The Washington Post

D.C. United news and notes

Frankie Simek, a former U.S. national team defender who has spent his entire pro career in England, began a tryout with D.C. United on Tuesday.

Simek, 28, is a right back who rose through Arsenal’s youth academy and played most of his career in the second and third tiers of English soccer. He just completed his third season with Carlisle on the third level, appearing in 38 of 46 league matches and starting 36 times.

He was on the U.S. squad that won the 2009 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup and was called up for a friendly against the Netherlands in early 2010.

Simek is a free agent, but as a former U.S. national team player, MLS would require him to  go through the allocation process. United is near the bottom of the 19-team order after claiming forward Carlos Ruiz in preseason, General Manager Dave Kasper said. If the club wants him after what is expected to be a week-long trial, United could trade up or hope no one else selects him.

Asked about the prospects of going through MLS’s byzantine process to possibly acquire Simek, United Coach Ben Olsen said with a grin: “Why, because he ate dinner with the U.S. men’s national team? I am sure they will put him through the allocation process. I don’t know about that stuff. It seems if you buy a U.S. soccer jersey online you have to go through the allocation order.”

United invited another English third-tier player: journeyman forward Akpo Sodje, 33, who spent the past five months with Scunthorpe and scored six goals in 16 appearances.

“We’re in no position not to take a look at guys,” Olsen said of his 1-8-1 squad.

*Midfielder Chris Pontius seemed certain to return to the game-day roster last week but did not travel to Dallas for the 2-1 loss Saturday because his recovering groin injury “just started getting more sore,” Olsen said. “We’ll wait on him.”

It’s unclear whether he will suit up for Sunday’s match against Sporting Kansas City at RFK Stadium.

*After replacing Bill Hamid with Joe Willis in Dallas, who is United’s top-choice goalkeeper?

“I have always thought we had two very good goalkeepers,” Olsen said. “I thought it would be good for Bill to watch a game. It was a good time to changes things up. It was back-to-back games. From a focus standpoint, it’s good to get some fresh bodies in that quickly after another game. Joe did fine. I have a lot of faith in that kid.”

*Midfielder John Thorrington, out since the second week with a knee injury, has resumed training. No timetable has been set for a return to the game-day roster.

*What did Olsen think of forward Casey Townsend‘s first start of the season after being on loan to third-division Richmond?

“He did okay. His movement was good. I thought we missed him a couple of times when he made some smart runs. He gets the one chance that he would obviously like to do better with, and so would we. [An early effort hit the post.] He is an interesting guy because he is so good in the air, but if you are flicking balls onto nobody, it’s not that effective. Is he a No. 2 forward guy? Can he hold the ball up a little more so we can bring our attack into him? Those are things we are talking to him about.”

*Ruiz was left off the game-day roster against Houston last Wednesday and did not travel to Dallas.

“I spoke with Ben Olsen last week,” he said after training today. “He told me on Tuesday he wasn’t going to dress me for the game against Houston and I was not in the plans for Dallas. I respect the coach’s decision. I wish all the best for the team. He is thinking about the players who are going to play the best in those games. All I can do is keep working and wait for my opportunity. It’s not a good situation for me. I was never in this situation. But it’s the way it is. The only thing I can do is training hard every day and maybe one day he will play me.”

*Kansas City starters Aurelien Collin, a center back, and Orion Rosell, a central midfielder, must serve suspensions for yellow card accumulation and won’t play against United on Sunday.

*United scouting coordinator Kurt Morsink just returned from watching league matches in France and Portugal. Club officials did not specify players they are targeting for possible acquisition this summer.

*The annual Supporters’ Shield Charity Match is set for May 25 at the RFK training grounds, featuring Barra Brava FC against United’s under-23 squad. Donations benefit United for D.C., the club’s charitable arm. Full details here.

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.



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Steven Goff · May 13, 2013