At the end of a season with few bright spots, D.C. United have a long list of things to do in an effort to return to their winning ways.
United checked off one of the important tasks of the offseason on Tuesday, inking talented 17-year-old midfielder and MLS Rookie of the Year Andy Najar to a multi-year deal.
Deployed as a right winger for the majority of the 2010 campaign, Najar sparkled while making the transition from the DC United Academy team to the full team. With quickness and speed that easily transitioned to the professional level, he was a handful for opposing defenses, scoring five goals in 26 games.
“Andy had a brilliant rookie season and is the most exciting young player in the league,” DC general manager Dave Kasper said in a press release. “One of our top priorities this offseason was to agree to a new deal with Andy that would both reward him for his contributions and secure his future with D.C. United.”
Najar’s successes in MLS in 2010 were enough to raise questions if the young midfielder would someday play for the US national team or his native Honduras. He’s largely stayed away from questions involving his international career, instead opting to put the focus on DC.
That’s good news for United, and for the club’s current youth movement. Najar and goalkeeper Bill Hamid are the faces of the team’s successful youth academy, which also produced Conor Shanosky in 2010 and added University of Maryland defender Ethan White through the homegrown rule.
By rewarding the winger after his excellent start to a professional career, United have committed to building and improving with a young team, with players like Najar and Hamid the centerpieces.
“I'm extremely happy for Andy and his family,” D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen said in a press release. “He is deserving of this contract and I look forward to seeing him grow within this organization.”