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Frequent flyer Jakovic eyes starting spot at DC

Canadian int'l hoping to impress United ahead of Gold Cup

D.C. United central defender Dejan Jakovic is finally with the rest of his teammates out in California after spending much of February up in the air.

On Feb. 6, Jakovic started and played 90 minutes for the Canadian national team in a 1-0 friendly loss against Greece in Europe. It was a tight window and required crossing the Atlantic in a short time period.

Despite the distance he had to cover, the overall experience was positive.

“It was a long trip, not too many days to train together, but overall it was a good trip,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “We’re satisfied with the result.”

His performance in a Canadian jersey was impressive – Jakovic made an intervention on the goal line to keep Greece off the scoreboard in the game’s first half, and looked solid and steady at the back.

Even though the Canadian back line didn’t have much time to train together, Jakovic thought they performed well as a group.

“I thought I had a good game," he said. "We hadn’t had much time playing, so overall I think the back four did a good job of shifting and moving side-to-side.”

The friendly came at an especially important time in the year, with the CONCACAF Gold Cup taking place this summer. Jakovic started three of four games back in the 2009 version when Canada lost in the quarterfinals and is a candidate to start again this year.

The duration of the trip out to Greece also meant a long haul back to the States. Jakovic met up with DC in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., after another 12-hour trip, connecting through Italy before finally arriving in Miami.

As a result, he was kept out of last Saturday’s 4-0 friendly win over Trinidad and Tobago’s U-20 national team as he rested and recovered.

Having a few days off at the beginning of this week when the team returned to DC for a brief rest completed the recovery process just in time to move camp out west.

“The two days off really meant a lot,” he said. "[It] lets your body recover and prepare for this second camp in Ventura."

Now, Jakovic is back and settled in with United for the second trip of the preseason. These next few weeks are particularly important for DC’s back four, as the defensive hopefuls compete for starting time and aim to improve on last season’s subpar performance.

Getting off to a strong start will also be important for the 25-year-old as he hopes to secure a starting spot not only with DC but also Canada for this summer’s Gold Cup.

Whatever the case, Jakovic is simply eager to start playing again.

“I’m just excited to start this new season, to start playing games," he said. "I feel like we have a really, really good young team.”