D.C. United rookie Martin impresses in first pro start

DCUPHILLY (14 of 22)

Photo by Pablo Maurer/Soccer By Ives

By PABLO MAURER

CHESTER, Pa. – About 30 minutes before Saturday evening’s match between D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union, Collin Martin took to the pitch at PPL park to begin his pre-game routine. The club’s latest homegrown signing ambled towards the corner flag, stopping to stretch his leg out on an ad board.

Martin warmed up alongside Dwayne De Rosario, a man nearly twice his age. Collin was two when De Rosario started his professional career. To say the youngster looked out of place would hardly be fair, but his nerves were apparent.

Whatever tension and uneasiness the youngster felt before his first ever MLS start, however, quickly melted away after the opening whistle. Martin was on the field for 76 minutes of United’s 2-0 loss to the Union, looking comfortable and confident in midfield.

“It felt good to get a start,” Martin told SBI after the match. “It was an amazing atmosphere. It was fun to be out there with that group of guys. In the end though it doesn’t really matter because we lost; that was disappointing.”

The lineup D.C. fielded on Saturday evening was the youngest in club history. Martin was joined by Bill Hamid, Conor Shanosky, Perry Kitchen and Conor Doyle – all 21 years of age or younger. Five different homegrown players featured in the match, a testament to the club’s academy system, often considered among the best in Major League Soccer.

Martin made a good impression as a sub in last weekend’s 3-1 victory over Montreal, combining with Conor Doyle and Jared Jeffrey on D.C.’s final goal. In his first start, Martin not only impressed his teammates and fans, but also on his head coach – someone who shares the youngster’s close bond to D.C. United.

“[Collin was] great,” Ben Olsen noted after the match. “I think he is one of the guys on the field that – at least from a confidence standpoint – doesn’t care what type of game he’s in, he’s calm on the ball, he has ideas.

“The problem with Collin going forward is we have to find him a position, but I love his starting point,” Olsen said. “He’s a great soccer player and I was happy that he had a pretty good performance today.”

D.C.’s locker room is rapidly becoming the youngest in MLS, part of an effort to rebuild the franchise as it struggles to keep its head above water. Some veterans remain, however, and Martin was quick to note after Saturday’s match that players like De Rosario and John Thorrington have been eager to impart some wisdom on their young teammate.

“Yeah, it’s pretty simple what they’ve said to me,” said Martin in a hushed post-game locker room. “Do what you’ve been doing the past couple weeks in training and just have fun – in the end that’s why you play the game, to have fun and just basically work hard. If you work hard then good things are going to happen.”

He may well be right. In the midst of a dismal season, the vibe in the D.C. locker room has been a bit more upbeat in recent weeks. One senses that the club’s surprising run in Open Cup play has a lot to do with it, but a mass influx of young players – players like Martin, Jeffrey, Doyle, Micheal Seaton and Luis Silva – has also played a key part in the turnaround. Even while trudging through the worst season in MLS history, perhaps there’s reason for hope in the District. For Martin, his first MLS start is perhaps the beginning of something truly special, something he noted after the match.

“You take each milestone and you build on it. I am excited to get back to work and improve on this start.”

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21 Responses to D.C. United rookie Martin impresses in first pro start

  1. Mueller says:

    Watching the Philly-DC game was fun because they both had a bunch of young players. I wish MLS kept the playoffs at 8 teams. That way more teams would be out of the playoffs sooner and more likely to play the home grown players. Maybe the quality won’t be as good but for me the youngsters are the ones you can dream on.

    • Cavan says:

      Not a bad line of thought but I’ll keep more teams in the playoff hunt for as long as possible.

  2. Carlos Ruiz says:

    I just want to say this nonsense has got to stop. Martin kicked me in the Achilles, Seaton has a bad drug habit (he’s Jamaican) and don’t get me started on Townshend and what he does to puppies with a hedge trimmer! Dios Mia these ninos have got to go so old people like me can make a living!

  3. Turgid Jacobian says:

    I read an interesting article on Grantland about fixing the problem with “nothing to play for” late in the season. In a league with drafts, allocate draft order by points eaned after playoff elimination. That way, even the worst teams have an incentive to gut it out and go for points.

    • Tractor says:

      That would only work if all playoff spots were decided on the same day. A team eliminated on the last day of the regular season would have no opportunity to earn any of these magical lottery picks.

    • Mike says:

      Better idea: Make the draft order not go from last-to-first, but rather, have the best team that misses the playoffs get the top pick, then go in order until last place, then worst playoff qualifier to SS winner.

    • slowleftarm says:

      Better idea: don’t have a draft.

    • Eurosnob says:

      If MLS wants the worst teams to have an incentive to gut it out and go for points, they can consider introducing the promotion/relegation system.

      • Annelid Gustator says:

        Yeah, but that’s a total sea change, whereas a small tweak to existing structures is easy and, in fact, free.

    • Cavan says:

      Who gives a rat’s behind what some fool on Grantland said? Look at DC United. They have everything to play for: their contracts. Same with TFC. Losing teams are going to have trades, waivers, and new signings in the offseason. The players are all fighting hard to stay in the roster/lineup. The veterans are all fighting to show that they’re more valuable than the next academy player. Simple as that.

      The system is fine as is.

      • Annelid Gustator says:

        By the same token, what rodent’s hindquarters should we apply to the theory you present here (i.e., that we have the best of all possible worlds, and that no changes could possibly create incentives to increase player performance or organizational effort)?

        You must be some kind of economic genius to so cavalierly dismiss an entire area of economics! Do you have a Nobel for your org theory work? A Fields Medal for this pioneering contribution to game theory?

        Cavan, incentives work at the margin. The last safe spot on the roster, whether you admit it exists or not, is a point of leverage–trying to think of ways to improve is never a waste.

        • ThaDeuce says:

          You have omitted the all important law of in unintended consequences. I seems to be working fine now. A small tweak could cause bigger unforeseen problems. The league maybe has other areas to work on first.

  4. DCUnitedWillRiseAgain says:

    The one thing that this game brought home was what a horrible horrible trade Pajoy for Cruz was. That and we have a lot of good young talent
    DeRo 7
    Doyle, Kitchen, Martin, Hamid, Shanosky, White 6
    Kemp, Korb, Porter 5
    Jeffrey, Seaton, Riley 4

    • Ramon says:

      I’m not a Pajoy fan, but what does Cruz really provide? He runs forever then has a bad touch in the finishing third. Then he either turns it over or puts himself in a position where he can’t make a play. His constant whining eventually pisses the ref or the other team the wrong way and a squirmish breaks out or there’s a card. The kid’s skills are mediocre and he has little tactical awareness. I got tired of him real quick. I’m glad he’s gone.

      • DCUnitedWillRiseAgain says:

        It was a bad trade for DC, because we have other wingers that can provide that elusive touch (although Porter could be described exactly the same way you have described Cruz, minus the whining) We don’t (or didn’t) have other forwards.

    • Nick says:

      I don’t get the ratings. We lose 2-0 with a poor performance, but you rate 7 of 11 players above average in MLS. Did we watch the same game?

  5. Turgid Jacobian says:

    Am I nuts or are posts moving around the page? I don’t want to be nuts…