WASHINGTON – When Andy Najar entered the game for D.C. United in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against the LA Galaxy, it marked the first time in league history that three Home Grown players were on the field at the same time for the same team.
Najar lined up alongside goalkeeper Bill Hamid and rookie defender Ethan White against the Galaxy. At one point, the trio played for D.C. United's academy team before signing professional contracts at one point or another over the last two years.
Longtime midfielder Santino Quaranta noted the occasion after the game.
“It’s important,” he said. “It’s something that you put a lot of emphasis on, bringing young guys up and them getting the chance to come along and train with the first team and do that kind of stuff is good.”
WATCH HIGHLIGHTS: D.C. United 1, LA Galaxy 1
[inline_node:319029]All three took various routes to the first team. Hamid (at right) was the first D.C. United academy player to sign a pro contract back in September 2009. He made his first MLS start of the season against LA after a long recovery from offseason shoulder surgery.
Najar, who took the league by storm last season and won Rookie of the Year, subbed in for Chris Korb, playing right back for the final 20 minutes of Saturday’s draw.
Of the trio, White is the newest to the professional ranks, signing from the University of Maryland after his sophomore year last fall. Saturday marked his MLS debut, and the rookie played well going up against Juan Pablo Angel and the LA attack.
“Wearing the jersey is unbelievable,” the 20-year-old told reporters after the game. “Sitting in the stands watching [David] Beckham here three years ago, then playing on the field against him means so much to me.”
Hamid, who played behind White in the Academy goal, thought the debutant looked good.
“I’m very proud of him,” Hamid said. “We had three academy players on the field [Saturday] and that speaks volumes for our academy team.”
[inline_node:333561]White was thrust into action when expected starter Perry Kitchen was ruled out earlier in the day suffering with the flu. Despite not having much time to prepare, he battled Ángel for 90 minutes, limiting the prolific striker’s chances and keeping him off the score sheet.
“For the most part, he was a stud,” head coach Olsen said of White. “The guy’s as athletic as you are going to see and he seems to be a gamer. He seems to be a guy that when you give him a stage he does pretty well, and those are the guys ultimately you want on your team.”
Earlier that week, White made a competitive debut against MLS opposition, going 120 minutes against the Philadelphia Union in a US Open Cup play-in match.
That certainly seemed to help him, as he played alongside Dejan Jakovic in United’s central defense. White looked the part, coming up big to clear a Mike Magee shot off the line when the Galaxy had stretched DC’s defense.
His defensive partner Jakovic had words of praise as well.
“I thought he won a lot of balls and he didn’t lose the ball either,” he said. “Defensively, he was pretty sharp, and I thought he had a good game.”
White looks set to join Najar and Hamid as regulars in the near future, and the team will look to them to contribute as the season rolls on.
“They’re all great players and they can contribute any given day,” said Marc Burch of the homegrown trio, "so I think [the academy’s] working well."
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