WASHINGTON — While most of MLS gets a weekend rest because of the FIFA international fixture dates, four of D.C. United's top men will be logging in some miles on the national team front.
Dwayne De Rosario (Canada), Chris Pontius (US), Bill Hamid (US) and Andy Najar (Honduras) are all in the midst of preparations for international fixtures over Labor Day weekend after receiving call-ups from their respective countries.
“It’s great,” head coach Ben Olsen said of the call-ups. “As tough as it is on us — because we always want our guys around and fit and 100 percent for us — having gone through that process of playing for your country [myself], I’m proud of those guys and I hope they take advantage of their opportunities.”
For those remaining in training, it’s also boost in morale and a chance to watch and support teammates representing their respective nations.
“We’re all excited about that and hopefully they’ll get some time in the games, we’ll be able to watch them,” midfielder Clyde Simms said.
The trio of Pontius, Hamid and Najar are all looking for their first caps in friendlies, while De Rosario begins World Cup qualification with Canada, playing against St. Lucia on Friday and Puerto Rico on Sept. 6.
Teammate Dejan Jakovic was also supposed to join Canada, but a hamstring injury suffered last week in training derailed his plans, making it the second time this year that a knock has forced the defender out of international duty.
“I think he was a little bit disappointed,” said Olsen of Jakovic. “But again, they know who he is, I don’t think they’ll forget about him, and he’s going to be a big part of what they’re doing in the years to come.”
Olsen said he expects to get results this week of scans on Jakovic’s leg and that if all looks well, the player could return in a week’s time.
Reserves draw in Toronto
Joseph Ngwenya’s last-minute goal snatched a 1-1 draw for United’s reserves on Tuesday, as a squad of players made a whirlwind trip north of the border to take on Toronto FC.
“The game overall was pretty good,” Olsen said. “I thought the mentality was right and we were a little unlucky. We had some good chances, just couldn’t connect on a few chances.”
Because of the postponed match over the weekend, DC traveled with a stronger-than-usual roster, starting regulars like Perry Kitchen, Brandon McDonald and Daniel Woolard.
Forward Charlie Davies ended up as a late scratch for United with a minor injury suffered in warm-ups, but with the weekend off, Olsen expects him to be back and ready to go early next week.
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @travismclark.