Friday, April 15, 2011

United's Academy Pays Off

With a whole day remaining before the first of four epic 'Clasico' matches between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid to write about, today is a good day to get caught up on important recent club news at DC United.  And no recent club news is more encouraging than the announcement last month that United legend Jaime Moreno was becoming United's Youth Academy Technical Training Coach.  In other words, our very own MLS scoring legend, is going to help teach our young developmental players, how to score goals and lots of them.  And that is very, very good news for DC United indeed.

Moreno is joining United's Academy at a moment when the program is really beginning to pay off for the club.  This past Saturday, April 9th, DC United quietly made MLS history when it became the first professional American soccer club to field three homegrown players on the pitch at the same time-- 2010 MLS Rookie of the year Andy Najar (Alexandria Virginia); goalkeeper Bill Hamid (Annandale Virginia); and defenseman Ethan White (Kensington Maryland).  (Although Najar is a Honduran national, he was discovered by United and brought into the Academy while he was still in High School at TC Williams in Alexandria, the same school of the movie 'Remember the Titans' fame).

With more than 32 Academy graduates who have gone on play collegiate soccer, plus one graduate, Samir Badr, who signed with FC Porto in Portugal, DC United's developmental program is starting to blossom.  Given the success that many European sides have historically enjoyed with their developmental programs (Barca's benchmark La Masia academy comes to mind), it is super-encouraging to see United's developmental efforts start to show up on the pitch wearing our kit.  Now that Sr. Moreno is back showing the talented young Academy students How It's Done, I expect that in the future we will start to see more DC United Academy graduates on the pitch across the MLS and at RFK.