Three D.C. United players were named to the U.S. national team roster yesterday for next week's friendly match in Jamaica, but in a decision that irritated U.S. Coach Bruce Arena, the club turned down a request to allow midfielder Ben Olsen to join them.
Arena said he wasn't told of United's decision until Sunday night, a few days after he made his initial request for players.
"The timing of it was pretty poor," he said. "Whatever. We'll move on. I just think Ben needs more international games because he's been playing in some pretty bad [Major League Soccer] games lately. It would have been a nice opportunity for him."
Meanwhile, United Coach Thomas Rongen isn't happy that the U.S. game was scheduled at all.
"This game doesn't make any sense whatsoever," he said. "It's meaningless and I don't understand it."
United defender Eddie Pope, midfielder Richie Williams and rookie forward Chris Albright were named to the U.S. roster for next Wednesday's game at National Stadium in Kingston. Olsen was not made available, Rongen said, because the 22-year-old star has shin and groin injuries, and is worn out after a busy summer for United and the national team.
"It's the last thing Ben needs," Rongen added. "I'm not comfortable with letting Eddie go [because of the schedule demands]. We'll always contribute to the national team, but we have to start thinking about D.C. United."
With their selections to the national team, the three D.C. players will have a hectic week. Pope and Albright will be in uniform for Saturday's home game against the Dallas Burn -- Williams will sit out after receiving a red card last weekend -- before all three leave for U.S. training camp in Florida the next day.
The U.S. team has a scrimmage next Monday, travels to Jamaica Tuesday and plays against the Reggae Boyz on Wednesday. The next morning the D.C. players will fly to Tampa to begin preparing for an MLS game against the Mutiny the following day. Tampa Bay's Steve Ralston and Chad McCarty will have similar travel plans.
The game in Jamaica gives Arena an opportunity to look at several young players. German-based defender Steve Cherundolo is the only one on the 18-player roster not affiliated with an MLS club, and seven, including Albright and Cherundolo, have never played for the national team.
Olsen established himself with Arena after strong performances at the Confederations Cup in Mexico this summer. With Olsen not going to Jamaica, Ralston likely will take his place in the starting lineup.
In addition to next week's absences, Rongen is concerned about his lineup for this Saturday's game against Dallas. Williams will be out, defensive midfielder Geoff Aunger will be suspended because of an accumulation of yellow cards, Olsen may need time off and playmaker Marco Etcheverry has a strained left quadriceps that almost prevented him from playing in last Saturday's 1-0 victory at Western Conference-leading Colorado.
On a positive note for the club, right back Diego Sonora (groin) and goalkeeper Tom Presthus (knee) may be available Saturday after missing several games. Rongen also is hopeful that central defender Carlos Llamosa (quadriceps) will return in the next two weeks.
United Notes: The rest of the field is set for the CONCACAF Champions Cup in Las Vegas next month after Olimpia (Honduras) and Alajuela and Saprissa (both from Costa Rica) clinched the Central American berths over the weekend. The first-round pairings and brackets for the eight-team tournament that includes D.C. United will be determined Wednesday in New York. The winner will advance to the inaugural world club championship in January in Brazil. . . .
United forward Jaime Moreno (four assists in two games) was named MLS player of the week.