readies for permanent role in defensive midfield

Perry Kitchen

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WASHINGTON – A season after filling in at different spots along the back line for manager Ben Olsen, D.C. United’s Perry Kitchen has a new task for 2012: Provide cover for the defense from midfield.

The third pick in the 2011 SuperDraft, Kitchen was projected as a defensive midfielder, but was forced to play in defense due to injuries last season.

“I’m definitely excited to take on that role,” Kitchen said after practice on Wednesday. “It’s where I think I can best help the team, but wherever coach thinks I’ll help the team, I’ll play.” 

Kitchen was used as a center back, left back, right back and defensive midfielder last year, despite Olsen preferring to use the youngster in midfield. The offseason acquisitions of Emiliano Dudar and Robbie Russell, coupled with the departure of Clyde Simms, will see Kitchen make that transition to midfield, where he will provide cover for United’s attacking forays.

Kitchen finished the 2011 season playing as a defensive midfielder, and began the offseason preparing to have a permanent role there for United.

“I think he is ready,” Olsen said when asked about Kitchen’s readiness to step into the position against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, MLS Live). “You know on the day, that you will always get a great effort from him, and his ability to win balls in there is going to help us.”

Kitchen’s days as a defender aren’t quite over yet, as US Under-23 national team coach Caleb Porter prefers him in the center of defense, as showcased in last week’s friendly against Mexico.

“It’s not easy,” Kitchen said of switching back and forth between positions. “But I have done it before, and I think I’m a versatile player.”

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