Fresh off Olympic run, Najar returns to training for United
WASHINGTON – The sight was a welcome one for D.C. United coach Ben Olsen, who watched one of the club’s brightest stars streak across the field at Tuesday morning’s training session.
Andy Najar, fresh off his stint with the Honduran Olympic team, appeared in pristine condition while running drills on the training fields near RFK Stadium.
“That’s a good run, Andy Najar,” Olsen shouted during a short-field workout.
Najar, who returned to D.C. on Sunday, seems a safe bet to travel with the club for Saturday’s match against Sporting Kansas City at Livestrong Sporting Park.
“He looked good today,” Olsen said. “Fresh. We’ll be smart with him. He’s healthy and he looks sharp.”
The 19-year-old Homegrown player appeared in three matches in London, including an upset of Spain, but didn’t enter the team’s 3-2 quarterfinal loss against Brazil this past Saturday.
“I’m thrilled for what that team was able to accomplish in the Olympics,” Najar said Tuesday through a translator. “I’m also grateful the coach [Luis Fernando Suárez] gave me an opportunity to play in a couple games. I’m very happy right now.”
With rookie midfielder Nick DeLeon playing well of late and injuries to D.C. outside backs Daniel Woolard and Robbie Russell, it will be interesting to see where Olsen slots Najar if he plays against Kansas City.
GOAL: Woolard diving header from Najar
“It’s just one of the responsibilities I have,” said Najar, who played midfield for the Catrachos but has seen time on D.C.’s backline this season. "If we have to fill in that position, I will do it 100 percent."
Olsen, who competed for the United States in the 2000 Olympics, knows how Najar is feeling upon his return.
“I’ve been through that,” Olsen said. “Whether you do well or not, it’s intense being a part of the Olympics. Doing well, maybe even is more taxing. He didn’t play the last game and he didn’t have 90-minute games before that so, physically, he should be OK. We’ve just got to get him there mentally.”
Najar also returns from London having garnered some interest from teams in the English Premier League. According to a Sky Sports report, Norwich City, West Bromwich and Wigan Athletic all are interested.
“I just get very happy when I hear that, because it’s always been a dream of mine to play in Europe and if the opportunity comes, I’ll make the best of it,” Najar said.