D.C. United is weighing whether to extend a tryout to one of its early academy standouts, Andy Najar, the 2010 MLS rookie of the year who excelled in Belgium before suffering a series of injuries and returning stateside last season.
United’s new coach (Hernán Losada) and new assistant (Nicolás Frutos) are fans of Najar. Both know him well from their time in Belgium, where Najar played for Anderlecht from 2013 to 2019. Frutos was an Anderlecht assistant in 2016-17, and Losada played and coached against Najar.
Najar, a native of Honduras who will turn 28 next month, appeared in eight matches (one start) totaling 180 minutes last season for Los Angeles FC. In December, his contract option was declined and he became a free agent.
Since 2016, Najar has suffered two ACL injuries and several hamstring and thigh ailments that sidelined him for extended periods.
He was among the first success stories from United’s nascent academy. An immigrant who settled in Alexandria at age 13, he rose through the youth system and, at 17, became the club’s second homegrown signing after goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
In his first two seasons, Najar started 50 league matches, posted 10 goals and seven assists and electrified fans at RFK Stadium with swift and unpredictable runs. After playing regularly in 2012 (and starting three Olympic matches for Honduras), United sold him to Anderlecht for about $3 million.
A starter for three seasons, Najar was on track for a move to one of Europe’s top leagues when a 2016 knee injury sidelined him several months. Hampered by other leg issues, he played sparingly the next two seasons, then returned to regular duty in 2018-19.
Another ACL injury, while playing for the Honduran national team in June 2019, all but ended his European career.
Najar isn’t the only potential D.C. reclamation project. Defender-midfielder Rodney Wallace (Bullis School, University of Maryland) was a 2009 first-round draft pick who later played for the Portland Timbers, Arouca (Portugal), Recife (Brazil), New York City FC and Sporting Kansas City.
Injuries have sidelined him since the spring of 2019. Last year Wallace, 32, trained informally with United in the hope of regaining fitness and earning a contract this preseason.
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