Jan 30, 2013, 5:46 PM EDT
First Shea. Then Kamara. Now Andy Najar appears to be leaving Major League Soccer. It’s a move that’s been churned by the mill all winter, but in the wake of two other name players leaving MLS before the season starts, Najar’s departure looks like part of a larger trend.
More on later. For now, let’s talk about the deal D.C. United just confirmed. The 19-year-old Honduran international moves to the biggest club in Belgium, Anderlecht, for a reported $3 million. That’s the same team that acquired Sacha Kljestan two-and-a-half years ago, albeit for $750,000.
“I would like to thank everyone connected to the club for everything that has been done to help me and my family since I joined the academy years ago,” Najar said via a release posted to the club’s website. “A special thanks to my coach Ben Olsen and all of his staff. I came to D.C. United and chose #14 because I wanted to follow in his footsteps.
“It has been very rewarding to watch Andy grow and develop into becoming the special player that he is,” said D.C. United General Manager Dave Kasper said. “We wish Andy all of the success in the world and we look forward to watching his career blossom.”
Najar, who is part of the team that will face the U.S. when final round World Cup qualifying begins on Feb. 6, is a former MLS Rookie of the Year who made his debut in 2010. During his time in the league Najar’s been gradually shifted from right wing to right back, a position he held in Ben Olsen’s starting lineup as D.C. United finished second in the Eastern Conference.
In the playoffs, an aberrational mistake from Najar incurred a three-match suspension when he kicked a ball at referee Jair Marrufo during the first leg of United’s conference semifinal against the New York Red Bulls. That may be the last act of Najar’s Major League Soccer career.
“Andy is an extremely hard player to replace with our group but I’m excited for him and the opportunity he has in front of him,” Olsen said.
With their portion of the $3 million sale, D.C. will have a chance to go out and get a replacement, and while that player won’t have the emotional attachment to the D.C. faithful Najar developed after coming through as a 16-year-old Home Grown Player, United should have options. Even if they put their new money elsewhere, right backs being what they are, D.C. should be able to make up for Najar’s loss.
Ultimately, they (and the league) got a very good price. Very few right backs in world soccer go for large fees. That Najar is so talented at such a young age manes he’s one of the few a big club like Anderlecht would be willing to take a chance on. Given how few Major League Soccer players could ever hope for such a high evaluation, D.C.’s gets a minor windfall from the sale.
For now, Robbie Russell is Ben Olsen’s obvious replacement, but don’t be surprised if Olsen explores other options. Between Chris Korb on the left and the combination of Perry Kitchen (in 2011) and Najar on the right, D.C.’s head coach has preferred a different type of player at his fullback positions. Now 33 years old, Russell now projects to be as much as a center half as a fullback.
You want the best players possible at each position, but particularly in Major League Soccer, fullbacks are game defining players. In the bigger picture, there are very few Daniel Alves and Ashley Cole-caliber players in the world, and nobody’s projected Najar, talented though he might be, to get to that level.
He might prove worth a few million more one day, particularly if he comes good as a right winger, but if you’re D.C. and planning to keep Andy Najar at right back, you snatch Anderlecht’s $3 million, kiss the lad on the cheek, and tell him to enjoy Belgium.
Aug 31, 2014, 1:37 AM EDT
A controversial penalty provided RSL’s equalizer as the teams shared points at Buck Shaw.
Aug 31, 2014, 12:53 AM EDT
A second half explosion helped Caleb Porter’s team claim fifth in the Western Conference.
Aug 31, 2014, 12:20 AM EDT
Not the expected sight: Jermaine Jones as the USMNT midfielder walking off the field with three points, not TFC’s Michael Bradley.
Aug 30, 2014, 11:11 PM EDT
Red Devils’ boss was happy with the opportunities his team generated at Turf Moor.
Aug 30, 2014, 10:51 PM EDT
A late goal from Robert Earnshaw snaps FCD’s unbeaten run.
Aug 30, 2014, 9:52 PM EDT
Igancio Piatti’s first two goals give the Impact their second win in three games.
Aug 30, 2014, 9:23 PM EDT
Three superb games are coming your way on Sunday. Here’s a look at what to expect from all three.
Aug 30, 2014, 9:01 PM EDT
Defense was Pellegrini’s biggest concern after Saturday’s 1-0 loss.
Aug 30, 2014, 8:46 PM EDT
New England’s locker room was abuzz after the team thumped Toronto FC 3-0 in its own house… even before new boy Jermaine Jones subbed on.
Aug 30, 2014, 8:17 PM EDT
HSV is close to landing the 19-year-old on a year-long loan.
Aug 30, 2014, 8:10 PM EDT
NBC Sports was on hand for a memorable day in Liverpool, when Chelsea were pressed to preserve the team’s early lead.
Aug 30, 2014, 7:28 PM EDT
A disappointing performance from the Reds saw the Revolution back into the East’s top five.
Aug 30, 2014, 6:39 PM EDT
Twenty-four goals across the day’s seven games made for a highlight-filled open to the Premier League’s weekend.
Aug 30, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT
Clint Dempsey’s second half goal pushed Seattle five clear at the top of the standings.
Aug 30, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT
Second half goal from Benedikt Höwedes gave Schalke a point at home.
Aug 30, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
The young Swans manager is hoping to get “to the 40-point barrier as fast as possible” after the hot start.
Aug 30, 2014, 3:35 PM EDT
Both managers react to a crazy second half at Goodison Park.
Aug 30, 2014, 2:57 PM EDT
All the action from a sensational Saturday of Premier League action.
Aug 30, 2014, 2:35 PM EDT
Real Madrid could be the deepest attacking side in the world right now, and they just may get deeper.
Aug 30, 2014, 2:25 PM EDT
One of the greatest games in Premier League history played out at Goodison. Relive it, here.
- Premier League Sunday Preview: Tottenham host Liverpool, Arsenal face Leicester 0
- Revolution feeling a Jermaine Jones boost after unloading on Toronto 0
- Reports: Julian Green to be loaned from Bayern Munich to Hamburg 0
- Xabi Alonso debuts as Bayern Munich held at Schalke 0
- Premier League Saturday Roundup: Chelsea win classic; Stoke stun Man City 0
- Everton 3-6 Chelsea: Blues prevail in sensational nine-goal thriller (video) 1