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United's players test coaching skills

After training Wednesday morning, Black-and-Red's players put to work

Liam Nagle is a big D.C. United fan.  The youngster recently celebrated his birthday at RFK, cheering along with friends as the Black-and-Red downedHouston back in late April.  Onthat day, Nagle got to see Perry Kitchen – a player the 9-year old counts among hisfavorites – go the full ninety minutes in a thrilling 3-2 win.

But on Wednesday night, the tables were turned.  D.C.’s young midfielder was the onecheering as Nagle dribbled down the field at Long Bridge Park in Arlington.

“The players are great,” said Nagle’s father Ken, one of a hundred or so parents gathered at the latest D.C. United Community Soccer Series eventpresented by Volkswagen.  “[Theplayers] are calm, they are dealing with kids that are kind of all over theplace. But it’s going exactly how I would have expected.”

A product of America’s rapidly evolving youth soccer system,Kitchen has spent most of his life on the opposite side of the player-coachrelationship.

“It’s not easy I’ll tell you that,” Kitchen said with alaugh. “[Daniel] Woolard and I were out there scrambling trying to geteverybody’s attention.  It’s atough age to teach, but it’s also a very important one.”

Nearly 200 children - ages seven to twelve - were registeredfor Wednesday’s free event, the third of five such outings scheduled this year bythe club.  That many kids requireda major commitment from United’s first team as Marcelo Saragosa, Maicon Santos,Chris Korb and Nick DeLeon joined Kitchen and Woolard on coaching duty.

“It’s great spending time with the kids,” added Woolard, whoalong with his teammates signed autographs for about an hour after theevent.  “The energy and fun theyhave, it rejuvenates you and makes the game fun again.”