Homegrown defender Donovan Pines has enjoyed a successful start to his MLS career since making his debut in the 3-2 road win against Colorado on April 13. In his first three appearances, the center back has been a dominant force for the Black-and-Red’s backline and has impressed fans with his tackling and aerial ability. With Pines in the starting lineup, D.C. United are 2-1-0, including two vital road wins.
After playing three seasons for the University of Maryland, Pines was signed to a Homegrown contract in January 2019. While in college, Pines earned a number of honors including Big Ten All-Freshman Team (2016), All-Big Ten First Team (2018), and Second Team All-American (2018). In 2018 Pines led the Terrapins to their fourth NCAA championship recording a clean sheet in the final against the University of Akron. After the tournament, Pines was named to the 2018 College Cup All-Tournament Team.
Following his success at the collegiate level, Pines has continued to progress in MLS. Through his first three matches, the center back has recorded six interceptions, four blocked shots, and 24 clearances. His clearances tally places him in the top 50 in MLS, but no other player has made more clearances through three matches. Standing at six-feet-five-inches, Pines is able to use his size and physicality to consistently beat opponents in the air. He has already recorded 15 headed clearances and won 10 out of 15 of his aerial duels this season. While Pines is known for dominating opposing strikers, he has also shown that he is capable of chipping in on the offensive end. In his MLS debut against the Colorado Rapids on April 13, Pines provided an assist for Luciano Acosta’s goal in the 35th minute. He also had a controversial goal disallowed by VAR in the match against Minnesota on April 28, 2019.
Head coach Ben Olsen placed his trust in the young defender and Pines has rewarded that trust by stringing together a series of impressive performances. At just 21-years-old, Pines has shown the maturity and poise needed to be a successful center back in MLS. Fans should be delighted to see the progression of yet another Homegrown player donning the Black-and-Red.