Down by two goals with just 20 minutes remaining, the 17-year old delivered a perfect curling free kick over the wall and into the net. It was the first of two goals that young man would create in the final moments of the most meaningless match possible. Drawing a reserve match against a lower-division club doesn't sound very impressive. But the performance of that one certain player was both impressive, and meaningful.
I learned then what others are just learning now. What scouts from Tottenham and Arsenal are learning this week. What opponents of some lucky premier European team will probably be learning next year. That Andy Najar is special.
It was Apr. 11, 2010, and D.C. United pulled off a 2-2 tie with Real Maryland. It was the start of an incredible year for Najar, and what is turning into an incredible career. On that day, I was one of a few hundred in attendance. Just over two years later, the entire world is watching. The entire world watched Najar set up the goal for Honduras that downed the defending World Cup and European champions. He helped his country beat Spain.
From the Academy to the reserve league. From Rookie of the Year to Olympian. Andy Najar is special.
While we're reminiscing, let's take a look back at the first time that Najar was ever mentioned on this blog.
U-16 Academy player gets a chance to run with and learn from the big boys
Aw, how cute. Like when some little kid tries to join your pickup basketball game then throws a fit when you don't pass him the ball. Its bearable and kind of funny for a few minutes, then you tell him to go home. Except that no one ever told Andy to go home. Because the little kid was better than all the adults.
We actually thought that Najar had less of a chance to make United's 2010 roster than players named Floribert N'Galula and Two-Boys Gumede. He proved us wrong then, and every day since.
Pretty soon, we'll be reminiscing even further about Najar's career in MLS, because it will be in the past. We'll remember his U.S. Open Cup goal against Real Salt Lake, or his coast-to-coast trek against the Philadelphia Union last season. Najar isn't long for MLS. Too special.
Fortunately for all of us, there are more to come. Cristhyan Najar and Denis Najar are both a part of the United organization at the youth level. It's only a matter of time before they follow on the path that's been charted by their brother. They won't get sent home either.