22: Perry Kitchen
Pos: M | D.C. United | Age: 21
Mr. Consistency. The third-year midfielder has been one of the few bright spots in a rough 2013 campaign for D.C. United, starting all but one of the club's 28 games thus far. Kitchen continues to provide a combination of tenacity and discipline (he has only four yellow cards this season) from his defensive midfield spot as well as the occasional offensive spark, scoring one goal and assisting on four others during a frustrating 2013 campaign in the nation's capital. He might not be as flashy as some of the other players on this list, but Kitchen's consistency is impressive considering he is still only 21 years old. He's just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential.
What TDs and coaches like: "He’s very competitive. He doesn’t back down from anything or anyone. ... Can be very smart with the ball and knows his position. ... I think his best attribute is his competitive nature. ... I think he has progressed. I think even though the team hasn't been successful, this has been a pretty good year for him. ... He's a little more calm in his position, he's a little more tactical, and I think he's much better at distributing the ball this year than he has been in the past. He's definitely getting better. ... Good work ethic. ... I think he's unique in the sense that he's capable with both feet. It allows him to open up the game from side to side equally. That's an important trait in that position in which you see a lot of players only able to go that one way and have difficulty with their other foot. ... From a pure soccer perspective, he understands the game, and he understands the demands of the position. He's got a good engine. ... He doesn't get the accolades that maybe he would in another team performing at the same level."
Where TDs and coaches want improvement: "I think he can be better on the ball. ... For me, sometimes he gets caught up trying to be too physical. ... Probably still needs to work on composure at his position, tactical acumen and distribution. I wasn't sure if he was going to get those things, but this year he's showing a spike up in all of those areas, which I think bodes well for his future. ... I think there is a tendency from him to overcommit on things. Certainly, with the way the season has been going, there is a tendency to lose his emotions sometimes. I think you can get at him that way. ... On one hand, it's been magnificent that he's been able to get as many games and minutes as he has, but on another hand I think he's been thrown into the fire -- certainly in the beginning -- maybe a little bit too soon. ... He's a player that's at a crossroad right now. If he is to bring his game to the next level and realize the possibilities that many people talk about, it's up to him and his approach and his mentality. He does have the skill set, the tactical awareness and he's certainly physically capable of handling himself and dishing it out in this league. It's going to be interesting to see where he takes that in the next couple of years."
Opta Says: Oriol Rosell (198) is the only field player under the age of 24 with more ball recoveries than Perry Kitchen (196).