D.C. United's Andy Najar on loan to RSC Anderlecht in Belgium

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Sports,D.C. United,Craig Stouffer,Belgium

Midfielder set to return to United in February

D.C. United midfielder Andy Najar will spend the month of January on loan with RSC Anderlecht after impressing the Belgian league champions during a two-week training stint last month. Najar joined Anderlecht's winter training camp in Turkey this week and will miss the start of D.C. United's preseason but is expected to rejoin the team in February.

"This is another very good opportunity for Andy to gain valuable experience with a top European club," D.C. United general manager Dave Kasper said in a statement.

Najar, 19, trained last winter with English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur. The latest overseas move is expected to be a temporary one for the Honduran product, who was enrolled at Edison High School in Alexandria when he signed with D.C. United in 2010. But it eventually could lead to a permanent transfer.

Najar had four assists in 25 games for D.C. United in 2012, his third season in MLS and a year that also was very busy for him on the international stage. Last spring Najar helped the Honduran under-23 national team qualify for the Olympics and then represented his country in London over the summer.

Back in MLS, he also made a shift from wide midfield to outside defender, a position at which United would prefer to have him when the 2013 season begins. He was suspended for United's final three playoff games after throwing a ball at a referee.

While United may prefer to wait before selling, Najar has long had his eye on a move overseas. If Anderlecht wishes to pursue a permanent move, it will have to negotiate with United and MLS, which owns all player contracts and is notoriously tough at the bargaining table.

Meanwhile, U.S. forward and former Washington Freedom star Abby Wambach was named FIFA's world player of the year, the first American voted Ballon d'Or award winner since Mia Hamm 11 years ago.

Wambach, 32, finished 2012 with 27 goals in 32 appearances, helping the United States win its third consecutive Olympic gold medal. She received 21 percent of the votes, topping U.S. teammate Alex Morgan (28 goals) and Brazilian playmaker and five-time winner Marta.

On the men's side, Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi won the award for a fourth straight time.

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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Craig Stouffer

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner