Commentary: Why DC's Najar will thrive at Anderlecht
AMSTERDAM – D.C. United wing terror Andy Najar's January loan to Belgian champs Anderlecht should get going in earnest on Friday afternoon, when the Mauves take on Dutch side Heracles in a friendly in Turkey.
After that, the month-long loan will take in a Belgian Cup quartefinal match (Jan. 16 vs. Gent) and two league contests (Jan. 20 at home to Zulte-Waregem; Jan. 26 away to Lokeren).
So how will the stint play out and how will temporary manager John van den Brom deploy the Honduran international?
That's the biggest question, isn't it? After all, the defending champions have won 10 straight, and done so by an average of nearly three goals in Jupiler League play to open up an eight-point cushion at the top of the league.
Furthermore, Anderlecht have several options at Najar's preferred spot on the right flank, including Belgium U-21 winger Massimo Bruno and Argentine star Matías Suárez.
But there is good news. Minutes should be possible given that Suárez is still on the comeback trail from an injury, Bruno has run hot and cold this season, and another possibility, Guillaume Gillet, has shifted to outside back.
How Najar fits
The Mauves usually appear in a 4-2-3-1 formation that does its best to operate like a standard 4-3-3. On occasion, they will go to a two-striker set. Either way, they lean heavily on wingers both to move the team down the field and to make final attacks.
The Anderlecht system is set up to carve out plenty of crossing and cutback opportunities on that flank, which seems to fit perfectly with Najar's skillset and inclination. He was tied for third on D.C. in assists, despite the fact that some portion of his 25 appearances were at right back.
He will also be expected to interchange with the central midfielders, including former Chivas USA man Sacha Kljestan (at right). And when Najar has an opportunity to serve in a cross, he has plenty of capable targets, including Belgian forward Tom De Sutter, Congo international Dieumerci Mbokani and left-sider Serbian star Milan Jovanovic.
There seems no reason why Najar can't succeed, if given a chance. His touch, speed, and strength are certainly up to snuff. The Jupiler League is probably more tactical than MLS, but Najar has proven with United and Honduras that he has plenty of tactical nous. All in all, he should be just fine.