DC United speaking to Gregg Berhalter about Homegrowns: "He is watching"

Moses Nyeman - D.C. United - rides challenge

When discussing the US men’s national team’s 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup draw, head coach Gregg Berhalter turned some heads when mentioning a trio of youngsters developing at D.C. United.

He singled out Moses Nyeman, Kevin Paredes and Griffin Yow, all of whom are 18 or younger and making considerable first-team impacts this season as Homegrown Players. 

“You see a lot of players rising to the occasion and rising to the challenges,” Berhalter said at the time. “It wasn’t that common that such young players are playing now in MLS. You look at Moses Nyeman from D.C., you look at Kevin Paredes, Griffin Yow — those are good examples of young players making a good impact in the league. Other teams as well.”

Then speaking ahead of D.C.’s Saturday home game against Atlanta United (7 pm ET | TV & streaming info), head coach Ben Olsen confirmed that he’s had discussions with Berhalter about the club’s young trio. None have featured beyond the US U-17 national team, though they’re clearly on the radar screen – at least in a long-term sense.

Watch: Griffin Yow goal

“Yes I have had conversations with Gregg,” Olsen said. “Gregg’s a very hardworking coach and he watches every MLS game and probably about 100 games on the weekend from around the world. He is watching. 

“I think that's a good message to young players that in this league, that if you do well, that you’re going to be put on his radar. I think Gregg’s a brave coach and he’s got a lot of ideas and tactically if he sees a young player that’s going to fit into what he wants to do on the international stage, I don’t think he’ll be afraid to give kids a shot.”

Olsen said that Nyeman, 16, is likely to see more minutes as D.C. copes with injuries in midfield. He earned his first start last weekend, while Yow, an 18-year-old forward, also started in the 2-0 loss against the New England Revolution shortly after scoring his inaugural MLS goal. Meanwhile, Paredes is a 17-year-old midfielder who’s played the most (six starts, 10 appearances) out of the group but is currently injured.

Veteran center back Steve Birnbuam specifically spoke about Nyeman’s growth, adding that he sometimes runs too much. It’s an eagerness that he believes will settle down with more matches played.

“I think he’s done a great job coming in and he’s really composed on the ball,” Birnbaum said of Nyeman. “At a young age, to be that composed and to kind of dictate the game is something to see. He’s also got great spatial awareness, knowing where to find the little pockets and pick up balls. I think he’s got this kind of quickness to him that he can get out to players and you don’t really expect it. He’s a great player and we’re excited to have him in there and he’s doing a great job for us.”

Is a USMNT debut coming soon for any of D.C.’s youngsters? That doesn’t seem imminent, but they’re on a promising trajectory and capitalizing on their opportunity.