Craig Fowler brings us the lowdown on Hearts’ new USA international midfielder.
He’s a classic defensive midfielder type
Kitchen is the type of player who likes to operate in front of the back four and break up play. He’s known for his tough tackling and tremendous work rate, often logging more yards covered in a match than any of his team-mates. His passing and skills with the ball are sound, if a little uninspiring. He prefers to let others handle the attacking side of the game.
He turned down a good deal to join Hearts
Kitchen has actually been a free agent for some time after rejecting a new deal to stay with DC United. The MLS franchise offered him a contract worth over £5500 a week for two years to remain in the nation’s capital. However, Kitchen has wanted to play in Europe for some time. He was recently linked with sides in Germany and Denmark before this out-of-the-blue deal was struck with Hearts.
He’s a full international with the USA
Having represented his country at various youth levels, Kitchen became a full international after playing for Jurgen Klinsman’s side in a friendly against Panama in February last year. He’s since made two more appearances for the United States. At present, he is behind Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman and Michael Bradley in the pecking order, with a few other talented players in contention for a place. However, Kitchen has youth on his side. At 24, he’s four years younger than Bradley and almost a decade younger than the former two, who are in their 30s, and he was named in last month’s squad for a friendly match against Canada.
He was a high draft pick after stellar college career
In the States, footballers play in college before turning professional. Kitchen starred at the University of Akron where he helped his side win the National Championship in his freshman (first) year. After deciding to leave college after one year, he made himself eligible for the MLS SuperDraft. He was selected third overall by DC United. Fellow US international Darlington Nagbe was selected one place ahead of him. Across his four seasons with DC United he’s made over 150 appearances and was named the team’s MVP in 2013.
He’s a humble, down-to-earth guy
Kitchen married his childhood sweetheart and is not someone who hogs the limelight. He even makes a point of wearing black boots rather than the array of colours available to footballers these days.
In a USA Today sports article, his former coach Caleb Porter was quoted as describing him: “I imagine he doesn’t care too much about Twitter or self-promotion. He’s a kid from Indianapolis. He’s a no-BS type of guy, no ego at all. He just shuts up and does his job.”
He’s got a burning desire to win
In Callum Paterson and Alim Ozturk, Hearts already have a couple of players willing to run through walls for a win. Well it would seem they are about to get another single-minded winner in the side.
Porter said: “I’ve never coached a player that’s more competitive than him, and that’s what sets him apart. He hates to lose, and it doesn’t matter if it’s training, a game, soccer tennis, whatever it is, and when you have that much competitive fiber and you have that much drive and determination, you’re bound to make it.”
Bonus thing you should know - He didn’t play for Tottenham
Contrary to what it says on Wikipedia, and what you may read in other publications, he did not spend a year at Tottenham Hotspur in their youth system. Beware the ease of Wikipedia edits.
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