Thursday, November 4, 2010

Najar MLS Rookie of the Year

At last!  Something positive to report about DC United!  Having endured a perfectly dreadful season, today DC United fans woke up to the news that the league has named United newcomer Andy Najar as the MLS Rookie of the year, beating out Red Bulls defender Tim Ream, and Philadelphia Union forward Danny Mwanga for the honor.  At the age of 17, Andy Najar is now officially the youngest player in the 15 year history of the MLS, to win the award.  The last time that a player from DC United won the award was in 1998, when current United interim head coach Ben Olsen was given the honor.

The young man has an interesting background.  A Honduran immigrant, Andy Najar is a product of DC United's youth academy, where his precocious talent was spotted.  When he was offered a professional contract before he was even out of High School, young Najar sensibly took the money, dropped out of Edison High School, and turned professional with United.  (According to The Washington Post, Najar is working with a private tutor to obtain his High School GED equivalency).

According to United General Manager Dave Kasper, "We knew in preseason that we had a special player.  We weren't sure if he would become a starter quickly, but when he got a shot early, he ran with it."

This award, coming on top of United naming Najar as their Most Valuable Player of the Year on Monday, has clearly marked young Andy Najar as a player to watch in the future.  Beyond his modest statistics, Najar exhibited an  unpredictable style that tormented defenders. With blinding footwork and deceptive moves, he opened space for himself in the attack.  Against the Houston Dynamo late in the season, Najar made a superb shifting run across the penalty area that produced a goal, a taste of things to come, we hope.

Najar has been quoted as saying that the award is "exciting for me, it's exciting for the club and our academy.  This year has been hard for the club, so it is great to have this award, but our focus is on getting better next season."

Rumor has it that United will be shipping Najar overseas to either England or Spain, to further burnish his skills, before United's training camp reopens in January.  Najar is also expected to receive a pay raise (not including bonuses), on top of his current $59,000 salary.

Not bad money, for a 17 year old kid.