Flown The Nest: United First Team Alumni News and Notes

Ned Dishman

It’s been a busy few days for Andy Najar, while Dejan Jakovic’s Japanese side are slipping badly in the J-League in our regular roundup of former Black-and-Red players.

We're back with another look at former D.C. United players, starting off with the first ever MLS Homegrown player to be sold overseas for a transfer fee.

Exciting times for Andy Najar

It's been a busy time for former United midfielder/defender Andy Najar, who was recently granted a contract extension by Belgian Pro League side R.S.C. Anderlecht to keep him at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium through 2018. Just days later, it was then announced that Najar will join up with the Honduras national team for their World Cup campaign as part of their 23-man squad. He is the second-youngest player on the roster, and it is easy to forget that Najar is still just 21 years old. He will most likely return to RFK Stadium on May 29 when the Hondurans face Turkey as part of the Road to Brazil series, showing just how far he has come in such a short space of time.

Meanwhile, Najar has helped Anderlecht keep up the pressure at the top of Belgium's championship playoff. The Purple & White are currently second in the table, just one point behind Standard Liege, after a 1-0 win away to Club Brugge and a vital 2-1 victory at home to Standard, a game that saw Najar involved in plenty of attacking moves.

Dejan Jakovic and Shimizu S-Pulse sliding in J-League

Things had started so well for Shimizu S-Pulse in Japan's J-League, featuring former Black-and-Red defender Dejan Jakovic. However, in recent times they have been on a terrible run and have dropped down to 10th in the table. Their last victory came on April 26, when they snuck past Sendai by a score of 1-0, but since then they have dropped three straight losses, all by a margin of one goal. The poor run started on April 29, when they lost 2-1 to the Kashima Antlers, and has continued with a 1-0 defeat to Tosu and a 2-1 loss to Niigata. Jakovic has started all these games, and will be hoping to inspire his teammates to improvement, starting Saturday when they face Hiroshima.

Joseph Ngwenya seeing plenty of minutes for Pittsburgh Riverhounds

It may not have been the most successful start to the USL PRO season for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, but former D.C. United player Joseph Ngwenya seems to be settling in well enough after moving north from the Richmond Kickers. Ngwenya made 16 appearances for United in 2011 but failed to score, and is now a fixture in the third tier. He most recently appeared against the Charleston Battery on April 26 and played the full 90 minutes, while his first assist of the year came against the Kickers on April 5 as a late substitute in a 3-1 loss.

United alumni in MLS

A few former Black-and-Red players were on the field during the recent weekend of MLS matches, with some enjoying success. Midfielder Dax McCarty logged his first assist of 2014 for the New York Red Bulls as they beat FC Dallas 1-0. Elsewhere, Brandon Barklage started for the San Jose Earthquakes and played 79 minutes in their 3-2 loss away to the Vancouver Whitecaps while Dwayne De Rosario was a late substitute for Toronto FC against the New England Revolution.

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