Steve Goff's latest for the Washington Post says that D.C. United is making "a serious push" to sign Academy player Chris Durkin to the first team roster. The 16-year old Durkin plays primarily as a center back or defensive midfielder, and captained the United States at the 2016 AIFF Youth Cup in India. This news comes after the Black-and-Red allow Durkin time to train in Italy with Inter Milan. Durkin was also invited to US Soccer's January under-17 camp and appeared with the first team as an unidentified player during selected preseason games. Goff's article goes on to say Durkin could also consider European opportunities.
In all likelihood, Durkin's rise over the past few months within the youth national team set-up coupled with those alleged European opportunities is what has pushed United to accelerate a move to sign the youngster to a first-team contract. It's also an interesting moment as far as the depth chart is concerned. There is rumored interest in starting center back Steve Birnbaum from from clubs scattered throughout UEFA, while Bobby Boswell turned 33 earlier this year. In the preseason, Durkin spent time at right back during the preseason, and an injury to Chris Korb has left United exposed in terms of depth at that position. Sean Franklin, at 31 years old, has played every second of the season thus far.
Further up the field, United could also end up looking at Durkin as a long-term replacement in defensive midfield. Marcelo Sarvas, at 34, has only missed time due to suspension, and the recent dissolution of Markus Halsti's contract has opened up a spot on the depth chart - behind spot starter Jared Jeffrey - that Durkin could fill for the time being.
None of which is to say that Durkin is a direct replacement for Birnbaum or Halsti in 2016. If the Glen Allen native were to sign tomorrow, he would almost certainly spend the rest of the year making appearances for the Richmond Kickers. Durkin initially came up through Richmond's academy, and that outcome would allow him to spend his first months as a pro closer to home. However, come 2018 and further down the road, United's current starters may well be playing abroad, on their way out as every-day starters, or even retired. The time to start grooming a replacement for those circumstances is probably in the very near future.