Najar delivers winning goal on a special night in Baltimore

Andy Najar, Roy Miller

Photo by ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

BALTIMORE — Andy Najar was playing in front of several members of his family and not far from the fields in Virginia where he spent many of his childhood years, so naturally, he scored the game-winning goal that pushed Honduras through to the Gold Cup semifinals.

Najar opened his international scoring account for Honduras on Sunday night, perfectly placing a header into the back of the net in the 48th minute of the Catrachos’ 1-0 victory over Costa Rica at M&T Bank Stadium. The clutch goal was a reminder and spoke volumes to how Najar has matured and improved as both a player and person since moving from D.C. United to Belgian club RSC Anderlecht this past January.

“Today, playing in Belgium with a youth side, without his family and being alone, it’s helped him a lot,” said Honduras head coach Luis Fernando Suarez. “That’s been obvious, not only in soccer, but in all other situations that present themselves while he is with the group. He is an introverted person but now he talks a lot more with the group and that he’s on a path.

“His future, at this moment, it seems he has no limit. This is good for us, this is good for the future of Honduras, as it’s what we’re looking to do,” Suarez said. “Sometimes it’s complicated to make people understand that qualification is not only important, but also the nurturing of our future for the days when we are not here.”

Najar is firmly entrenched in those plans for the future of Honduras and not just because he scored the winner against Costa Rica in a game played in front of a pro-Honduras crowd of 70,540. The 20-year old provides speed, technical ability and a youthful exuberance. Traits that have made him one of the more exciting young players to keep an eye on in CONCACAF.

All those traits were on display on Sunday, but his well-placed header three minutes after the intermission will be the biggest talking point, and with good reason. Najar made a perfectly-timed run to meet a great cross from fellow youngster Alexander Lopez and then beat a motionless Costa Rica goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton with a header that may be as good as we see in the Gold Cup.

“Thankfully I had the opportunity to score here at home,” said Najar. “It’s wonderful to come back and score a goal. It had been a while since I had had a chance to score a goal. Now, I need to continue to do things like this.”

Najar’s goal would have been special enough for him under normal circumstance, but it was made even more special his celebration. After nodding the ball home, Najar picked¬†the ball out of the back of the net and placed it underneath his jersey to honor the upcoming birth of his next child.

“I dedicated the goal to my wife because a second baby is on its way, a boy,” said Najar. “It’s a beautiful moment and thankfully the coach counted on me today. Little by little, he’s brought me along and given me opportunities and today I was right there (to help the team).”

Up next for Najar? A date with the U.S. Men’s National Team in the Gold Cup semifinals in Dallas on Wednesday, a match that will not be played anywhere near where he grew up, but one that will still hold a little more significance than most for the blossoming Najar.

“It’s wonderful to play against the national team of the country where you developed as a soccer player,” said Najar. “Honestly, it’s a wonderful opportunity and that makes it very special for me.”

This entry was posted in CONCACAF, CONCACAF Gold Cup, Featured. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Najar delivers winning goal on a special night in Baltimore

  1. ChrisTheLSUTiger says:

    “After nodding the ball home, Najar picked the ball out of the back of the net and placed it underneath his jersey to honor the upcoming birth of his NEXT child.”
    20 years old and two kids? Sheesh. Those footballers start early, don’t they? Hope his career pans out.

    • Jersey2Colorado says:

      20 with multiple kids.. choices, my man, choices.

      • Edwin in LA says:

        He is okay funancually with a bright future so I don’t think he has anything to worry for having 2 kids.Now if he was splurging in luxury cars and stuff I could understand. But he has done well for himself give the guy the benefit of the doubt.He’s playing in Europe and already has what experience in the Olympics?He’ll be close to 21 when his second baby is born, not that bad at all.Ask all the young grandparents out there

        • DCLee says:

          Agreed Edwin! He is a very mature and bright young man. Those kids are lucky to have him for a father and they will all have a good time when he will still only be in his early thirties when they are teenagers.

          • DCUnitedWillRiseAgain says:

            Mature….

            This is the same Andy Najar who was red-carded for throwing a ball at the referee last year, right?

  2. MiamiAl says:

    I hope he grows up, because he cost DC United their season last year with his nonsense red card when he threw the ball at the ref.

    • Jacknut says:

      It was a stupid play, but there was little chance we were getting past Houston, especially once the ref missed the obvious red card and PK that Raphael Augusto earned

  3. Old School says:

    Why was my post flat out deleted?

    I made a comment about MLS developing talent in this region and we’re seeing the fruition of it in this Gold Cup/in World Cup Qualifying and it was deleted?

    With the ridiculous moderation filter and the unknown reason my post was deleted, becoming a lot more wary of utilizing any time on this website with each day.

  4. slowleftarm says:

    Glad he appreciates what the US did for him so much that he went and represented some foreign country that his family left. Thanks Najar – now go back to Belgium so you can sit on the bench and continue being forgotten.

    • Jacknut says:

      Once again, you show the left arm isn’t the only thing about you that’s slow. Najar never really had a shot at representing the USA unless he decided stay in MLS for years while he went through the naturalization process. He’s never had US citizenship and wasn’t on the path to become a citizen.

      Najar came here at about 12 or 13, within the same time frame Rossi left for Italy.

      #SHIELDSUP!

    • MiamiAl says:

      If I recall, he can’t even speak English.

    • Nate Dollars says:

      red bulls fan

  5. Paul says:

    I had no problem with him playing for Honduras because that’s where he is from. So what if the US nurtured him as a player. That’s one of the problems with having a growing league. You don’t see England being upset that they lost out on CR7 considering the EPL took him to the level of greatness. I hope he continues to grow as a player becasue it’s good for MLS but i hope he loses on wednesday

    • slowleftarm says:

      Apples and oranges. CR moved to England to play for Man U and he was already 17 or 18. Of course he played for Portugal.

      Najar moved here when he was 12 and learned the game here. You would think he’d want to represent the country that gave me these great opportunities. Nah, I guess he’d rather represent the country his family fled. No wonder he’s procreating as fast as he is – he’s got a lot of time on his hands given that he’s played in zero games for Anderlecht since his big move.

      • slowleftarm says:

        Obviously meant “gave him” these opportunities. How about an edit button? Thanks.

      • DWE4 says:

        I hope you’re just as “anti-USA” enthusiastic about Jermaine Jones’, Timmy Chandler’s, and Danny Williams’ inclusions in all prior and future USMNT camps. Otherwise, you’re a flaming hypocrite. And kind of a Troll.

        Najar represented Honduras’ youth national teams. He was never on any track to gain US citizenship. He’s 100% a Honduran. His parents happened to live in the DC area, and DC United happened to identify him and invite him to their academy. I think the system worked in this case.

      • MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

        Messi moved to Spain as a kid. Messi plays for Argentina. This happens all the time. This is a positive sign that academies are grooming the best available talent.