Andy Najar fits nicely in LAFC puzzle

Andy Najar could be the final piece in the LAFC puzzle.

The 2010 MLS Rookie Of The Year with D.C. United is returning to the league to play for LAFC after seven years at Belgian club Anderlecht.

Injuries have been an issue for the 27-year-old Najar, but he could step in at right back, where Steven Beitashour started for most of LAFC's first two seasons but was not re-signed when his contract expired at the end of the 2019 season.

"On the right side of the field as a right back, he really fits in the way we play," said LAFC coach Bob Bradley. "He has the ability to come forward, he's athletic, his reactions when we lose the ball. He will fit in the way we try to counter-press. He's got a fantastic personality. He gets along with his teammates."

LAFC used its No. 1 spot in the MLS Allocation Ranking to sign Najar, who becomes a free agent on July 1.

Najar was born in Honduras and resided in Virginia when he began his pro career in 2010 after becoming D.C. United’s second-ever Homegrown signing. In 82 regular-season matches over three MLS seasons, Najar had 10 goals and 11 assists.

After the 2012 season, he was transferred to Anderlecht, becoming MLS’s first-ever Homegrown player to permanently join a European team. Because he was sold to a foreign club for a transfer fee -- estimated at the time to be about $3 million -- he was in the pool of players required to go through MLS's Allocation Process if they wanted to return to MLS.

At Anderlecht, Najar had 14 goals and 16 assists in 164 matches. While in Belgium, he won two league titles, but an ACL tear suffered in 2016 slowed him down, limiting him to just 39 appearances over the last four seasons. He did not play a league game in 2019-20 after suffering another knee injury and started training with LAFC in the winter.

Beitashour lost his job to Tristan Blackmon at the end of the 2019 MLS season. Blackmon started the first two games of the 2020 MLS season at right back. But with Walker Zimmerman's trade to Nashville SC in late preseason, Blackmon could eventually end up at center back alongside Eddie Segura.
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