- Jason Davis
Last night, Andy Najar, D.C. United's teenage Honduran-American phenom, put the question of which nation he should represent as an international to the people of Twitter. Considering the timing and the nonstop speculation over Najar's decision, the query caused what qualifies, in the soccer world at least, as a mild frenzy.
The tweet prompted a flurry of responses. Most of them requested, demanded, or politely suggested that Najar play for one country or the other. Sitting on this side of the language and national divide, I witnessed a slew of people I follow make impassioned pleas. Some referenced the World Cup, suggesting that Najar is much more likely to play in one if he decided to suit up for the United States. Others employed a gaggle of exclamation points in the traditional mark of the fanatic, or offered to name their first born son after him. A few gave unbiased advice, telling Najar to listen to his heart.
Najar didn't seem to take much of it seriously, which makes sense. It's Twitter. He's 17. He certainly wasn't counting votes. Not legitimately anyway - Najar's follow up tweets, as he was barraged with response after response to his question, made fun of the controversy surrounding his choice of national team.
It was a flippant treatment of a question many of us - both Honduran and American - take entirely too seriously. It's probably not a good idea to read much into Najar's bit of Twitter fun, but his attitude might reveal something about where he stands on the question he humorously put to the masses: he's not close to answering it himself. Maybe even more interesting, he probably isn't, at this point in his career with one year as a professional behind him and the ink still wet on his new contract, taking the whole thing as seriously as we think he is. Or maybe that should be "as we want him to."
While message boards smoke with speculation about Najar's choice, journalists attempt to analyze the effects the overzealous Honduran press might have on a shy teenager, and soccer fans struggle to grasp the intricacies of the US naturalization process, Andy is having fun.
I hope that's the case, anyway. I hope everything Andy has done to this point in regards to his international future is a delaying tactic. When Honduran outlets twist his words to make it appear he has made his choice and Najar's agent clears things up by saying that the teenager is "closer" to a decision but has yet to make one, I hope that's a mollifying technique. Maybe Najar knows who he'll play for, or maybe he's still processing it all. He's 17, and short of choosing Honduras because there might be a place in the squad for him and maybe that will be best for his career as someone else sees it, there's little reason to declare now.
There's certainly some pressure on Najar, though it's impossible to know how much he feels it. It's not ridiculous to imagine, with last night's Twitter episode as evidence, that the teenage superstar just finds the whole thing funny.