DeLeon - Pontius - Kitchen - Najar

Four straight years of rookie rousers

With Nick DeLeon’s 2012 MLS Rookie of Year nomination, he joins teammates Chris Pontius, Andy Najar, and Perry Kitchen as the fourth consecutive top candidate from D.C. United for the award.

Nick DeLeon
University of Louisville; 2012 MLS Rookie of the Year Finalist
The Black-and-Red’s first selection in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft (7th overall) Nick DeLeon has continued the club’s recent string of rookies making an immediate impact. Playing in 28 games (25 starts) in his first professional season, DeLeon broke United’s rookie goal-scoring record with six tallies in 2012, also contributing four assists in the process. Previous record-holders included Santino Quaranta (2001), Freddy Adu (2004) and Andy Najar (2010), who all notched five goals in their inaugural MLS campaigns. In three post-season games, DeLeon has added two goals to his rookie totals, including the game-winner against New York on November 8 that propelled United to the Eastern Conference finals.

2012 Finalists: (Winner to be named on November 19)
Austin Berry (Chicago Fire)
Nick DeLeon (D.C. United)
Darren Mattocks (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)

Perry Kitchen
University of Akron; 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year Finalist
In 2011, Perry Kitchen became the only rookie in United’s 16-year history to lead the team in minutes played (2,726) during his inaugural MLS season. The then-19-year-old played in 31 MLS matches (30 starts), missing only three League contests due to international duty with the U.S. U-20’s. Kitchen scored his first League goal on May 29 against the Portland Timbers, helping the Black-and-Red to a 3-2 win at JELD-WEN Field. A stalwart in the central midfield, Kitchen has proven himself to be a defensive rock right from the start.

2011 Finalists:
Michael Farfan (Philadelphia Union)
Perry Kitchen (D.C. United)
C.J. Sapong (Sporting Kansas City)

Andy Najar
D.C. United Academy; 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year
At 17-years-old on March 22, 2010, Andy Najar became the second player in D.C. United history to sign with the senior squad directly from the Academy (goalkeeper Bill Hamid was the first). On March 27, 2010, Najar became the ninth-youngest player to start an MLS match. Najar would go on to have an explosive rookie year, scoring seven goals and tallying two assists across all competitions. Besides being selected as the Rookie of the Year, Najar also collected club accolades by earning the Volkswagen MVP, Volkswagen Fans’ Choice and Golden Boot awards.

2010 Finalists:
Danny Mwanga (Philadelphia Union)
Andy Najar (D.C. United)
Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls)

Chris Pontius
UC-Santa Barbara; 2009 MLS Rookie of the Year Finalist
Selected 7th overall in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, Chris Pontius wasted no time showing his capabilities in his rookie season. Sixty-two minutes into the first match of the’09 season, Pontius scored his first professional goal against the LA Galaxy, a beautiful, bending strike to the far post. Pontius played in 30 MLS games (23 starts) in 2009, notching eight goals and six assists across all competitions.

2009 Finalists:
Stefan Frei (Toronto FC)
Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy)
Chris Pontius (D.C. United)