D.C. United midfielder Ben Olsen was among 22 players invited to U.S. national team training camp in preparation for World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and Guatemala next month.
The U.S. team will gather Sunday in Carson, Calif., and train at Home Depot Center until March 10, before moving to Colorado for high-altitude training to prepare for the March 27 match in Mexico City (elevation 7,300 feet). The Americans will play friendlies against Colombia on March 9 in Fullerton, Calif., and Honduras on March 19 in Albuquerque.
All 22 players named by Coach Bruce Arena play for MLS teams. Europe-based players will arrive around March 20, with the final qualifying roster to be set shortly thereafter.
"We are about to enter an important phase of World Cup qualifying, and it requires that we improve in our preparation for the next set of games," Arena said. "With nearly a month to prepare, a solid schedule of friendlies, and the introduction of high altitude training, we feel that we can put ourselves in a good position to get results from the games against Mexico and Guatemala."
The United States won its qualifying opener -- the first of 10 games against five regional rivals to determine three berths in the 2006 World Cup in Germany -- at Trinidad and Tobago, 2-1, on Feb. 9. Following the Mexico game, the Americans will play Guatemala on March 30 in Birmingham.
Olsen, 27, made the travel roster for the Trinidad game but didn't play.
Other notables named yesterday included 2002 World Cup veterans Frankie Hejduk, Pablo Mastroeni, Clint Mathis and Eddie Pope; emerging star Ed Johnson of Dallas; 2004 MLS rookie of the year Clint Dempsey of New England; and goalkeepers Jon Busch (Columbus), Joe Cannon (Colorado) and Kevin Hartman (Los Angeles). . . .
United released forward Zeferino Soares, a former Real Madrid prospect who had been on an extended tryout, and defender Allen Handy (Florida International University).
-- Steven Goff