After starting 21 games as a rookie in 2011, the University of Maryland product didn't see a second of playing time all season. That could change as soon as Saturday, when United host the Columbus Crew at RFK Stadium.
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.
This past February, D.C. United coach Ben Olsen spoke of his club's arduous quest to bring in a true goal-scorer, then looked to prized signing Hamdi Salihi and declared, "We think we've found him."
The MLS playoffs have been full of twists and turns for D.C. United. After a poor second-half performance against the Houston Dynamo on Sunday, the club will have to find yet another memorable moment if it wants to play for this year's championship.
When D.C. United on Wednesday agreed to sacrifice home-field advantage by swapping home playoff dates with the New York Red Bulls, many factors came into play.
For D.C. United, the math is simple: A win or draw in either of the team's final two games clinches a trip to the playoffs, vanquishing a drought that has plagued the club since 2007.
In his fourth year, Dejan Jakovic has been around the block in a D.C. United uniform. More so, in fact, than all but one of his teammates. While the club has overhauled its roster, the 27-year-old lingers as a rare remnant from another era.
D.C. United's road to ending their four-year playoff drought has been burdened with the most disruptive roadblock imaginable.
Will Johnson scored in the 49th minute to help Real Salt Lake beat D.C. United 1-0 Saturday night for its first Major League Soccer victory in more than a month.