*D.C. United’s Chris Pontius has not practiced the past two days. He has a sore hamstring. However, he has not been rehabbing with the club, either. Instead, Pontius was required to attend MLS All-Star Game festivities in Kansas City on behalf of Volkswagen, United’s chief sponsor and a prominent league backer.
United has kept tabs on him to make sure he is working out on his own. He is expected to return to Washington tonight and rejoin the team for workouts Thursday. (United is off Wednesday.).
Coach Ben Olsen did not want to address the situation. Behind the scenes, the club was irked by the arrangement.
In the big picture, with United’s regular season in shambles, Pontius’s two-day absence probably doesn’t matter, especially with him recovering from injury. But when players are called away mid-season for non-game activities, you can understand the friction between teams and the league.
*Olsen said he did not read Dwayne De Rosario‘s critical comments about unnamed young players after Saturday’s loss to the New England Revolution.
“I should probably check it out before I comment on it. It’s an emotional time after the game. I don’t put too much stock into what coaches and players say after a game. What I saw was a team that competed pretty hard and fouled up a couple of plays. Still the final ball, when it matters to get goals, is not there. We are getting overlaps. We are getting good numbers in there. We are either missing the ball or the run is a little off. It’s going to click.
“One day hopefully soon, that stuff will click.”
*Commenting on the 2-1 loss in general, Olsen said: “I was more encouraged than discouraged. We had some individuals plays we fouled up and at times we didn’t deal well enough with their pressure and playing out [of the back] and getting hold of the game. But overall, there was some good stuff. I saw some growth from the week before [in a 4-1 loss at Chicago].
United will host the Montreal Impact on Saturday night at RFK Stadium and then travel back to Chicago for the U.S. Open Cup semifinal next Wednesday.
“It’s a little bit of a balancing act on players and how I get everyone in rhythm and physically ready to go on Wednesday with the weekend game. That is what we are figuring out now.”
Translation: The Open Cup is more important than the league match and, accordingly, Olsen is devising a plan to ensure his top players are fresh next week.
*Goalkeeper Bill Hamid was given the day off after spending a month with the U.S. national team at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
“I have been through those Gold Cups,” Olsen said. “It’s a long time, it’s a lot of travel, it’s intense.”
Logic suggests Hamid will return to the lineup Saturday in order to regain his rhythm ahead of the Open Cup match next week.
He needs the work after not appearing in any of the U.S. games (one friendly and six Gold Cup matches). “He has been doing a lot of watching, unfortunately,” Olsen said. “We will see how sharp he is and we’ll evaluate him for this weekend and go from there.”
*The U.S. Soccer Federation will conduct a coin flip today to determine which semifinal bracket will host the Open Cup final in October: D.C.-Chicago or Portland-Real Salt Lake.
*Forward Carlos Ruiz (groin) will miss at least a few more days. Forward Casey Townsend (foot) is out. Midfielder Perry Kitchen (hip pointer) returned to training after missing his first league match Saturday. Midfielder Marcelo Saragosa (knee surgery) is working on the side with the fitness staff. Midfielder Lewis Neal, out for four months with a groin injury, has resumed workouts.
*Four graduates of the Dallas Texans youth club were on the field Saturday: United’s Conor Doyle, 21, and Jared Jeffrey, 23, and New England’s Lee Nguyen, 26, and Stephen McCarthy, 25.
“It was special,” Doyle said. “Jared and I turned to each other after the game and I said, ‘Who would have thought growing up we would be on the same field together as pros?’ We took a moment to reflect on it.”
*Goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra and defender Conor Shanosky, on loan to third-division Richmond, logged 90 minutes apiece in a 0-0 draw with visiting Tampa Bay FC on Sunday. Forward Michael Seaton is recovering from a hip injury.
The Kickers (12-0-9) remain the only unbeaten club in the top three tiers and are first in USL Pro, three points ahead of Orlando City with five matches remaining. Richmond will play at Charlotte on Friday and Charleston on Saturday. (To compensate for multiple weekend games, USL teams are permitted five substitutes.)
*If you take Metro to RFK Stadium, read Dr. Gridlock’s construction update concerning the Orange and Blue lines, which service the venue.