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D.C. United welcomes Andy Najar

najar-jersey-rfk.jpgAndy Najar just turned 17, though he looks younger. He is as shy as a mouse, speaks softly and, having arrived in the States from Honduras just three years ago, is much more comfortable conversing in Spanish than English.

But as D.C. United prepares to open the 2010 season, Najar's role might very well belie his nature and appearance. Signed from the club's youth academy after an impressive display at training camp, the 2009 All-Met selection from Edison High in Alexandria will compete for first-team playing time right away.

Asked if he were reluctant to play such a young prospect in a meaningful match, Coach Curt Onalfo said.....

"Absolutely not. Every time he stepped on the field for us, he did very, very well, even more so in 11-vs.-11 situations than in small-sided stuff. He is just a special kid who is going to get minutes for us this year.

"I call him the Little Warrior: 'Pequeña Guerra.' 'Pequeño Guerrero.' The thing that is so amazing about the kid is his concentration. Usually with young players, the light is turned off a lot, but with him, the concentration is that of a guy that has played for many years. From that standpoint, he just fights through things. He has got great instincts, and with guys like that, you just have to be careful and not give him too much information, and let him play."

Najar said he is most comfortable as a right-side midfielder or forward, though he was tested at right back and can play centrally.

His favorite player: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.

His favorite Honduran player: Tottenham's Wilson Palacios.

Birthplace: Santa Cruz in Choluteca, a department/region in southern Honduras near the Gulf of Fonseca and Pacific Ocean.

Najar will wear No. 14 -- Ben Olsen's revered jersey.

"I think it was Andy's idea, but he was so shy, he had his agent pester me," said Olsen, now an assistant coach. "I made him sweat a little bit. [smiling] But I don't care about that stuff. He's a great kid. Might as well someone better than me at soccer wear the 14."

By Steve Goff  |  March 23, 2010; 6:03 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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Next: Wednesday kickaround

Comments

Ben Olsen is the greatest person of this or any other era/civilization!

Posted by: DWE4 | March 23, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

re:Ben Olsen is the greatest person of this or any other era/civilization!

haha love it, and I agree!

Posted by: Pete803 | March 23, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Live up to it Andy. Looking forward to cheering you first goal.

Posted by: tcbannon | March 23, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see him fill an attacking midfield role. Simms and Castillo will take left and defensive midfield, respectively. However, that leaves the right and our center attacking midfield still open.

Will Quaranta make the move to CAM and leave the right open? I hope not. I don't know if Santino will be able to take on that role right away, so I say keep him on the wing. So that leaves a giant hole in the middle...Who will fill this void for us? I was thinking about giving Pontius that role and having the choice of Allsopp/Cristman/Moreno up top. Just a thought.

Posted by: redskinsux | March 23, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Love Benny!! I'd love to see him stick with coaching and take over the club someday.

Posted by: torrey151 | March 23, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see him fill an attacking midfield role.
Posted by: redskinsux
============

No pressure kid. We just expect you to be El Diablo Proximo.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 23, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

If he doesn't score 10 goals and get at least 8 assists I am going to call him a bust right away. Plus, I will demand that both he and Adu be erased from the history books of US Soccer. (Sarcasm)

I hope DC takes great care of Najar and brings him along slowly. I really like that our academy produces talent.

Posted by: grubbsbl | March 23, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Goff, nice tilde! Still can't figure out how to do that . .

Good for Ben, ballsy for Najar to ask for it!

Posted by: delantero | March 23, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

If Najar has only been in the country three years, I suppose this means that he's several years from US citizenship and that he'd likely prefer to play for Honduras if he turns out to be good enough for both national teams.

Posted by: mercedeskk | March 23, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

With all due respect to Andy, I would have preferred they retired Olsen's No. 14 jersey.

Doesn't mean I won't be screaming in encouragement every time the kid takes the pitch... :-)

Posted by: Juan-John1 | March 23, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Pequena Guerra would be Little War . . . let's hope this kid is actually a guerrero.

Three years should be plenty of time for a 14/15 year old to learn English . . . and this is coming from a pro-immigration lefty, here . . .

Anyway, glad Goff wrote this but I hope the press in general doesn't pay him too much attention. Move along, nothing to see here . . .

Posted by: fallschurch1 | March 23, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Olsen / Goff 2010 !!!

Posted by: diego_r | March 23, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

small war?
El guerrero pequeno maybe?
With Castillo who is young, nickname name them La Juventud Guerrera?

Posted by: TheWashDipsSince88 | March 23, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Onalfo needs to brush up on the Spanish but Little Warrior sounds like a good nickname.

Let's hope Najar is allowed to develop at a reasonable pace before people start calling him the next Pele / Maradona / Messi.

It's good to see DC getting value out of the youth system. Congratulations to Najar and I wish him a bright future.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | March 23, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm hoping Beninho changes his mind about retirement, then we can have 14A and 14B. Think Garber would allow this?

Posted by: bdwooton | March 23, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Channel 4 actually had Lindsay Czarniak talking about the team, and she even did lunch with Benny again. They shared a Toasted Marshmallow milk shake. Can't tell who was luckier... Ben or Lindsay...

Posted by: DadRyan | March 23, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

I wish this kid all the best.

Having said that...anyone see the 17-year-old Alava blow the game for Bayern Munich on Saturday in the span of about two minutes? It's a lot of pressure for a young player to be out there.

Posted by: DCB23 | March 23, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

I guess this means they won't be retiring Benny's number. They should.

