With D.C. United selecting two members of the NCAA Championship winning Akron Zips in the 2011 MLS Draft, I decided to reach out to one of their biggest fans to get a little more information on our two new players. It makes it even better that he's also local and a United fan. His name is Rick, he goes by MDZip on the ZipsNation.org Forum, and we welcome him to our site.
Having followed the Akron Zips for the past 30 years, D.C. United made some smart moves during the MLS SuperDraft. I suspect most United Fans know that there was a little luck involved in having Perry Kitchen available with the third pick of the draft. I saw Ben Olsen state that if he had the first pick, he would have taken Kitchen. I believe it. There are two huge positives with Kitchen that both work very well for United. The first is that despite the fact that he is young, he is a natural leader on the pitch, taking charge for an Akron team all year long despite being the youngest player on the field. He is a very versatile player as well. The Zips generally used him as their sole defending midfielder and he was rarely beaten all the way through the Zips' National title win over Louisville. I don’t know United's plans for him, I’d love to see him paired with Andy Najar, but with some bigger defensive needs they may chose to move him to the backline as well. In a pinch he could even possibly play up front, but with the rocket leg he possesses (witness the 35 yard blast past Michigan in the National semifinals where their goalie barely even moved), midfield would be a good fit for him. The fact that he is young also means even more years of enjoying his play.
Chris Korb was an excellent pick with the 31st pick of the draft. Korb was the senior leader on a defense that was one goal from setting a national fewest goals against average record last year. This year they again excelled in keeping opponents from the goal (only once did the Zips give up as many as three goals in a game in their last two years – a 50 game stretch). They tied a national record with 11 straight shutouts (five were in the 2009 NCAA tournament where they did not give up a goal in the entire tournament – but lost on PK’s to Virginia in the Championship game). Korb was the anchor of that defense. I expect to see him on the outside competing for a starting spot. There were other Akron defenders who were better known, but none who were steadier. Korb reminds me of a football offensive lineman whose name is only called when he makes a mistake. The difference is Korb’s name was never called. He never seemed to be the defender who was beaten on a play. He’s not the biggest or fastest defender I’ve ever seen, but he's very smart, very tough and rarely out of position.
Neither of these guys are goal scoring threats for replacing Jaime Moreno, so help there isn’t going to come from them, but I will be looking forward to watching these young Zips grow and help return D.C. United back to their historical prominence.