We're spending the first month or so of the D.C. United offseason grading each player on the roster with an approval rating. A vote for APPROVE means you were satisfied with the player's performance and want to see him back in D.C. next season. A vote for DISAPPROVE means you want United to move on without him. There is no middle ground, so please leave salary and contract implications out of your decision.
He's just 5'-7" tall, weighs just 150 lbs, and he's only 18 years old. Does that sound like your average soccer player? Or does it sound more like your average college freshman who would rather play video games than go to the gym. Well in this case its neither. Its Andy Najar. He's not just an average soccer player. He's one of the best in MLS.
Najar had five goals in 2011, matching his total from the previous season, in which we won the Rookie Of The Year award. That's not what impressed us the most though. It was the six assists. Najar's crossing ability improved significantly this season, and he had the opportunity to use it.
Last year, Najar was surrounded by guys like Danny Allsopp and Pablo Hernandez - guys who either couldn't score, or had to be in the perfect position to be able to score. This year, Najar was surrounded by Dwayne De Rosario, Charlie Davies, and a healthy Chris Pontius - far more talented attackers. No longer did Najar feel the need to do everything himself. That's a good thing, because defenders were on to him now too. Najar wasn't surprising anybody with his ball skills like he did last year. He was getting stood up by defenders more often. But he adapted.
The young Honduran works hard all over the field, but didn't necessarily have his best year defensively. He'll have to work on improving his focus in that area next year, but Najar was an integral part of United's offense in 2011, and he is expected to continue to be for the next X years until his career progresses to the point where he moves on to Europe. How many years will that be? We can only hope that its more than one.