Once official word reached RFK that D.C. United midfielderAndy Najar would represent Honduras in the upcoming Olympics, it didn’t takelong for the news to spread around the venerable stadium. Surrounding the announcement was agroundswell of pride, perhaps because – while the Black-and-Red haveplaced players in World Cups and Olympics before – never have those playersbeen homegrown.
“It’s a testament to our academy staff that put a lot oftime in with Andy,” General Manager Dave Kasper said from his office Fridayafternoon. “There’s a great senseof pride when you have an individual like Andy rise through your programstarting in the academy structure, winning Rookie of the Year and now on theOlympic stage. Certainly, as anorganization, we are very proud of him.”Across the board, United’s players were buzzing aboutNajar’s call-up. But perhaps nonewill be a bigger Honduras fan come the London games than fellow academy productConor Shanosky. The midfielder,who is enjoying a successful season-long loan with the NASL’s Ft. LauderdaleStrikers, counts Najar as a close friend since the two met through United’s academyin early 2010. For the NorthernVirginia native, Najar’s success is a source of both pride and inspiration.
“It inspires me a lot,” Shanosky said this week. “We’ve come from the same system and heis at such a high level. TheOlympics are a big deal, and it makes me want to get there all the more.”
Najar leaves for Olympic duty on July 2nd, giving the19-year-old a little over three weeks to prepare alongside his teammates beforeHonduras opens the tournament against Morocco on July 26. Games against Spain and Japan willround out Los Catrachos Group Dslate.
When he left Honduras at age 13, Najar did so in search ofopportunity and - with his ticket to London assured – he’ll now have hisbiggest one to date.
“I can only thank God for this,” Najar said in a Spanishlanguage interview Thursday. “I’llbe representing not only my country, but my family as well. The Olympics are a dream for everyplayer and I get the chance to live it.”