- - Thursday, May 26, 2016

Julian Buescher didn’t take long to announce his arrival with D.C. United. Leaving a lasting impression, however, has proved trickier.

Making just his second appearance as a professional, the first-round draft pick scored a 30-yard screamer in United’s 2016 home opener, a CONCACAF Champions League clash with Mexican club Queretaro on March 1.

That goal led to cameos off the bench for United’s first two matches of the MLS campaign before his playing time dwindled. In six matches from March 20 to April 23, Buescher never got off the bench.

But the 23-year-old midfielder has worked his way back into United’s rotation in recent weeks, appearing in four straight games. He has developed more of a rhythm with each match, logging a season-high 29 minutes in a 1-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union last week.

“Every minute is helpful for me as a player and a good experience,” Buescher said. “I learn more from being on the [stadium] field than the training field obviously, so it helps and I’m glad that I get those opportunities.”

With raw talent and the versatility to play as a withdrawn forward, central midfielder or winger, Buescher provides a valuable option for a United attack currently hampered by injuries and national team obligations.

The talented rookie out of Syracuse figures to again take part when United (3-5-4) travels to face Sporting Kansas City (5-7-2) on Friday.

“He’s a guy that’s got a good amnesia about the game, and moments aren’t too big for him,” United coach Ben Olsen said. “He’s got to fine-tune some stuff, but he’s a real talent and he’s somebody we’re going to continue to try to find minutes for in the right scenarios to see what his ceiling is.”

Born and raised in Germany, Buescher took an unconventional route to MLS. Embedded in the youth national team setup, Buescher developed alongside the likes of Mario Goetze and Julian Draxler — members of Germany’s World Cup-winning team in 2014.

But he found playing time hard to come by after signing with a third-division club as an 18-year-old in 2011, so he took the advice of American teammate Matt Taylor, a UCLA product, and eventually pursued NCAA opportunities while keeping an eye on MLS.

“I wanted to go to college, and it’s probably underrated over [in Europe] because it’s far away and not typically known for soccer,” Buescher said. “But the league is growing and we see where it is now and where it goes in the future.”

Enrolling at Syracuse in January 2014, Buescher stepped straight into the starting lineup for his first year but truly broke out as a sophomore last fall, recording eight goals and 11 assists while leading the Orange to a College Cup appearance.

Those performances enticed United to trade up two slots to select him 11th overall in January. Although his skill and vision have become readily apparent on the training field, Buescher acknowledges he must improve his decision-making on the ball and continue adjusting to the pace and physicality of the American game.

“In practice, he has days where he’s amazing and days where he tries things and they don’t come off — and we get scored on and guys yell at him,” United captain Bobby Boswell said. “But he doesn’t let that deter him. He takes risks, he’s trying to get better, he’s trying to understand the speed of the game. I think he’s very capable of being a very good player at this level.”

As a product of both Germany’s well-oiled soccer machine and the American collegiate system, Buescher is a unique prospect. Yet, the concept of young players biding their time knows no borders — and Buescher understands that better than most.

“You always have to be patient as a rookie,” Buescher said. “It’s not always easy and you have to learn and it’s new for you. I didn’t expect that I’d start or whatever — that’s not the case. I just try to get as much playing time as possible this season and we see how far I can go.”

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