Tuesday, July 16, 2013

DC’s Young Talent Shines in Chivas Friendly

Article By: Anders Aarhus

                                                    Photo Credit: Goal.com
 
On the surface the meaningless, mid-season friendly between a last-place MLS team and a struggling Mexican side didn’t look very interesting. But when the lineups came out Friday evening, it was clear there would be reason to stick around and sample DC United’s collection of young talent.

Recent acquisitions Luis Silva and Jared Jeffrey both started, Casey Townsend got the nod up top and young defenders Taylor Kemp and Ethan White helped man the backline. Excluding 35-year-old John Thorrington, the average age of DC’s starting XI was 24.3.

The youngsters didn’t disappoint either. Kemp and White combined with Daniel Woolard and Chris Korb to shut down Chivas’ talented Carlos Fierro while Silva showed flashes of the skill and innovation that helped him notch five goals and five assists in his rookie season. But the true standout of the night was Jeffrey.

Claimed off waivers just two days before, the U23 international showed his potential as a two-way midfielder, starting attacks from deep and breaking up plays on defense. For all the criticism Branko Boskovic received last year, he filled an important role as a deep pivot in United’s midfield. With the ability to put his foot on the ball, calm things down and then pick the right pass, DC was much more organized and dangerous going forward. Jeffrey ’s skillset would seem to fit that position and Ben Olsen has to be excited about the potential Perry Kitchen – Jeffrey pairing.

Despite the positives, DC’s main issue this season continued to rear its ugly head. The team found the net when homegrown product Michael Seaton crossed for Carlos Ruiz to coolly poke home, but DC still lacks a big-time forward. Seaton isn’t quite ready to lead the line at 17 and Ruiz can’t seem to get on the field. Townsend had a great loan stint in the USL, but was invisible in the first half against Chivas. Lionard Pajoy wasn’t much better after replacing Townsend in the second half, managing to get his named called only for one of his trademark offside runs.

A rebuild was always going to be needed for a team built around 35-year-old Dwayne De Rosario; United’s historically bad start provided an opportunity to get the process underway early. Olsen now needs to take advantage of the summer transfer window and find a young, dynamic forward that the club can rely on for the next several years.

DC isn’t making the playoffs this season, but with a collection of exciting young talent and a US Open Cup semifinal still to come, at least there’s hope for fans going forward.

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