As the Black-and-Red work towards the start of their 17th MLS season, United's technical staff is already thinking about the challengesthat lie ahead, beginning with national team duty. With such an internationallyrich squad, United is expected to miss several of its starting players, as theyare called-upon to represent their countries in Olympic and World Cupqualifying matches this year.
Last night, United Head Coach Ben Olsen had a meeting withLuis Fernando Suarez, Head Coach of the Honduran National Team. Both coachessat down to address Andy Najar's future call-ups, as Honduras prepares to facePanama, Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago in Olympic qualifiers in March.Honduras will also take on Canada and Panama in June, during the third round ofCONCACAF World Cup qualifiers."The meeting went well," said United Head Coach Ben Olsen."We know what Honduras means to Andy, and we definitely want to see him succeedwith his national team. However, there will be times when we will need him toremain with us, but he will always get the same treatment as our other players who receive international call-ups."
United expects to miss several other players besides Najar during 2012.Goalkeeper Bill Hamid, midfielder Perry Kitchen and defender Ethan White are all possible targets to becalled-up by Head Coach Caleb Porter, as the U.S. U-23 Men's National Team begins 2012 Olympicqualifying.
Canadians Dwayne De Rosario and Dejan Jakovic are also likely to represent their country, as Canada kicks-off the third round of CONCACAF WorldCup qualifiers against Cuba and Honduras in June.
United's designated players Branko Boskovic [Montenegro] andHamdi Salihi [Albania] are also expected to miss action this season. TheMontenegrin National Team will face San Marino and Poland in 2014 World Cupqualifiers in September, while Albania will do the same against Cyprus and Switzerland during the same month.
Throughout preseason, Olsen and GM Dave Kasper have stressed the depth the team has added in the last few months. With the additions of Danny Cruz, Marcelo Saragosa, Nick DeLeon in the midfield, Robbie Russell and Emiliano Dudar in the back and Maicon Santos and Salihi up top, among others, the technical staff believe they have positioned the team to succeed should international absences occur throughout the season.