D.C. United Coach Thomas Rongen called his team's 2-1 loss to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night "terribly disappointing." Rongen was critical of United's defensive performance and openly wondered why his team didn't capitalize on its numerous scoring chances. D.C. has picked up only four points in its last five games.
But Rongen has few options in the next two weeks. United does not play again until July 25 at New England, and most of its key players will not play in that match. Seven will join the U.S. national team today to train for the FIFA Confederations Cup, which begins July 24 in Mexico, and Marco Etcheverry and Jaime Moreno are in Bolivia preparing with their national team for the same event.
So if Rongen has concerns about the play of Eastern Conference-leading United (12-7, 30 points), he will have to wait to address them. This is nothing new for United.
"It was like that last year a lot," defender Eddie Pope said. "I don't know how long it was until we got everybody on the field."
Pope hasn't been on the field for the past two games because of a sprained left anterior cruciate ligament. But he expects to be healthy for the Confederations Cup, as well as the July 17 MLS All-Star Game in San Diego. Ten United players were selected to play in that match.
So although United's schedule is light, United's players are busy. "The focus is on everything," Pope said. "If you play on the national team, you have a responsibility to that team. If you play for D.C., you have a separate responsibility."
Actually, the focus is on everything but the All-Star Game. Don't expect United's all-stars to work out any kinks in San Diego.
"The All-Star Game is relaxing," forward Roy Lassiter said. "It's a celebrity game. It's for the fans."
Joining Lassiter and Pope on the U.S. team are goalkeeper Tom Presthus, defenders Jeff Agoos and Carlos Llamosa and midfielders Richie Williams and Ben Olsen. Former United coach Bruce Arena coaches the national team.
After its July 25 game United is off until Aug. 8, when it hosts Tampa Bay. Rongen should have his team intact soon after that.
CAPTION: Jason Moore tried to stop Rapids' Jason Bent on Saturday. United won't field full roster until after Aug. 8 game against Mutiny.