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D.C. United 2019 season review: Chris Durkin

SB Nation logo SB Nation 11/8/2019 Ben Bromley
a person holding a football ball in front of a crowd © Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

With the MLS season being as long as it is, sometimes it feels like things that happened earlier this year happened last year, or even years ago. Chris Durkin’s last start, in the 5-1 thrashing D.C. United took at the hands of the Philadelphia Union, feels forever ago. His four straight starts in April, including his only goal of the year against Colorado, feels like a decade ago. So what do we make of his season, and his future with the team?

Chris Durkin started off the season as the third-choice central midfielder for a team that plays two, a solid place to be for an 18-year old Homegrown player in his second year in the league. When Russell Canouse got injured in April, Durkin stepped in and started for a month straight, including his aforementioned goal in his first start of the year. As an aside, if you don’t remember that goal, go ahead and take another look:

It was a nice goal, and it was a hopeful portent of things to come! Except, reality (and D.C. United’s season) didn’t turn out that way. Canouse’s return at the beginning of May spelled the end of Durkin’s month in the starting lineup, and he managed only three more starts through the rest of his season in D.C.

At the end of August, with his playing time having dried up with the addition of Felipe as the third central midfielder, D.C. United sent Durkin on loan to Sint-Truiden of the Belgian League. Since being there, he has made one appearance in a cup competition and none in the Jupiler League, so there really isn’t much to go on with regard to his form or favor with his new team. He will be there for the full Belgian season, so his fate will still be up in the air until June 2020.

My take is that Durkin is a talented player who is still raw, and he needs time in the starting lineup somewhere to continue to develop. His passing can be very good, but he does not currently break up play in the same way that a Russell Canouse can. He is also in the weird liminal space where he has already paid his dues in the USL and is probably too good for that league, but isn’t yet able to break through and secure a starting role on D.C. United. Hopefully he starts getting those minutes in Belgium, because wherever he is, that is going to be the most crucial thing for his development.

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