24 Under 24 (2012): #9 Andy Najar (IMAGE)
Gabriel de los Rios / MLSsoccer.com

24 Under 24: #9 Andy Najar, DC United

9. Andy Najar

Pos: D/M | D.C. United | Age: 19

The 2012 season is turning around for Andy Najar, who surprisingly had to fight his way into D.C. United's lineup to start the year. But the Honduran native seemed to be reenergized by playing for his country during Olympic qualifying and then in London, where his team reached the Olympic quarterfinals. Since returning he has strung together several positive performances for D.C., including at right back -- a move he's handled with aplomb. While the debate will rage on as to whether Najar is best employed as a winger or fullback, all United care about is that the 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year is reaching his best form with the season on the line.

What the TDs and coaches like: “An attacking player that’s very technical. … He keeps his head up so he reads the game very well and sees things. … I think he’s improved his all-around game … This year he was able to play right back very effectively as well as being an attacking player. … He’s a good player. He’s technical and has a good shot from distance. I think he is a right midfielder … He's one of the bright young stars in MLS ... He has shown this year that he can play a variety of positions ... He's a known quantity at such a young age and he's such a talented player, there's no doubt about it … For Najar, his opportunity to go over with the Honduras Olympic team and have success there does so much for your confidence and will bring him more into a leadership role in MLS … When he first came into the league at such a young age we saw flashes of his game and there are more and more flashes every time he plays … When he’s on the ball, he’s very quick. He can get a ball in and he sees the game ahead of plays. ... He offers good service and he can score himself. … He’s unpredictable. Is he going to go inside or outside? He’s always going to keep you guessing and he’s going to draw attention and open up things for his teammates with his game.”

Where TDs and coaches want improvement: “There’s more he can do. Like a lot of young players, he can’t think he’s arrived just because getting an opportunity with the first team and getting called up by Honduras … I thought he was better two years ago. Some teams have started to figure him out a little bit … He’s still a good player but he’s got to get back to what he was doing his first year or so as opposed to what he’s been doing the last year … He’s lost a bit of his form of late although there’s a lot of upside still … Size-wise, maybe at the next level it might more difficult for him as a fullback. I’d prefer him as wide midfielder type … I think he can do the business back there but there’s something more in the defending … Unless he’s an attacking outside back in the Brazilian style and going forward a lot. But teams in our league don’t play that system. For me I would see him more as a right midfielder.”

Opta Says: Of players younger than 24 who have attempted at least 45 open-play crosses in MLS this year, Andy Najar has the highest cross-completion percentage (28 percent).

Tale of the Tape
Last Year in 24U24: #3
Fan Ranking: #14
Castrol Index (as of 9/13/12): #235

2012 Stats
Matches played: 18
Matches started: 15
Goals: 0
Assists: 4

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