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The Andy Award, for D.C. United's Rookie of the Year

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Instead of having you vote on an obvious award, we take a look at D.C. United's current slate of Homegrown players.

Suz Kitsteiner

The Andy Award, formerly known as the Convey Award, is given out yearly to the best rookie from that D.C. United season. After his remarkable performance during the 2010 season, the name of the award was changed due to Andy Najar putting himself into the pantheon of rookie performances and eclipsing Bobby Convey in both performance and closeness to our hearts. Past winners of this award include the aforementioned Andy Najar, Nick DeLeon, Chris Pontius, Perry Kitchen, and Ryan Cordeiro (?).

However, this season has a runaway winner who is also really the only candidate. Steve Birnbaum, the team's first round draft pick, was the only draft pick to stay with the team during the season. Jalen Robinson, the only homegrown player signed this season, spent the entire year in USL PRO. So, the rules committee has decided to give the Andy Award to Steve Birnbaum by unanimous consent, and instead talk about the state of D.C. United's Homegrown players.

United, of course, started off their Homegrown program with the immediate successes of Andy Najar and Bill Hamid, still two of the best Homegrown players ever produced by any MLS Academy. Ethan White can be considered a success as well, having become a starter/key backup in MLS and he was protected by the Union in this week's expansion draft.

On the other hand there is Conor Shanosky, just released by D.C. United and eligible for the Re-Entry Draft today and next week. The third Homegrown player signed, he spent plenty of time on loan (in Ft. Lauderdale and in Richmond), but wasn't able to develop quickly enough to make it as an MLS player. I think he will make a fine NASL starter if he wants it, but regardless I will keep an eye on him.

And finally, there are the three Homegrown players whose fates are still in the balance: Michael Seaton, Collin Martin, and Jalen Robinson. After getting some significant time in Richmond last season, Seaton only got eight games this year due to injuries among the forward corps, and that is a shame. He is a player who needs time on the field, but at this point I don't know if another season in Richmond is appropriate. As many have suggested, if he could take over the late game forward sub role from Conor Doyle, that would be an ideal next step. Olsen is willing to make changes in his starters and substitutes based on what he sees in practice, but he will have to see Seaton outperforming Doyle in order to do it. I still have a lot of hope for Seaton, and I would love to see him start to show it next season.

Collin Martin got even less time in Richmond, five games, and seems to play a position that may not exist in Ben Olsen's 4-4-2. However, Olsen did mention him as a key young player for 2015, so he definitely has him in his plans; perhaps he thinks that Martin can understudy either Davy Arnaud or be a different option next to Perry Kitchen similar to the way Mix Diskerud has been playing for the National Team.

Finally, there is Jalen Robinson, the only one of these three to participate in USL PRO the way it was ideally meant: get sent down and play pretty much a full season. The Kickers allowed D.C. United to loan Robinson to Arizona United SC since he wasn't seeing the field due; once he got there, Robinson played fourteen games, some early at center back but later at right back. With United's full corps of fullbacks coming back next season, a loan would probably be good for Robinson again.

Overall, I am still confident about the three newest Homegrown players, but United will still have to show that they can continue to develop them, especially when they are not ready to start on day one like Najar, Hamid, and White. What do you think about the current state of United's homegrown players?