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For Perry Kitchen, it's about mental strength

"He gives everything every single day. It’s impressive," Arnaud on Kitchen

Sometimes, it’s a thankless job. A defensive midfielder has to be among the fittest, strongest and most disciplined on the field, yet gets the least recognition.

“I’m used to that by now,” D.C. United defensive midfielder Perry Kitchen said. “I kind of think of it as the lineman in football. If the running back has a good play and the lineman has great blocks, they’re not going to give the lineman the credit, at least not typically in the media anyway. I know what comes with the position. When it gets notoriety, it’s good, but saying that, goals always get more recognition than hard work.”

VOTE: Perry Kitchen for AT&T MLS All-Star

There was no bitterness in his voice, though. It was acceptance and willingness to work hard to better himself for the team’s benefit, not for the recognition. This mentality is what stands out to veteran Davy Arnaud.

“The way he goes about his business everyday— that’s what I have the most respect for with Perry. He’s obviously strong, he reads the game well and he is good with his feet; all the things you have to have to be a good central midfielder. The thing I admire the most is the way he comes out everyday; he gives everything every single day. It’s impressive.”

Kitchen is impressing more than just his teammates who see the effort he puts in day-in and day-out. Matthew Doyle of mlssoccer.com said Kitchen is “well on his way to inclusion in Jurgen Klinsmann’s plans for the 2018 cycle.” Arnaud agrees.

“There’s no reason he shouldn’t be [at the 2018 World Cup], with how young he is and how much experience he has,” Arnaud stated. “I admired Perry playing against him, but now playing with him consistently, it’s been a pleasure so far.”

The feeling is mutual. Kitchen, 22, is grateful to have Arnaud, 34, to learn from. Like Kitchen, Arnaud also has an all-or-nothing attitude.

“He does the work load and puts in a great shift every training session, so that’s definitely something I can look up to,” Kitchen said of Arnaud. “He’s always a guy I can speak with if I have questions about what I’m doing on the field, so that’s nice to have around.”

With Arnaud and Kitchen in the middle of the park for D.C. United, work rate, passion and determination will never be an issue. On a personal level, it’s what Kitchen prides himself on.

“I feel like I’ve always been like that,” he explained. “I don’t feel comfortable with myself if I take a day off or if I go out to training and just go through the motions. I like to stay sharp and know that I’m getting the most out of the training session. I’ll always be like that.”