(TWP)

***The U.S. World Cup qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago on June 8 in the Denver area will become official today. The venue is Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo., home to the MLS’s Rapids. The Insider first identified DSG Park as the choice a few months ago. Greater Denver provides the altitude (5,300 feet) for preparations ahead of the visit to Azteca Stadium (7,300 feet) for the June 11 qualifier against Mexico. Before either qualifier, the United States will play a friendly at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah (4,200 feet) on a date and against an opponent to be announced soon.

***Forward Sophia Smith, a 16-year-old high school junior from Colorado, has joined the U.S. women’s national team ahead of friendlies against Russia on Thursday in Frisco, Tex., and Sunday in Houston. She’s the second late call-up to the senior squad from the U-23s, joining 17-year-old midfielder Jaelin Howell. Smith and Howell attend the same high school and play for the same club, Real Colorado. Mallory Pugh, 18, also starred at Real Colorado.

Smith and Howell will help fill a roster that has lost midfielders Morgan Brian (knee), Lindsey Horan (hip) and Tobin Heath (back) to minor injuries.  Ellis has 23 players in camp; 18 will be in uniform for each match. FS1 will carry Thursday’s friendly, starting at 8:30 p.m. ET from Toyota Stadium. ESPN will show Sunday’s game from BBVA Compass Stadium at 2 p.m.

***Ten new players have joined the U.S. under-20 men’s team for a week-long training camp in London, starting today. Tab Ramos’s 25-man squad also includes Georgetown goalkeeper J.T. Marcinkowski and Maryland attacker Eryk Williamson. The CONCACAF champions are preparing for the U-20 World Cup in May-June in South Korea.

***The USL, which received second-division status this season, continues to take a hard look at Baltimore as an expansion location.

“We received a strong application from a local ownership group with a solid business plan for that market,” USL spokesman Leonardo Santiago said. “We’re reviewing stadium options as a part of that application and are planning a market visit in the next month. … The USL remains very interested in Baltimore and is looking forward to further progress.”

Paul A. Tiburzi, a senior partner in the DLA Piper law firm, is coordinating the effort by working with local political and business leaders. According to his online biography, Tiburzi has “has counseled clients, including professional sports teams, on political and financing issues related to the development and use of stadiums and sports venues.”

Tiburzi worked with D.C. United as Maryland counsel when the MLS club weighed stadium options in Baltimore years ago. He also chaired the Camden Yards Sports Commission when it brought the first major international friendly to M&T Bank Stadium: Chelsea vs. AC Milan, which sold out in 2009.

“Baltimore would be perfect for the USL,” he said, “and would enjoy the same kind of success the league has seen in Cincinnati and other similar cities.”

***Construction at D.C. United’s Buzzard Point stadium job site is moving along. The next big step, team officials said, is foundation work, which will include about 270 auger cast piles set 70 feet into the ground.

***This is what a close race looks like:

(Soccerway)

***The producers of “The Real World” and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” are developing a limited scripted series about Pele. It will “delve into his life in New York in the mid-‘70s while playing for the Cosmos alongside other international players.”

***Happy birthday to Walter Bahr, 1950 World Cup member and National Soccer Hall of Famer, who turned 90 on Saturday. Historian Roger Allaway posted this terrific tribute.