- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
Perry Kitchen grows into defensive midfield role for United
Perry Kitchen has carved a reputation as a valuable ally to D.C. United's defensive corps. He wins tackles in midfield, snuffing attacks in their infancy. He keeps the ball moving, preventing sustained pressure.
Essentially, he gets them out of jams. It's with the upmost admiration that center back Brandon McDonald refers to the third-year midfielder with the moniker "Slippy Feet."
"You look at his feet, you can give him balls in tough situations and he finds a way to get out of them," McDonald said. "He's real greasy. So for me, I love having him in there."
As United learned down the stretch last season, having a tempo-controlling defensive midfielder tends to be conducive to winning ways. After advancing to the Eastern Conference final in part thanks to Kitchen's uptick in form, United (0-1-0) will hope for more of the same from the 21-year-old in their home opener Saturday versus Real Salt Lake (1-0-0).
Looking back, Kitchen acknowledges the beginning of last year — his first playing the position full time — was "somewhat of a struggle." It wasn't easy for Kitchen to deal with the rigors of playing central midfield day in, day out.
But by the fall, things changed. He picked his spots more carefully when challenging for the ball. Learned from watching tape with coaches. Became smoother in possession. Grew in confidence.
"I don't think I'm at that form yet," said Kitchen, the No. 3 overall pick out of Akron in the 2011 MLS draft. "But that's definitely the goal to get there even quicker than I did last season."
Kitchen's surge coincided with coach Ben Olsen's decision to partner him in central midfield with another defensive-minded player: Brazilian veteran Marcelo Saragosa.
Before the adjustment, Kitchen spent most of his minutes sitting conservatively behind playmakers Dwayne De Rosario and the since-departed Branko Boskovic. With Saragosa providing cover, Kitchen found more freedom to roam.
As Kitchen observed, Saragosa is "a guy that's going to put in a great shift. He shares the workload with me, and it worked out very well last year."
While Kitchen said he has no preference when it comes to United's formation, all signs indicate Olsen intends to deploy dual defensive midfielders for the foreseeable future.
And this year, Kitchen has another veteran player at the position to learn from, with 33-year-old John Thorrington — a journeyman with considerable experience in Europe — competing with Saragosa for a regular starting spot.
"I haven't known him for too long, but we talk like we've known each other for years," Kitchen said. "He's a great guy with great experience, and I'm just going to keep trying to listen to him and absorb as much as I can from him."
After serving as a utility player during his rookie year, logging minutes at center back, right back and defensive midfield, Kitchen has begun to flourish while having a position to truly call his own.
So as he enters Year 2 as a full-time midfielder, what's next?
"We're expecting a lot," goalkeeper Bill Hamid said. "He's a general in the midfield. He's very crafty, very creative. ... Give him time to nurture, give him time to grow, and he for sure one day will be one of the best D-mids in the league."
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- Luis Silva realizes potential in D.C. United playmaking role
- United, D.C. hope this new stadium plan will be the last
- Jared Jeffrey returns to U.S. in search of playing time after European tour
- Sonny Silooy's career has evolved from standout defender to standout talent developer
- Alain Rochat adjusts to D.C. United move with growing family on his mind
Latest Blog Entries
- Jason Levien, Ben Olsen discuss D.C. United's $300M stadium plan
- Conor Doyle loan continues D.C. United youth movement
- Ben Olsen discusses trading Brandon McDonald to Real Salt Lake
- Interview outtakes: Sonny Silooy
- Hello Luis Silva, Collin Martin, goodbye Alain Rochat: Breaking down D.C. United's busy day
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- Vietnam says it may have found door of missing Malaysian jet as intel look into stolen passports
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- High schooler suing parents for money shot down by judge
- Italy outraged over U.S. gun dealer's 'David' ad
- Why Malaysia Airlines jet might have disappeared?
- CPAC 2014 straw poll results
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again