*Corey Ashe‘s first U.S. national team invitation was gone in the time it took to strain his groin in the Houston Dynamo’s MLS match Sunday at Sporting Kansas City. A day later, he withdrew from the U.S. squad, which has gathered in Cleveland ahead of Wednesday’s friendly against Belgium (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2, UniMas).
Ashe, who is from Virginia Beach, had been a late addition to the roster as cover at left back.
Veteran midfielder Maurice Edu (hernia) is also out. And midfielder Brek Shea has sought treatment in Dallas for a lingering calf injury. No timetable has been set for him to join the team.
Five players had already been ruled out of the Belgium game: midfielder Michael Bradley, who played for Roma on Sunday in the Coppa Italia final; defender Fabian Johnson, who went 90 minutes for Hoffenheim in a Bundesliga playoff Monday; Hoffenheim midfielder Daniel Williams; and Tijuana defender Edgar Castillo and midfielder Joe Corona, who are preparing for the second leg of the Copa Libertadores round of 16 Thursday at Atletico Mineiro in Brazil.
They are expected to report to camp in Washington later this week to prepare for Sunday’s friendly against Germany at RFK Stadium (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2, UniMas).
The updated roster for Wednesday’s match:
GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan, Tim Howard, Sean Johnson.
DEFENDERS: DaMarcus Beasley, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, Clarence Goodson, Michael Parkhurst.
MIDFIELDERS: Brad Davis, Brad Evans, Stuart Holden, Jermaine Jones, Sacha Kljestan, Graham Zusi.
FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore, Terrence Boyd, Clint Dempsey, Herculez Gomez, Eddie Johnson.
*Belgium forward Eden Hazard (Chelsea) has returned home because of an injury.
*Ticket sales for the Cleveland match have surpassed
20,000 22,000 and, with a good walk-up, seem headed for 25,000 — a satisfactory turnout for a mid-week game against an opponent that lacks mainstream drawing power. Seven years ago, almost 30,000 were in Cleveland for a U.S. friendly against Venezuela, but that was a Friday night game against a Latin opponent and part of the build-up to the World Cup.
*MLS is nearing an announcement about the All-Star Game opponent July 31 at Kansas City’s Sporting Park. One source tells me Valencia has signed paperwork with the league to participate. An MLS official confirms the Spanish side is among the potential opponents but no deal has been finalized. Three Italian clubs, including Roma, have also been mentioned in media reports here and abroad.
*The 100th annual U.S. Open Cup welcomes MLS to the fold tonight with nine top-tier teams entering the fray. Seven more will play Wednesday.
Only three MLS teams are home tonight (Philadelphia, Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake), setting the stage for an upset-filled evening. D.C. United will visit its third-division affiliates, the Richmond Kickers, at 7 p.m. at City Stadium. Live video is available at www.uslnation.com. The Kickers are 5-0-3 in league play; United is 1-9-2.
“We have seen a number of MLS teams [over the years] go down in the first couple of rounds,” United midfielder Chris Pontius said. “The guys are well aware of the importance of the game.”
Richmond’s goalie is Andrew Dykstra, United’s third-choice keeper who trains with D.C. during the week and is on loan to the Kickers for USL matches. Forward Michael Seaton, 17, also practices during the week with United and competes for Richmond. (Three others in the original loan agreement — Casey Townsend, Taylor Kemp and Conor Shanosky — were recalled by United for the tournament.)
“It’s a new dynamic our league is going to have to deal with,” United Coach Ben Olsen said. “Most guys on loan are there permanently. Here, Dykstra knows us inside and out, but we also know them inside and out, so maybe it evens out in that sense. It adds an interesting little wrinkle.”
Asked if he was concerned United players might think twice about making a hard challenge against Seaton, Olsen said: “I don’t think it will play out that way. He is playing for Richmond and our guys are playing for D.C. He is going to want to prove to me he belongs with us, as is Dykstra. Our guys are going to want to prove, hopefully, they are doing their job and continue to push guys whether they are starters or substitutes.”