While D.C. United Homegrown Chris Durkin is only 17 years old, the midfielder has already started turning heads in the soccer world thanks to his impressive performances with the Under-17 U.S. Men's National Team. Durkin spent much of the past year with the U-17s, culminating with a memorable five-game run at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India.
“It’s been an amazing experience,” Durkin said of his time with the national team. “Being with the U-17s has been one of the best parts of my career so far.”
Although the Baby Nats' run ended in a disappointing loss to England in the quarterfinals, Durkin gained invaluable international experience helping lead the U-17s to their first World Cup knockout round win since 1999.
The Glen Allen, Va., native was a staple in the U.S. lineup, starting all five matches and playing a full 450 minutes in the tournament. In the team’s opening game against the host nation, Durkin nimbly converted off a corner kick in front of a rowdy crowd of 46,351 at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi for his first World Cup goal, earning himself Man of the Match honors for the effort.
“That was awesome,” Durkin said of scoring. “I called my parents right when I got back to the hotel. It was a great moment to share and created a sense of personal pride.”
The 17-year-old was also a key contributor during qualifying, scoring once at the 2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship and earning a spot in the tournament’s best XI.
At the World Cup, head coach John Hackworth called upon the versatile Durkin to switch between positions, which he did effortlessly in crucial situations throughout the tournament.
“I knew the team was going to need me to be flexible between my positions with center back and six. Obviously, I wanted to give all I had for the team and just take it one game at a time. With the World Cup and every game being so important, I think I was ready for the task whether I was at center back or six."
When not with the national team, Durkin spent time with United’s USL affiliate, the Richmond Kickers, making 11 starts. There, the midfielder found room to further refine his game, registering 17 interceptions and four shots on target.
“Down in Richmond, I thought I developed a lot, and I was able to take that to the World Cup and do well on a personal level. I think all of these experiences over the past season have made me grow as a player, and I’ll take it into next season.”
Moving forward, Durkin will look to continue to build on his recent international experience and earn time with the Black-and-Red in 2018. While the midfielder's dream of winning a World Cup with the U-17s didn't come to fruition, Durkin has already turned his focus toward his next goal.
“Last year I was traveling a lot with the U-17s and didn’t get to spend a lot of time in D.C., but my new personal goal is to try to gain more minutes here at D.C. and to come into preseason ready to fight for a spot.”