D.C. United players Chris Pontius and Bill Hamid have each been called up by United States coach Juergen Klinnsman for the team's international matches against Costa Rica Friday September 2 at the Home Depot Center, and then against Belgium next Tuesday September 6 in Brussels. They each seem likely to earn their first international caps for the U.S. within the next few days.
Friday night's USA vs. Costa Rica TV broadcast is scheduled to begin at 11:00 PM Eastern on ESPN2.
Hamid earned his first callup to the international squad last month for a friendly against Mexico in Philadelphia, but did not see action. This is Pontius' first callup since February 2010. If I recall correctly, he suffered an injury during that winter camp, and never fully recovered that season (Yes, there's a part of me that blames Bob Bradley for United's terrible 2010 season). Both are due.
I'm a big fan of local players earning international callups, especially when they don't involve missing any MLS action. Mostly because I'm also a big fan of competition. You see, a guy like Pontius has been one of the best players on every single team he's ever been a part of, until now. He was probably a standout in his youth, he was a four-year starter at UCSB, and he's been a first-choice player since the moment he joined United in 2009. For the first time in perhaps his entire life, Pontius will not be a first-choice starter on the USMNT roster.
Pontius will be behind no fewer than the following players on the U.S. depth chart at left midfield: Clint Dempsey, Jose Francisco Torres, Brek Shea, and Robbie Rogers. Maybe even Fabian Johnson too. That's some competition alright. Pontius is going to have to fight and work hard every day if he wants to earn playing time. I don't mean to imply that he doesn't do those things at RFK Stadium already, but this is just a bit of extra motivation that will be good for both club and country.
I'll be rooting for Pontius and Hamid to get their chances on the national stage for the first time tomorrow night. They deserve it. But maybe most of all, I'll be rooting for no injuries.