Olsen on Najar: "Future right back of this team"
With his depth at outside back plagued by injuries to DanielWoolard and Robbie Russell, Head Coach Ben Olsen has some difficult decisionsto make on the perimeter of his defense.
But with regard to one particular option, it seems Olsen’smind – in the long term anyway – is all but made up.
“And we’ve got Andy Najar, who I think is probably thefuture right back of this team,” Olsen said on the Capital Soccer Show thisweek, while rounding out a list of different players he could rely on indefense for Wednesday night’s key showdown against Chicago.
Najar, who played the final half hour of D.C.’s 1-1 drawwith Philadelphia at right back, has been used almost exclusively at rightmidfield for the bulk of his brief MLS career. Though Sunday’s shift wasn’t a first for the 19-year-old -Olsen has previously dropped Najar back late in games as a creative way ofgetting one more attacking player on the field - the difficulty of themid-match move shouldn’t be overlooked.
The Hondurans’ lone full-time audition at right back cameduring a May 5 visit to Toronto FC. Najar played all ninety minutes in defense and D.C. earned the third of six 2012 shutouts.
“We all have our idea of where Andy is best,” Olsencontinued. “The more I see him,the more I think at times he can be a very good right back. I even think, if he is going to get tothe next level, I think that might be a spot that makes the most sense for himto be at his best.”
During the final dramatic moments of Sunday’s clash with theUnion, Najar’s defensive skills were on full display. Isolated against FreddyAdu in a pivotal one-on-one duel, Najar waited out the skillful attacker’scountless feints before calmly stripping the ball.
Olsen – asked about Najar’s reaction to playing right back –found a reason to smile during what has been a difficult, and emotional, 72-hourstretch.
“I say it to him and he pretends like he doesn’t speakEnglish,” joked United’s second-year coach. “Andy is a great kid. He understands that right now, there is a time that we are going to needhim to do that and he has been great about it.”
D.C. United hosts the Chicago Fire on Wednesday, August 22 at 7:30 PM - PURCHASE TICKETS ONLINE