Teen phenom Najar takes MLS Rookie of the Year

NEW YORK --- Most pundits made the Rookie of the Year award a two-horse race between New York defender Tim Ream and Philadelphia forward Danny Mwanga.  However, Andy Najar, D.C. United's 17-year-old phenom earned the award on Wednesday, becoming the first attacking player to win the honor since Clint Dempsey in 2004.

[inline_lightbox:14074]Najar is also the youngest player to ever win the award and just the second player to win the award for a last-place team, after Maurice Edu won for Toronto FC in 2007.

In what is sure to become a trend in coming years, the Honduran winger is the first MLS Rookie of the Year to emerge from a club’s youth academy. In fact, Najar was playing with D.C.’s academy squad in February, but impressed enough in preseason to earn a contract just before the 2010 season kicked off.

Najar rewarded United for its faith with seven goals and two assists in all competitions, and showed himself to be a durable, smart and unpredictable player in 26 league appearances. Earlier this week D.C. United named Najar their team MVP and also dubbed his goal against Real Salt Lake during a U.S. Open Cup qualifier on June 2 as the team's goal of the year.

The last United player to win the Rookie of the Year award was Ben Olsen, who accomplished the feat in 1998. Olsen served as D.C. United's interim coach this season and passed along his former jersey No. 14 to Najar for the season.

RELATED: Q&A with Andy Najar