Much-improved DC United back line set to lose Jakovic
WASHINGTON — Just as D.C. United’s back line is finding consistency, Gold Cup duty will claim Canadian international Dejan Jakovic for most of June.
Though he’ll leave the club after Sunday’s meeting with the Portland Timbers to join up with Canada, he said remains focused on taking care of business this weekend.
“I’m not thinking about [the Gold Cup] right now," Jakovic said. "We obviously have an important game against Portland. The standings are so close, one win puts us in a very good position.”
After a rough stretch in April, DC’s defense has improved considerably, conceding only two goals in the last three league outings. Jakovic has been a key player in the middle, starting all but one game this year.
With the biennial international tournament just around the corner, the 25-year-old defender did allow himself to look beyond Sunday’s game. It will mark his second time taking part in the competition as he was a member of Canada’s 2009 Gold Cup squad that lost in the quarterfinals. He joins five other MLS players on the team.
Making it a little more interesting for Canada this year is their inclusion with the United States in Group C. The open the group stages against the US on June 7.
“I’m excited,” Jakovic said. “I’ve never had a chance to play against the US and, knowing some of the guys that play in MLS and having a chance to play against the US where I play, definitely looking forward to it. It’s in Detroit, so hopefully we can get some fans over the border.”
Expectations are fairly high for Canada. Though they haven’t qualified for the World Cup since 1986, they did win the Gold Cup back in 2000 — the only nation to triumph other than the United States or Mexico.
Advancing past the group stage is the priority, at least from the beginning.
“It would be very disappointing if we don’t go through,” he said. “We were a little unlucky last run, we lost to Honduras on a late goal. I thought we had a great team, and it’s most of the same guys coming in.”