Posted by: kdiff813 | March 23, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Hey Goff, any idea on his status when he came to this country? Was he here with a green card the second he came to the US?

Posted by: BolivianDCFan | March 23, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Also any idea if he would play for the US if it came down to it, assuming he ever got US citizenship and keeps growing and getting better?

Posted by: BolivianDCFan | March 23, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Wow, who needs draft picks when you can grow your own studs.

Posted by: DaninFL | March 23, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

I just don't understand how Ben Olsen is such an awesome dude, considering he went to UVA. He really had to fight against the odds to not emerge as a tool from that place.

Posted by: daandre3 | March 23, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Awesome, i'd rather reward a youth player with a contract than pick up some retread! If he works out great, if not at least we gave it and him a shot. Lets hope the academy starts producing a player every year or two.

Posted by: Brian76 | March 23, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

DadRyan:

Lindsay, no contest. Come on, it's hanging out with Ben Olsen or hanging out with a pretty woman who knows sports. There are many of the latter, but there's only one Benny Olsen.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | March 23, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Chest,

You make a good point. Still Lindsay is at her hottest when she finally gets around to talking about United a mere 2 days before the season starts. I'm that easy...

You join our mfls.com fantasy league yet? Argy Bargy Insiders...
password: united

ESPN finally opened up a game. I wonder if MLSSoccer.com will be operational and have a game running by Thursday?

Posted by: DadRyan | March 23, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

4 days until United's first match!

Posted by: Curious99 | March 23, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

The Little Warrior error was partly Onalfo's pronunciation, partly my listening skills.

So I fixed it.

Posted by: Steve Goff | March 23, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

I look at this kid as a bonus. Literally, he doesn't count toward the 24 man roster, and he's 17. While it sounds like he's contributing, my expectations will stay low for now.

However, it sounds good to have another player who can be labeled as a finesse player, besides Jaime. It would certainly be beneficial to have backup in the creativity department.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | March 23, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

"Argy Bargy Outsiders" for those left out of the "Argy Bargy Insiders" mfls.com league

password: united

Posted by: Brian76 | March 23, 2010 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Ok so I'm reading that Direct Kick will be doing a free kick off weekend thing again this season, and I'm wondering what this means for Verizon Fios folks in say, Arlington VA? Anyone know?
Will my neighbor buddies who get Fios be able to access United's match down in KC on Saturday evening?

Posted by: DadRyan | March 23, 2010 11:59 PM | Report abuse

I just don't understand how Ben Olsen is such an awesome dude, considering he went to UVA. He really had to fight against the odds to not emerge as a tool from that place.

Posted by: daandre3 | March 23, 2010 9:51 PM
-----------------------------------------------------

I'm guessing you went to UVA?

@Bolivian - As Goff has already written, Najar recently went to Honduras so he could get/pick up a work visa. I guess that was during his brief time away form United this preseason? Or, this was already in the works this offseason.

Posted by: fischy | March 24, 2010 12:27 AM | Report abuse

The #14 cannot be retired unless they retire the #10. That is not going to happen.

Posted by: DCU_Rick | March 24, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

I don't think one retires numbers in soccer. Certain numbers are for certain types of players, like #10 is usually reserved for the skillful playmaker, or 9 for the goal scorer and #1 for the starting keeper. Pele's number isn't retired on the brazil or santos teams.

Posted by: mizage | March 24, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

I just don't understand how Ben Olsen is such an awesome dude, considering he went to UVA. He really had to fight against the odds to not emerge as a tool from that place.

Posted by: daandre3

Hey now. There is civility here -- we (Hoos) don't even make fun of sitruc (VT).

Maryland is a perfectly legitimate target, though.

Posted by: Reignking | March 24, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Do soccer teams retire numbers? Back in the old days, the number of numbers a team could use was limited. It still is for int'l competition. And, since retiring a number is really an American thing, I doubt that it ever crossed the mind of a Euro or South American team. Another and, as mizage alluded to, if teams retired numbers there would be no 10s left and people would have no clue what Christopher Sullivan is talking about when he says "a true #10."

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 24, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Should be no trouble for us to retire #99 though... assuming #99 ever retires.

Posted by: JoeS3 | March 24, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Ben Olsen, a class act. I oppose cloning, but with Ben, I'd make an exception.

Looking forward to seeing Najar play -- and I love Onalfo's approach: let the kid play and don't overcoach him.

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | March 24, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I bet Najar is happy to be out of Choluteca! That's the hottest (in temperature) place in the country. Most of the best Honduran players come from the North Coast. (Caribbean) Choluteca borders the Gulf of Fonseca on the Pacific. Many people emigrate from there. Glad to have him with the black and red. Look forward to seeing him play.

Posted by: sbg1 | March 24, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Welcome Andy!

Hopefully this brings more Hondurans to the stadium and Castillo's signing brings more Salvadoreños.

Posted by: WorldCup | March 24, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Arlington FIOS has Direct Kick on channels 1490-1499. Good luck

Posted by: georgetownerjr | March 24, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

georgetownerjr,

Thanks for the info. I'll be pestering the boys in the hood about that.

Posted by: DadRyan | March 24, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Andy, I am sure that you are gonna tear it up! I am blown i will miss your first game this Saturday. but i wish you the best of luck friend. I will always remember Edison soccer and how i can say i played with Andy Najar Rodriguez!!!! Vamos Feo!!!

Posted by: realmickey18 | March 26, 2010 2:03 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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