The dilemma with Perry Kitchen 

April, 23, 2012
04/23/12
10:54
AM ET

There are plenty of examples in soccer of players for whom coaches just can't seem to find the right spot. Then there are players so talented and flexible that it's difficult for coaches to resist the temptation of using them to plug a hole instead of placing them at their best position.

U.S. and D.C. United midfielder -- and often defender -- Perry Kitchen probably falls into that second category. For some time, it's been widely recognized that the D.C. handyman's best position is probably defensive midfield. But a defensive need for club and country has led to the 20-year-old's being used primarily as a center back in his rookie season in MLS and the failed American Olympic qualifying campaign.

This isn't necessarily a case where the coach doesn't know where his player is most effective. His defense reinforced, Ben Olsen has shown a preference for Kitchen further up the field this season for D.C. And Olympic coach Caleb Porter is the very man who first slotted a young Kitchen into a midfield role in his freshman season at Akron, a move that Kitchen credits for getting him straight to MLS after one year in college.

Brent Latham is a soccer commentator who covers the youth national teams for ESPN.com. Based in Guatemala, he has attended youth World Cups from Peru to Egypt, and places in between.

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