Late summer reserve league matches can often be the brutaldefinition of mundane. Sandwiched between make-or-break league affairs, reservecontests lack the intensity of their weekend counterparts.
But for five members of D.C. United’s Academy, Monday’s matchagainst New York was a rare opportunity to test themselves againstprofessionals – and potentially take another step in impressing clubmanagement.
“It was great,” said Nigel Robinson, who made his firstreserve league appearance for the Black-and-Red. “Everyone is way stronger and bigger so it was good to seewhat that is like and get used to it. This is where I want to be, playing with these guys.”
Robinson is a prime example of Academy success leading to first team action. During last week’s trip to the prestigious Generation adidas Cup inSeattle, the speedy product of Prince William County’s Forest Park High Schoolscored five goals in five matches. On Monday, he started – and played all ninety minutes - in D.C.’s 3-1win.
Robinson was joined by Ian Harkes, Cristhyan Najar, DennisNajar and Suli Dainkeh – who scored in the 6th minute of Monday’s match - asrepresentatives from the club’s youth development system.
“You want them to have an idea of what our structure is,”said assistant Chad Ashton, who coached United’s reserves on Monday. “It gives them a very goodunderstanding of what would be expected of them should they ever step into afirst team game.”
On Monday, D.C.’s first-teamers made a clear effort to aidein the education of their younger teammates. None was more vocal than midfielder Danny Cruz, who sharedconstant instruction while playing between Cristhyan Najar and Robinson onUnited’s right flank.
“You just want to be positive with them,” noted Cruz, whoscored on a well-driven shot in the second half. “You want to let them know that they are not out of place. Ijust wanted to communicate that to them and I think they all did really well.”
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