Chris Durkin - DC United - closeup - in warmup top
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Homegrown teen Chris Durkin ready to step up for shorthanded DC United

WASHINGTON – With Ulises Segura on international duty and Junior Moreno nursing a hamstring injury, D.C. United Homegrown Player Chris Durkin could make his first MLS start in Saturday’s trip to Columbus Crew SC (6 pm ET | MLS LIVE; on DAZN in Canada).

The 18-year-old Durkin has appeared off the bench in all three of D.C.’s games this season, putting in a 20-minute shift to replace the injured Moreno in a 2-2, come-from-behind draw against Houston in Week 3.

Coach Ben Olsen still has a couple more seasoned options in Ian Harkes and Jared Jeffrey that he could use to fill those midfield slots. But he insists experience won’t be the primary factor in filling out his team sheet.

“I think you guys have been around me enough to know that if someone is ready, we’ll put him on the field,” Olsen said after training Tuesday.

Olsen admitted the door appears open for Durkin, though he added that Harkes also remains an option at the No. 6 role. It’s possible – maybe even likely – that the pair could play together in central midfield Saturday, with Harkes slightly more advanced.

Durkin is with United after playing more than a dozen games with USL affiliate Richmond last season. He also featured for the US Under-17 national team at the Concacaf U-17 Championship and FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Despite playing only 47 MLS minutes this season, Durkin has already entered matches when his side are trying to kill off the game, and when they’re being forced to chase it.

“I think every game has been a completely different game,” Durkin said. “The most important part is I’m feeling more comfortable. I’ve started to find my feet a little more each game. I feel confident, and I think each one has been a really great learning experience. I think it can only get better.”

Olsen is also facing a depth shortage this week, thanks to five international call-ups. The biggest among those is probably Hungarian midfielder Zoltan Stieber, who has started all three of D.C.’s games this season.

“A lot of call-ups for this group, it’s good,” Olsen said. “We want to see guys playing in these internationals. But the other side of that is opportunities for guys to step in and help the group.”

D.C. may have a less-than-full bench in Columbus, however. With midfielder Russell Canouse (knee) and defender Taylor Kemp (groin) still a couple weeks away from returning, there were only 17 active players participating in full training on Tuesday.