My preview of D.C. United’s crucial match against the Columbus Crew at RFK Stadium will appear in Saturday’s print editions (available online later today). For now, a few nuggets to share…..
*Although Chris Pontius has enjoyed a season worthy of an international call-up, he has yet to play for Juergen Klinsmann‘s U.S. national team. However, the Insider has learned from multiple sources that Pontius was invited to join the squad ahead of the two recent World Cup qualifiers.
After Landon Donovan and Brek Shea were scratched because of injury, Klinsmann turned to Pontius for attacking reinforcement and phoned him personally. Pontius reluctantly declined because of a sore knee that prevented him from practicing with United last week. (He returned to training this week and is fit for Saturday’s match.)
The next U.S. game is a Nov. 14 friendly at Russia in Krasnodar. Although European-based players will comprise most of the squad, Klinsmann is likely to consider candidates from MLS clubs that are not participating in the conference finals.
*United center back Dejan Jakovic watched from the bench Tuesday in San Pedro Sula as Canada’s World Cup aspirations were wrecked by Honduras, 8-1. Coach Stephen Hart resigned Thursday.
“It was rough. I felt like I was in a dream,” he said. “You’ve gone this far, you’ve done so well, to end it off like that in such an important game, it’s a tough way to go.”
Some Canadian teammates have talked about retiring from international soccer, Jakovic said, but at age 27, he plans to continue. Canada will compete in the CONCACAF Gold Cup next summer.
*Ticket sales have been brisk this week and United is anticipating a sellout in RFK’s downsized capacity of 19,647. The club is averaging 13,483 (16th out of 19 in the league). The season high is 18,302 for Montreal’s visit in June.
*Starters Andy Najar and Marcelo Saragosa are at the yellow card limit, and with a caution against the Crew, would miss the finale at Chicago next weekend.
*Game-time weather outlook: 61 degrees, 0 percent chance of rain.
*If you park in Lot 8 and use the Southeast/Southwest Freeway, read this!
*With the Washington Capitals on indefinite hiatus, the Crew match will appear on Comcast SportsNet instead of CSN Plus.
*Nine DCU academy players have been summoned for Sunday’s reserve match against the Crew. Kickoff is at 11 a.m. at the RFK training grounds. Admission is free.
*General Manager Dave Kasper, a Maryland grad, and assistant coach Chad Ashton, a former North Carolina Tar Heel, are scheduled to scout tonight’s showdown between the top-ranked Terrapins and No. 2 UNC in College Park. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. ESPNU will provide live coverage.