D.C. United has youth crop to build for next season

Despite having its worst season in Major League Soccer, D.C. United has a young crop of talent as it seeks to rebuild. Photo: Jared Jeffrey (MLS Soccer)

WASHINGTON, November 7, 2013 — Despite having its worst season in Major League Soccer, D.C. United has a young crop of talent as it seeks to rebuild for next year.

“It was a rough season and now we have to put it behind us,” said Perry Kitchen at RFK Stadium this week before the players departed for a needed break. “We are just worried about performing better next year. We hope to get some big pieces [additions to the team].”

SEE RELATED: D.C. United readying for postseason tour of Indonesia

In his third year with the team, Kitchen was voted the club’s MVP of the year. The defensive midfielder led the team in games played (31) and while he is still only 21, he is turning out to be a real leader on the field.

Do not tell United midfielder Jared Jeffrey that the season is over.

“The season feels like it just started for me,” said the 23-year-old who joined the club in July after three years playing with Mainz reserves in Germany.

“It’s been a great experience coming here,” Jeffery said. “I learnt a lot about the team and the philosophy of the league.”

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The Dallas, Texas native, started ten games for the club and scored two goals, one an absolute stunner.

“I was just happy to get a chance to compete,” Jeffrey said. “Obviously we are not happy with the results we got. With a full pre-season I’m looking forward to next year.”

Coach Ben Olsen has asked Jeffrey to play a two-way midfielder role, connecting the backline with the forwards.

“We have a lot of good players on this team and everyone will come in next season competing for positions and I’m looking forward to it,” Jeffrey said.

SEE RELATED: The rebuilding begins for D.C. United after worst season

Conor Doyle is one player who would like to stay on at United. His loan deal from English club Derby County ends at the end of the year. Doyle had a tough time breaking into the starting lineup in England and faced some fan backlash. The striker, who played 22 times for Derby in the competative Championship, says he likes the fans in Washington and enjoyed himself this season.

That said, is D.C. willing to spend $300,000 on buying him from Derby? If Doyle had finished some of the changes he had, maybe it would not be an issue. Doyle started eight games for United and played in 14. He notched two goals on the season.

“I got a lot out of this loan period,” said Doyle. “I was a happy with how I played. I wish I had scored more goals. It was nice to get into games and see what I was good at.”

On another note, veteran midfielder John Thorrington, 34, sounds like he’ll be back with the team next year. He says his end-of-season talk with the front office was very positive.

Thorrington was proud that he could help the club win the U.S. Open Cup.

“The championship felt even better given how crappy season was,” he said.

In order for the team to do better, Thorrington believes the club needs a goal scorer and more depth on the bench because the “team lacked depth when we had injuries.”

Up next, United is heading for a tour of Indonesia from December 3 to December 9.

Notes - Two of United’s key starters, striker Chris Pontius and defender Chris Korb, have undergone post-season surgery. Pontius, United’s longest tenured player, underwent surgery this week  to repair his left hamstring and sciatic nerve and will be out for up to six-to-eight weeks, while Korb had surgery last week to repair his left big toe and will be out for four-to-six weeks.

John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times for 20 years. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.

Follow John on Twitter at @Johnahaydon or email jhaydon@washingtontimes.com

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John Haydon

John Haydon has covered soccer for The Washington Times for two decades. He has reported on international soccer events in Germany, South Korea and Spain. John hails from Birmingham, England and has lived in the Washington D.C. region for over twenty years.  

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