CARSON CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Andy Najar #14 of D.C. United flicks a header past Todd Dunivant #2 of the Los Angeles Galaxy in the second half during their MLS match at The Home Depot Center on September 18 2010 in Carson California. The Galaxy defeated United 2-1. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
On Saturday, the Honduran men's U-23 team scored twice in extra time to beat El Salvador 3-2 and qualify for the London Olympics this summer. They will play Mexico tonight at 8 pm (with ever hilarious streaming on concacaf.com) in a largely meaningless game that only crowns the winner of the Olympic qualifying tournament. D.C. United's Andy Najar has played in three of the four games so far (he was on the bench for Honduras' first game against Mexico), but he seems to have come alive in the past two matches. In particular, he provided a cross that led to the second goal against Trinidad and Tobago, and put in the cross that give Honduras the winner against El Salvador.
For United, however, this means that they will lose Najar again over the summer, perhaps for as many as five to six games according to Kyle Sheldon. Looking at the schedule, and with the tournament running from July 25 through August 1, I see five possible games that Najar could miss, and that would require Honduras to make a deep run. Luckily, the tournament runs at a time when United have few games, with only three from July 1 to August 10 (although this is bad for those of us who need our United fix). I could see Najar missing the July 15 match against Houston Dynamo, the July 21 match at Columbus Crew, the August 4 match against Columbus Crew at RFK, and the August 11 match at Sporting Kansas City. Depending on Honduras' run, when Najar returns, and the form of him and Danny Cruz, I could also see him missing the August 19 match against the Philadelphia Union. If he does miss all of these matches, Najar will have been away from the team for 21% of the season.
FIFA is insisting that clubs must release players for the Olympics (even though that is contested by some clubs). Regardless, I am sure that Olsen would release Najar, and the current play of Danny Cruz will make that burden much easier to bear. I know I will be rooting for Honduras to carry the CONCACAF banner deep into the tournament. Who knows, maybe they can surprise someone?