The headlines all include one name: Taylor Kemp. A bright spot on a luminous night for D.C. United, the 2013 first round SuperDraft pick turned heads in his second start and third appearance of the 2014 MLS season.
After a rocky match at Houston on August 3rd, the University of Maryland product showed a short memory and the type of resiliency that has defined D.C. United this year.
“He looked like a different guy tonight,” Assistant Coach Chad Ashton said. “He looked super confident and played really well. He had two assists, he was aggressive defensively and never let his guy get set and run at him.”
Kemp asserted himself from his left back position, stepping forward with an aggressive move to play Luis Silva through to goal. His first career assist was just the beginning of an impressive night.
“I saw the ball coming to [Nick] LaBrocca, I figured he had his back to me so he probably didn’t see me coming,” Kemp said. “He took a touch, and it fell right to me. I took it, looked up. Luis made a great run, slipped it through, and he had a really good finish.”
In between Kemp’s first and second assist, Colorado’s Dillon Serna answered Silva’s tally with a screamer that only momentarily deterred the Black-and-Red. Just fifteen minutes later, United answered back with Silva’s second goal on the night. Kemp then helped put the game away.
In the 81st minute, Colorado played a ball deep into United’s half. Lewis Neal cut off the pass at the top of the Black-and-Red penalty box, finding Davy Arnaud with one touch. Keeping possession, Arnaud played the ball square to Kemp, who took his first touch into space just outside the penalty area. He wouldn’t give up the ball until he’d nearly reached the Colorado end line more than 75 yards away.
In eight touches, Kemp flew down the sideline, blowing passed several Rapids players. With his ninth touch, he slotted the ball back to a driving Chris Rolfe at the top of the eighteen.
In Kemp’s words: “Late, you just want to keep the ball. I think it was 82 minutes in. So, in my head, I saw the space and I figured there wasn’t a whole lot coming to help. I figured I would just get to the corner and hold the ball up and try to seal the game off.
“I was running up and kind of saw a guy in black coming up, and I heard Rolfie give me a shout, and I looked, and he was there,” Kemp said. “He’s a great finisher, so I knew if I just got it near him, he’d probably do the rest, and he did.”
Head Coach Ben Olsen saw the play unfold a bit differently from his spot on the sideline, but tipped his hat to the youngster.
“I didn’t see Rolfe, so I was about to ask him why the hell he would cross the ball to nobody, then there Rolfe was,” said Olsen. “It was a hell of a pass and it capped off a good night for him.”
The Black-and-Red boss’s confidence in Kemp hadn’t wavered after the Houston match, and Kemp rewarded that good faith with a performance from which he’ll continue to build.
“I’m extremely happy for him,” said Olsen. “It’s just a matter of him believing in the tools that he has, because they’re there. Tonight was a big step for him.”