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2010 in Review: Best & worst of D.C. United

Young star emerges in otherwise forgettable season in Washington

Najar

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

WASHINGTON – D.C. United entered 2010 with cautious optimism. Incoming head coach Curt Onalfo led a parade of new faces as the club looked to infuse the squad with youth while remaining competitive in the MLS playoff race.

But even United’s most modest hopes were horribly crushed over the course of a historically bad season, which kicked off with a 4-0 hammering at the hands of the Kansas City Wizards and rarely improved in the months thereafter.

With his team spiraling towards a last-place finish, Onalfo was dismissed in August and while many young players earned valuable experience, the Black-and-Red must now enter another round of offseason rebuilding. Here is the best and worst of the season.

Best moment of the year

Highlights came few and far between for DC in 2010, but club legend Jaime Moreno’s emotional sendoff in the season finale at RFK Stadium proved to be an unforgettable occasion. A large home crowd paid tribute to perhaps the greatest MLS player of all time, and Moreno duly capped the evening with one last strike to run his career total to a league-leading 133 goals.

Worst moment

United were pushed out of the playoff picture by midsummer, but they took solace in a US Open Cup run that offered one last chance for glory. Yet in early September, that, too, came crashing down as Columbus snatched an injury-time equalizer, then an overtime winner, to vanquish DC in an agonizing cup semifinal at RFK.

Best goal

United’s official GOTY nod went to Andy Najar’s clutch extra-time winner in a USOC play-in match against Real Salt Lake. But MLSsoccer.com will pluck for the 17-year-old’s stunning solo effort against Houston in September, where he took down a 60-yard cross-field pass and embarrassed two defenders before stroking a left-footed finish past veteran goalkeeper Pat Onstad.

WATCH: Najar punishes Houston defense

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Best save

Just as Najar gave United fans hope at the attacking end, his fellow rookie (and academy product) Bill Hamid proved he was ready for the pro level with some quality goalkeeping in ’10. His top highlight: an instinctive, point-blank block of a shot by Kansas City’s Jack Jewsbury on May 5 to secure DC’s first league win.

WATCH: Hamid deflects Jewsbury blast

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Team MVP

MLS Rookie of the Year Andy Najar lit up United’s gloomy campaign with relentless running punctuated by moments of jaw-dropping skill and ingenuity on the right flank. The young Honduran finished as the team’s co-leading scorer and shows all the signs of becoming a superstar in the years to come.

Best newcomer

This honor must also go to Najar, who was an unheralded local teenager when United signed him to a senior contract in the days leading up to the season opener. Even the DC technical staff did not expect the explosive coming-out party that soon unfolded.

Ready to Launch: MLS Matchday 2010, The official MLS iPhone app. It's FREE! Download it here!